Background: a bunch of alleged adults are mocking millennials in the USA to who don’t want to go home for Thanksgiving to relatives who voted for Trump and chastising “whining snowflakes” to “just grow up” and accept that “family is more important than politics” (in their magical universe where voting for policies to benefit yourself even though they will obviously exclude/harm other people in your family is somehow compatible with family before politics (and how an election won by an archetypal divisive individualist means that “we need to foster community, not individualism” in the aftermath, where “we” means those who didn’t vote for Trump)).
A number of news outlets have put together explainers on how to survive Thanksgiving dinner with a politically divided family. CNN spoke to a psychotherapist and etiquette specialist. The New York Times put together a list of questions to guide the conversation. Quartz interviewed a hostage negotiator.
Here comes the QOTD: there’s a repeated, related narrative coming up in comment threads around the web from the “get over it” crowd: the idea that progressives also need to accept the blame for “ordinary Americans” being pushed into the sphere of the white nationalists (who have self-labelled their conservative-reactionary selves as the “alt-right” to rebrand 18th century supremacist ideals as 21st century racial self-defence) by continual “scolding” from progressives who “pick on them” for expressing racist/sexist/homophobic/etc ideas and supporting policies with racist/sexist/homophobic/etc consequences. One of my favourite commentors across multiple blogs I’ve been following for years had this to say over at Scalzi’s joint:
mythago says: “The idea that good people just got tired of being scolded is the same mentality that drives abusers: it’s not my fault I hit you, it’s because you wouldn’t stop nagging me, you made me do something I wouldn’t have done except for your reactions.” ~ Whatever | Two Weeks In
POTUS Obama and PEOTUS Trump have both issued public statements calling for family and community harmony aka “national unity” over the Thanksgiving holiday, but that’s no magic wand. I don’t blame a single one of those “college kids” or the very many others who would rather stay with supportive friends over Thanksgiving rather than be expected to be silent/apologetic around the belligerently or defensively triumphant relatives. I also salute those who are ready and willing to engage relatives with differing political views with affirmative consciousness-raising goals in mind.
The advice is smart, not just for its practical tips on how to avoid the meltdowns that many of the articles seem to dread, but also for its recognition, in speaking explicitly to white Americans, that the current political climate has different implications for different racial groups.
That’s something journalists will need to be even more careful to remember under Trump’s administration: that treating the experience of white people as universal misses a lot.
I wish all of you celebrating Thanksgiving a day that you feel good about afterwards, however you’ve decided to make that happen. Good luck. Here’s some jolly kittens to inspire you.