Reflections on Two Unspeakables: “Debt” and “Merry Christmas”

Donald Trump has proudly exposed yet more evidence that he is nothing but a Washington establishment puppet, the ultimate booby prize for a “grassroots” very long on “grass” and very short on “roots.” 

Nice! The biggest military spending ever, by a nation more in debt than any nation ever, and running the biggest deficits of any nation ever! That’s so awesome. The best ever. He loves the military! Loves them so much that he doesn’t care a whit whether the children of today’s military have a solvent and sustainable country to live in.

But not to worry, at least those impoverished and irredeemably indebted future generations won’t have to worry about dying from lung cancer at seventy-five! Now, thanks to Trump’s brave action in support of the Democratic Party’s initiative to schoolmarmishly regulate yet another aspect of private behavior, those future poor people will die of lung cancer at seventy-eight! What a great president! He really loves America! 

And let’s not forget “Paid Parental Leave” — the Trump Capitalization Effect: if he capitalizes certain words in a tweet, then you know those words are Crap. Yes, he has joined the Democrats in supporting twelve weeks paid leave for 2.1 million government workers, because this is a really important way to improve and streamline the bureaucracy, according to Trump’s top adviser on government efficiency, Ivanka Trump, who has never had a real job or had to meet a real deadline in her life.

Merry Christmas. I just wanted to say that, partly because it’s that time of year, and partly because I read an item yesterday about a comedienne (nobody uses that feminine form for a female comic anymore, but I like it) who was issued a warning by the human resources office on an unnamed show she worked on, because she had had the audacity, months earlier, to wish a friendly “Merry Christmas” to some of the show’s workers on her way out, and one of those co-workers was — pregnant pause — agnostic, and therefore objected to this religious expression. Objected to it so much that she took it to her workplace superiors to demand that this fanatical intolerance (saying “Merry Christmas” to a co-worker at Christmas) be dealt with immediately and in the most judiciously cruel and inhumanely progressive manner. 

Even more outrageous than this person’s experience, however, is the way the story is reported in the Huffington Post, which happened to be the featured top link when I did a Google search for the story:

Whitney Cummings presumably won’t be wishing anyone a merry Christmas this year.

During an appearance on “Conan” Wednesday, the comedian claimed that last year, when she was working on an unspecified television show, she uttered a single “merry Christmas” and was reprimanded months later by the show’s human resources department.

That opening sentence is a perfect sign of the times. “Whitney Cummings presumably won’t be wishing anyone a merry Christmas this year.” And why not? Because someone responded to her in politically correct brownshirt style and tried to get her punished or reprimanded for daring to use a Eurocentric religious greeting in this secular progressive era? Typical of the progressive Huffington Post to presume that this sort of episode is grounds for being more sensitive to differences this year.  

In fact, the article emphasizes Conan O’Brien’s response to this story:

Although Cummings said she meant it more as a “formality” than anything else, O’Brien argued that “in these times we’re in, that could trigger someone or offend them if it’s not their holiday.”

“In these times we’re in.” Yes — tyrannical times, thought-policed times, intolerant times, thuggish times. Is this fact, namely that modern civilization is disintegrating into a form of quasi-Maoist report-your-neighbor-for-unorthodox-views totalitarianism, grounds for greater circumspection or “consideration” in one’s future encounters? On the contrary, it is grounds for standing up ever more intransigently against such ideological oppression. 

I have no reason to believe this of her, but if Ms. Cummings had any sort of character, she would be greeting more people with “Merry Christmas” this year, rather than apologizing for last year’s “mere formality” and excusing herself on the grounds that she honestly didn’t know there was an agnostic in the room.

Who cares whether there was an agnostic, a Jew, a Muslim, or a Buddhist in the room? She wasn’t forcing them to pray to Jesus with her. She was wishing them her preferred seasonal (and yes, religious) greeting. 

There is an old interview with Ayn Rand (probably by either Phil Donahue or Mike Wallace, though I won’t bother searching for it) in which the famously strident atheist is asked whether it bothers her when someone says “God bless you,” such as after a sneeze. She replies that it doesn’t bother her, because she understands it to mean that the person is merely wishing her the best — the highest thing — on their own standard of goods. In other words, she understands it as a kindness in the terms in which it is delivered, regardless of whether she happens to share the premises underlying those terms.

A greeting is not a metaphysical treatise, nor is it political propaganda. It is at worst a nicety, and in the best case a sincere kind wish to another person, offered in the terms that are most meaningful to the person extending the greeting.

So Merry Christmas, dammit, and if that greeting triggers you, then I hope it triggers you enough that you won’t come back to Limbo unless and until you have a change of heart, and start thinking more with your own rational mind again, rather than with your indoctrinated progressive hostilities.

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