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Elie Mystal’s Woke Thanksgiving

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Retiring to my chambers to ride out a tryptophan fugue, I saw this essay from The Nation on Twitter. “Surely this is a parody,” I thought. Oh, but no! Here’s the headline and subhed:

Wow. Somewhere in America, there are some Mystal family members who are pouring themselves extra wine to fortify themselves in the face of their yappy, rude, woke kinsman. Here’s part of what the Progressive Grinch Who Ruined Thanksgiving had to say:

We stand on the precipice of losing our American character to the forces of authoritarianism and bigotry. For many people, this holiday season will be the last face-to-face encounter with family members before the most consequential election of our lifetimes. And yet, many people are desperate to pass the potatoes without starting any uncomfortable conversations.

The holidays are when your resistance is needed. Some of you have the opportunity to talk to Trump voters and assorted conservatives this weekend. Some of you will have the opportunity to talk to people who live in an echo chamber of Fox News commentary and Russian troll farms. To waste that opportunity because of your own hang-ups and Mommy or Daddy issues is criminal.

Criminal! I guarantee you that anybody who took Mystal’s advice only confirmed their Trumpist or Trump-leaning relatives in their decision to back Orange Man. More:

You might not like conflict, but if you choose to break bread with Trump supporters and climate change deniers because you happen to be related to them, then conflict is required. Anything less is appeasement, and we’ve had far too much of that these past few years. So stiffen your spine, rehearse your talking points, and get ready to fry some turkeys in your family with your righteousness.

Thus follows the worst possible advice for anybody hoping to persuade right-wing relatives that they’re wrong. It’s so colossally clueless that you think that you must be reading an article from The Onion or the Babylon Bee. But no! Here’s an example of the pure, uncut hathos here, from him urging readers not to fall into the trap of thinking that there are non-political things you can talk about when you’re together with the family:

Take a traditional Thanksgiving Day football game. This may seem like safe, nonpolitical ground—so long as everybody agrees to not talk about Colin Kaepernick. But it won’t take long for Trump supporters in your family to say something racist, sexist, or plain nutty while watching the game. They’ll say a white athlete is just a “hard worker” while praising a black athlete’s “natural gifts.” They’ll champion a slur against Native Americans, masquerading as a nickname, on a holiday that commemorates the prelude to a continental genocide. They’ll make fun of the “egghead statisticians,” which will sound like they’re making a comment on football strategy, but actually they’re making an attack on science and math that will later fuel their climate change denier sensibilities. Or maybe they’ll just sit like lumps on the couch while women: prepare dinner, set the table, take care of the kids, clean up after dinner, serve dessert, and fetch them a beer.

In those moments, I think of the children. I think of the behavior that is being modeled for them. I think of the cultural messages they are learning as they’re being exposed to these “traditional” structures.

Holy Helen Lovejoy, he’s thinking of the children!

Read it all, if you can. Wait, what do I mean “if you can” — this is so, so pleasurable. Mystal advises:

The smallest political unit is the family. Your activism among the people who know you and love you is the most effective. Fight. Welcome the opportunity for conflict.

This is great advice if you want to make those who know and love you hate you, and want nothing to do with you or your politics. What kind of loon do you have to be to think otherwise? I guess you have to be Elie Mystal, whose biography at Above The Law, the online legal website he runs, says:

Elie received a degree in Government from Harvard University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He was formerly a litigator at Debevoise & Plimpton but quit the legal profession to pursue a career as an online provocateur.

Oh. Harvard and Harvard Law. Well, there you are. See, this kook is why a lot of us are afraid to vote in the Left. They’re so prosecutorial, and won’t even let you watch the damn Cowboys game in peace.

Elie Mystal, denouncing as racist a relative who asked for white meat from the turkey

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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