Among the many bits of news and information that recently crossed my feed were two that offered a stark contrast in, lets call it “prog-activism.”

The first involved the staging of Mrs. Doubtfire in Seattle. Apparently, the Seattle Times, in an unsigned op-ed, took issue with the story’s premise of a man dressing as and pretending to be a woman, calling it “problematic” and finding five trans-activists to validate this bit of concocted outrage.

The second was about the Palestinian Authority rejecting a treaty that called for ending discrimination and violence against women.

The contrast lies in the absurdity of outrage over the former and the paucity of outrage over the latter. While, in a free society, people get to choose the targets of their ire (or support), it is legitimate to question people’s choices for what to protest. Under metrics of societal benefit, of degree, and of hypocrisy.

While “whataboutism” is generally a dodge, that’s not always the case, and when someone gets wound up to the moon over something that’s relatively trivial, and is silent about a much greater transgression of the same genre, we aren’t wrong in seeking underlying truths.

One such is one I’ve discussed in the past: that Islam’s attitudes towards women and gays generally gets a pass from the social justice scolds. I wrote of this in the wake of the Orlando shooting several years ago, and it hasn’t changed. Rare is the criticism of Islamic illiberalism in the circles of woke. And, when it does arise, it is frequently deflected, by generalizing, by the “dodge” version of whataboutism, and by talk of respect for other cultures.

The last deserves the most derision, seeing as those demanders of respect offer absolutely none of it to people and groups who aren’t on their “most favored” lists. Moreso, the degree of offense taken is often grossly out of proportion with the declared offense. An Internet friend recently shared a recap of an encounter with a “non-binary” person who demanded they discuss sexual orientation and dubbed her an “evil bigot transphobe” for merely choosing not to participate.

What’s at the root of all this? Why do such activists go overboard on some points and stone-silent on others?

It’s all about ease and safety. It’s easy to be a woke social justice scold in America today. Exhausting, yes, because it seems to be an endless mining of culture in search of nuggets of offense, no matter that those nuggets are usually as genuine as pyrite, but some people revel in the misery of that exhaustion. The targets chosen are familiar, they can be ganged up on, they are of “disfavored status” in the press, and they rarely fight back. Even when they do fight back, the fight is of little real import or consequence. There’s no risk in attacking these targets.

It’s been dubbed slacktivism, a term I find apt but insufficient. The laziness it implies is just part of the story. We can overlook the lazy person, but the person whose antics gum up society is worse than lazy.

To wit, the example that emerges every year around this time: the woke-scolds’ reaction to “Merry Christmas.” One such harridan over at Salon informs us that saying or writing “Merry Christmas” is a declaration of white identity politics (the millions of Christian blacks, latinos, Koreans, et al could, apparently, not be reached for comment). Because, Trump, of course. Again, safe and easy target, if your circle of life is in Wokesylvania.

Another scold, over at Washington post, requested “Please don’t wish me ‘Merry Christmas.’ It’s impolite and alienating to assume I follow your religion. I’d counter that request with my own questions: What of “Happy Hanukah?” What of people who say “Allah be praised” in your presence? Would you make the same request? And, since it’s impolite and alienating to speak words associated with my religious practices to you, should I consider it impolite and alienating when someone insists I use pronouns other than those I’m used to using?

Social courtesy is a two-way street. Your life is not altered one iota by someone saying “Merry Christmas” to you. You add nothing to the smooth and happy functioning of society by attempting to convert someone’s positive utterance into a teaching moment. You make things worse, not better, by elevating your own self importance above the people around you.

If you feel the need to engage in social activism, picking cheap, easy, and safe targets is not only lazy and counterproductive, it’s an insult to those who would genuinely benefit from your efforts. Want to be a good person? Be one. If there’s one thing to take away with you on Christmas Day, even if you’re not a believer or practitioner, that’s it.

Merry Christmas!

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


Like this post?