Thanks but no Thanks

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Thanksgiving is the most inclusive, and most American of holidays. You don’t have to belong to any particular race or religion to celebrate it. You don’t even have to believe anything one way or the other about the first Thanksgiving, on which this holiday is loosely based. It’s just a time to gather with family and be thankful for all our blessings and for each other. Then we watch sports and eat too much. It’s perfect!

Naturally, the Democratic National Committee wants to turn it into a progressive indoctrination session.

We saw the same thing last year, when they pushed young lefties to proselytize about Obamacare in between bites of candied yams. It’s part of a disturbing trend of making every event in human life about politics. It’s not completely new: the “personal is political” cliche from the ’60s is the beginning of such a theme on the American left, and extremists of right and left in Europe have long sought to view every facet of existence through a political lens. But it is new for a major American political party to seek to invade non-political spaces with as much vigor and persistence as the Obama-era Democratic party.

I think this goes too far even for most Democrats. My own family has people of all different political views, and some who don’t much care about politics either way. None of them ever tried to indoctrinate me, and I never tried to indoctrinate them. It just doesn’t feel natural or respectful to do it.

With some relatives, I’ll have political banter, but only with the kind of folks who just like to talk and think about interesting ideas. None of us is really seeking to change minds or to upbraid someone for their thoughtcrimes.

Instead of a list of counter-arguments, I suggest this: enjoy your family, enjoy your turkey, enjoy your football, and don’t bait relatives who disagree with you into turning Thanksgiving into a real-life version of Twitter. Be cool! Give thanks! Have fun!

Victory Day!

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I originally published this post at a former group blog, The Closet Moderate, in 2013. I think it still holds up.

Summer is the best part of the year, to my mind, and August is one fine month.  There’s just one thing missing: a holiday.  The summer, for the non-astronomers among us, is bookended by two holidays: Memorial Day and Labor Day.  Between them, we have the glorious Fourth of July.  All good days.  Good times to leave work for a long weekend at the shore, the lake, the mountains, or wherever you go.  Good days to wave the flag, eat hot dogs, and blow something up.

But look at August: nary a holiday to be seen.  For the non-teachers among us, that means working all week long, which in high summer seems damned intolerable.  This is the twenty-first century, for Pete’s sake.  We spend the twentieth increasing our productivity to a fair-thee-well.  Now’s the time to decrease it.  George Jetson worked a two-hour week.  Surely, with all our computers and labor-saving devices, we can afford to lose eight hours one in the month.

So: V-J day.  Or Victory over Japan Day, to be formal.  The end of the bloodiest war, the most just war, the last total war America ever fought.  When the Japanese surrendered (August 15 their time, August 14 our time) the world was at peace for the first time in a sanguineous decade.  So, the holiday has something for everyone.  For the bellicose, it represents the triumph of American arms over our the most powerful, most wicked enemies we ever faced.  For the pacific, it represents a rebirth of peace, and a new beginning of freedom for the liberated nations (except the ones the Soviets occupied, but never mind that).  We could even leave off the “Japan” bit and call it Victory Day. Or Peace Day. Or Armistice Day, since the old Armistice Day has been swallowed up by Veterans Day in this country.  It would fit in with the patriotic season so well, you wouldn’t even need to change the red-white-and-blue bunting.