Rebecca Makkai, an American novelist of moderate success, tweeted,
Fascinating! And her tweet raises some trenchant ethics questions:
1. How should good Americans regard someone who suggests that it isn’t normal to support the elected President of the United States?
Answer: As a bad American, as well as stunningly arrogant. The impulse is fascist: those who don’t agree with the political positions of Makkai and her ilk are not merely wrong, mistaken or misguided, but abnormal. It is particularly subversive to pronounce those who are behaving exactly as U.S. citizens have behaved and have been expected to behave since 1789 as not being normal, while Makkai, one of the divisive and destructive members of the “resistance” attempting to undermine the nation’s unity and institutions, pose as respectable.
2. Does an individual’s aversion to red caps because one variety carries a slogan deemed objectionable to the Trump Deranged qualify as a sensitivity anyone is obligated to observe in their choice of headgear?
Answer: No. This isn’t a misunderstanding or a reasonable reaction. It is akin to a phobia, and a bizarre one. If red baseball caps are suddenly taboo, why not all baseball caps? Why not anything related to baseball? Why not all caps? All hats? Anything red? This is an extreme example of the Left’s use of political correctness to bend everyone else to their will, using their choice of offense to contsrain the speech, expression and conduct of others.
3. Wait: doesn’t the Second Niggardly Principle dictate that even if based on a misunderstanding, one should, in the interests of kindness, try to accommodate such sensitivities?
Answer: No. The Second Niggardly Principle does not apply, and the novelist should not get the benefit of it.
“When an individual or group can accomplish its legitimate objectives without engaging in speech or conduct that will offend individuals whose basis for the supposed offense is emotional, mistaken or ignorant, but is not malicious and is based on well-established impulses of human nature, it is unethical to intentionally engage in such speech or conduct.”
One cannot express support for the President and his goals, without expressing support for the President and his goals. The objective of the called-for-ban is to stifle expression, as well as to divide the country into easily identified groups consisting of the Good People (like Rebecca) and The Other (red cap wearers). It’s related to naking making the Jews wear yellow stars.
One individual or many do not and should not have the power to declare a common and harmless piece of attire suddenly taboo because they have phobic reactions to it. The reason for the claimed offense is not “emotional, mistaken or ignorant,” but cynical, manipulative, and, again, a power-grab, like the Left’s recent attempts to demonize the “OK” sign. The basis for the imaginary offense is malicious, and it is not based on any well-established impulse of human nature, but an absurd, extreme, deranged one, akin to asking women to eschew pants suits because they raise unpleasent memories of Hillary Clinton.
4. Anything else?
Answer: Sure. Later, in the thread following her tweet, the cap-censor writes, “Also, for the love of God: The clever folks wearing “Make America Read Again” or whatever caps — NO. You’re making everyone scared. Don’t do it.”
Now “everyone” is scared of red caps! That’s not an opinion or analysis; it’s a lie.
Later she writes—at this point, I would no more buy one of her novels than chow down on silverfish––“An equivalent here would be western Hindus choosing not to use the swastika symbol in public despite it being sacred to their faith because it would offend/frighten people.”
They DO use the symbol, however, and the fact that an evil entity usurped it (the symbols are actually not the same, but mirror images; I wonder if Makkai knows this?) does not and should not force the Hindus to abandon their benign symbolism and traditions: again, expecting this is not reasonable.
Then she writes, “The red hat has become a symbol of hate bc of how its wearers act.”
Now she is in Big Lie territory, as well as engaging inbigotry. There is no uniform conduct that can be expected of or attributed to the wearers of MAGA caps, nor is it fair or true to generalize that they are purveyors of hate. From my vantage point, it appears that far more unequivocal hate has been focused upon the wearers of such caps.