The Novelist Is Scared By Red Caps. What’s The Ethical Response To That?

“AAAAAAAIIIIIII!!!! Take it away! TAKE IT AWAY!!!”

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.

The Second Niggardly Principle states…

“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.

52 thoughts on “The Novelist Is Scared By Red Caps. What’s The Ethical Response To That?

  1. Tangentially related at best, but Amazon’s algorithms of infinite wisdom said that “based on my browsing” history, I would enjoy a “Hidin’ from Biden” T-shirt.

    Ugh. What part of having right-of-extreme-left political views makes Amazon think I would want to publicly mock the former Vice President of the United States with a piece of clothing? This is identity politics being exploited by the very algorithms that claim to protect us from Russian Interference!

    (Speaking of vice presidents and algorithms, I should stipulate I still find this hysterical:

  2. Well I guess I should throw my red Angels ball cap away lest someone is frightened by this symbol of hate. This is what becomes of the leftist safe spaces mentality promoted by most of our universities that creates this generation of narcissistic twits.

  3. Hahahahahaha. When I first read the title of this post in the email notifying me of its publication, I thought, “So, someone is terrified of red caps? Someone who rides trains and is terrified of black guys helping him/her with his/her luggage on the platform? What’s to say about that? How do you make an entire blog post out of a person being terrified of black guys trying to do their job?” Boy, was I off the mark. Hah!

  4. These are the kind of people our esteemed colleges and universities are releasing into the society at large. Don’t send your kids to college. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  5. Makkai is one of a number of people that I would have no idea who they are if they hadn’t shown up in this blog. I don’t do Twitter, I seldom watch cable news (nor the big three network news shows these last few years either), so, yeah, I’m out of touch. However, I do read a bit.
    Deciding an ethical response to something one of these people says does not take much of my time, because responding at all seems like a waste of time. Sometimes, I imagine the speaker is a friend or relative, and I go through an imagined debate with them. (I win all of those).
    Tougher ethical questions do get my attention — assisting an abortion procedure, disparate outcomes in school discipline, recently — and often enough I do the research, write up a comment, and then note that there already are 25 or 30 comments on the topic, several of which made the points I was going to make and made them better than I could, and so my comment sits in the word processor and never gets posted.
    But, really, I think, with people like Makkai, just ignore them. You can’t win an argument with a stupid person nor a true believer.

  6. “The red hat has become a symbol of hate bc of how its wearers act.”

    No, but because of how Trump’s detractors perceive the hat.


  7. The ethical response is to ignore her. If she or others give you crap about a hat or or any other political expression you choose to make then debate them and make them look foolish.

    How seriously can you take a woman that lists her preferred pronoun references as she/her/royal highness. No matter how you view claiming allowable personal pronoun references including royal highness is juvenile, arrogant, and dismissive of those that truly embrace that concept.

  8. Jack,
    Why spend a whole article on what was clearly a tongue-and-cheek comment? I get weirded out by people wearing MAGA hats too, mostly because they look like shit. In other words, anyone wearing one does so to make a statement (usually one they’re QUITE eager to tell you all about). People who wear them aren’t trying to “show support for the president,” they’re trying to get noticed. Normal folks don’t wear MAGA hats. And it’s an ugly shade of red.

    Lastly, why waste a whole post on a novelist of “moderate success”? She’s not a politician or someone of much influence, so who cares what random nonesense she spouts on Twitter?

    • Oh, that was not tongue in cheek, Neil. I hear and read equivilent statements every day. Dream on. Not that I have to defend my discretion, but 1) the “normal” line is insulting to half the country 2) the Niggardly principle problem is interesting whether she’s serious or not: I am assuming for the purpose of the post that it is, and her subsequent comments are a facsinating window into the deranged.

      Do you ever comment without bitching about what I choose to write about? I deem it worthy of discussion, and that’s that. Anyone is welcome to start their own ethics commentary blog if they think they can do a better job.

      • I am seeing a pattern of excuse making when the left is called out for intolerant acts.

        There is no way this was “tongue in cheek”. She was seriously telling people that Trump supporters are to be feared. The hat is an inanimate object but when worn it is a message to others that the wearer is sub-human because of their beliefs.

        My brother tried to rationalize a public statement he made to a policy recommendation on immigration using the “tongue in cheek” explanation. I called him on his bullshit rationalization. I suggested asylum seekers be transferred to a less populated Hawaiian Island where they would not need to be held in close quarter detention facilities. That would prevent them disappearing into the Hispanic communities across the country, Hirono seems to be advocating for their release, and would allow families remain intact until adjudicated.

        My brother stated that such a plan was reminiscent of the Madagascar plan in which Nazis planned to relocate Jews to Madagascar. I have not spoken to him since and probably wont ever again.

        Tongue in cheek my ass. Defend your argument or keep your mouth shut.

      • Jack,

        I agree with you more than I don’t. You only hear from me on the times I don’t. Instead, you rationalize away my comments as the rantings of a contrarian. Moreover, I had a cogent response to your response that seems to ha w gotten deleted or never posted.

      • Willy:

        “BITE ME”

        Where? Please, enlighten me.

        I count as one of the deplorables. I just happen to have fashion sense enough not to wear cheaply-made casual wear with vague political slogans attached to it.

        • I count as one of the deplorables. I just happen to have fashion sense enough not to wear cheaply-made casual wear with vague political slogans attached to it.

          Your comments were derogatory towards those you say you identify with. Your attitude still reeks of MAGA in name only. You look down on someone for wearing a cap. How are you different than those who claim such citizens should be ruled for their own good, again?

          You are better than those who choose to voice their constitutionally protected rights, in you own opinion.

          “BITE ME”

          Where? Please, enlighten me.

          You have permission for the lower right buttock.

    • Tongue in cheek is best reserved for those with a sense of humor. The Left has been branding itself as dour for quite a few years. The farther Left you go, the more dour the individuals, and more irrational. Now, the Left commonly states, in all seriousness, the sort of outlandish rubbish that used to pass as mocking and wickedly satirical from more conservative lips. Truthfully, it’s really difficult to mock the Left anymore.

  9. I really think reactions like this show a complete lack of balance in how people perceive the world around them. Politics, especially presidential, just isn’t that important in day to day living for a vast majority. How did this become an obsession with so many, that a relatively new writer spends limited creative and time resources on efforts like this? She’s supposed to know the power of words, and edit her first, second, and tenth drafts until she sends it out.

    I suppose if some little league of tweens comes into a convenience store to get sodas after a game, she must keep her fingers on her phone to call emergency services? Frightend of red caps, better avoid the nice hotels that have porters and bell boys, too. Because she is paranoid, everyone else must change? She would be highly offended if someone else demanded she change because her appearance frightens them. Make a counter meme with purple caps if you think your worldview is persuasive and correct, that is the marketplace of ideas.

    1) Arguing against and mocking an American President is very old. Alien and sedition act was put on the books in the 1700s for Adams. Her comments about the president are fine, that’s part of the job. But this hatred for bystanders who had nothing to do with her beef (a cap suggesting people read? She’s a writer! That should be an automatic thumbs up from her) this is going far beyond being rude to the president.
    2) There are not that many areas in US culture that have dress codes with any strength. Even fewer relate to hats (not in church or theaters, discreet faith caps okay in most situations, helmets required for many sports, etc) This is as much conflating the Trump cap as red vs blue states, but colors should not be fearful. If her sister gets a bloody nose does she recoil? Red is just a color, if she recoils that badly to a common as a blush color, that says more about her.
    3) Her offense is malicious, seeking to make everyone change to match her prejudice.
    4)If she truly is this scared, how can she bear to shop in any store where the smocks or vests are red so customers can easily spot the employees?
    Hindus do have swastikas, even on existing buildings already standing when Germany was still only Visigoth tribes. If anything they have a right to be outraged people conflate them with nazis.
    Wearing a hat is NOT violent. You’d have to be wearing a hat with spikes and charging into people like in football to make a hat dangerous. Baseball caps are harmless, the biggest things they do is shade the wearers’ eyes, and maybe overheat their heads a little. Acting as if a political cap is a violent menace is losing grasp with reality.

    Not what you want to appear when looking for support and votes. The left really needs to let it go, hatred of caps becomes a negative. But the people who’ve been riled up like this are too scared to realize how silly they’ve made themselves sound.

    • Great comments, Marie. I particularly like the following:

      Politics, especially presidential, just aren’t that important in day to day living for a vast majority. How did this become an obsession with so many, that a relatively new writer spends limited creative and time resources on efforts like this?

      Camille Paglia has suggested that politics have replace religion. By that, I think she means people look to politics for their salvation the way prior generations looked to their church for comfort. Politics has become an existential battle between good and evil, analogous to Lucifer fighting St.. Michael to determine who gets heaven and who gets hell. That’s why politics is an obsession for so many. It’s their religion and window into reality and the eternal mysteries. All of which is very unfortunate for them, and for the rest of us.

    • Nicely done.

      “Wearing a hat is NOT violent.” I couldn’t agree more. I believe SCOTUS has ruled that people have First Amendment rights to wear slogans. Yet, the Left wants to stop it by controlling thoughts by controlling speech. That is why universities have speech codes. That is why we hear about “hate speech”. The Left would make MAGA hats illegal if they could.


  10. How should good Americans regard someone who suggests that it isn’t normal to support the elected President of the United States?

    I will attempt an answer.

    One must I think turn first to the media framing. I still don’t know why, and what I mean is I think there must be reasons that might be hidden and unrevealed, but some deep faction within the power-structure of the United States is very threatened by Donald Trump. Maybe it is just as simple as the political faction of which HRC and BO were or are a part of? Could it be that simple?

    Be that as it may, the NYTs seemed to take the lead in framing DT in the worst possible light. Rallying people to their initial framing of DT was being the same as or similar to the political rise of National Socialism in Germany. Were they, and are they, serious? It seems so. But then it is also possible that they recognize that that cannot be so and yet they pretend: to get the most mileage out of their protest. It seems (to me anyway) that it must be understood — as one of the principle tenets of understanding in fact — that the NYT’s crafting of its extremely negative picture of DT is largely, not absolutely, but largely ‘a Jewish thing’. I assume that the New York Intellectual Establishment is a Jewish-liberal sector. I think that what I say here is accurate and fairly so.

    So, if this is true one must examine the opposition to DT in the light of Jewish apprehensions. Though this seems true, what I cannot quite square is DT’s seeming absolute pro-Israel position. In some senses — or is all this an illusion? — he has done a great deal for Israel and, generally speaking, it is assumed that this means having done what is positive for Jewry. But clearly there are liberal factions among Jewry that do not think so, and as well Israeli factions that don’t think so. But his popularity is very high in Israel.

    So, there are puzzles here. To understand the present we are living in I would have to state openly that there is a great deal — a huge outflow or up-flow — of negative animus about Jews, and definitely about American Jews. I linked Zoe to a post of mine in The Division thread and also to 2 video presentations, one by a young Black woman, and the other to a Netflix ad. If you read the comments in that Netflix od you will read the opinions and views of people who are dealing in ‘negative animus’ about Jews and what they understand that Jews do. My suggestion is to try to understand first what these people are thinking, why they are thinking it, and then what this means for Jews and certainly Jewish Americans. I did recommend, and still do recommend, a recent book by Jonathan Weisman (deeply conected to the NYTs and the NY ‘establishment’) called (((Semitism))). Worth reading so to be able to see and understand a particular Jewish perspective.

    Anyway, I assume that most people who do navigate the blogs and YouTube and the opinion-founts do grasp that people are asking problematic questions about the present structures. I’ll leave it at that.

    But now I am in a position to offer my answer to the question. Here goes:

    There has been 50 years, more or less, of ‘narrative’ that has to do with ‘opposing Nazism’. The horror is referred to constantly and as I have said it has become an emblem of ontological malevolence. This is a very important fact and a useful term. The education and PR systems, and all media and literature and definitely film, have established Germany and National Socialism as the ur-evil: the fount of evil. The most evil thing possible. And an ever-present danger. This evil is not gone, not defeated, but ever present. It is metaphysical evil and therefore ontological.

    The question is always asked: Why did you not oppose Hitler with all your power when — at one time, at one moment — it might have been possible to stop the evil ontology from entering the world-realm? Young children ask this of their elders. And what they are instructed to believe, and what they have been taught to do when they perceive a bottomless evil is to act against it. Not to act against it — not to speak, to yell, to disrupt, to intimidate, to threaten and also to kill or assassinate — this is to collaborate with ontological evil.

    This is what *you* taught them. Oh dear, since I can’t blame any of you, though you do participate in this notion if I have perceived correctly, I have to say ‘that is what they had been taught’. A generation. A number of generations: it is in fact part and parcel of the structure of America.

    Now, people cannot distinguish that now is not then. That is one thing. So they approach ‘reality’ through easily assimilated ‘tropes’. DT = Nazi. Let your rage flow forward . . .

    But in truth the entire question, the entire problem, is vastly complex. Conservatism does, at certain points, share concerns with radical and oppositional neo-reaction. And the doctrines of fascism — the ideas that inform its intentions and raison d’être — are not wholly wrong nor are they unethical. But who would ever make that study to know that that is true? Very few. And who would go even further than that to understand the synthesis that is developing that has elements of numerous political philosophies perhaps best encapsulated in the name of Alexandr Dugan? Fewer still!

    So, those who don’t can’t or won’t take the time to look deeply into the issues will remain always outside of ‘genuine participation’ in the really important — and the telling and decisive — questions. They will be *looking in* from outside.

    To me, this analysis I have offered here seems at the very least *considerable*. But it is just a begiining point really. The issue is trmendously — and maddeningly — complex and fraught: because it is psychological in so many ways.

    • Wait. There are informative videos on the web and especially on YouTube? I thought it was just cat videos and people eating Tide pods. Huh. Who knew?

      Alizia wrote: “Maybe it is just as simple as the political faction of which HRC and BO were or are a part of?”

      Trump disrupted the Establishment, the accepted order of things and how things get done. For instance, prior to the Orange One, there were press briefings with talking points fed to the media. The media controlled the narrative. Then, along comes Trump and he sends out tweets to over 160,000,000 people linked to his Twitter page. He tweets that CNN is fake news and its ratings plummet. CNN’s response is put idiots like Cuomo, Sanders, Ryan, Cooper, Lemon, et al to whine about how mean Trump is. People ignore them to the point that MSNBC is ahead in ratings.

      Additionally, the “deep state”, or the traditional power structure has seen quite an upheaval over the last three years. The intelligence community (FBI, CIA, Homeland Security, IRS, DOJ) are now looked at with proper suspicion. Think about this: In the 1960s and 1970s, the CIA and the FBI were roundly rejected by the Left as agents of the oppressive state. Now, we are told by these idiots that Comey, Paige, Strzok, Clapper, Brennan, McCabe, et al are lifelong patriots and should be treated with praise and adulation for saving our fragile democracy. Trump comes along and upends the whole community by disregarding what these bozos and incompetents and egomaniacs think. He has the audacity to question whether they are all that great. Who defends them? Why, CNN, MSNBC, et al.

      It is a new day in Washington and the power structures don’t know how to handle it.

      As for the rest of your post, well, that will take some time to read.


  11. If you want to understand — to understand better in any case — what some of the youths are thinking these days, what better way than to get it right from their mouth? Here is a video, not terribly long, of a young person who is born in 1995. That’s even younger than yours truly! But listen to his story of what his process was.

    For the time-being he is still allowed to have a YouTube channel! Could change at any moment . . . listen while you still can.

    How I came to the world view that I hold today

  12. Just for the record, I don’t like and never have liked the “Second Niggardly Principle.” It’s too subjective, too difficult to separate “malicious” and “well-established impulses” from the alternative.

    I consider it less of a principle than a consideration, and generally a minor one. Anytime it interferes in legitimate free speech or advocacy, I think it should be very minor indeed.

    With that out of the way, the very idea that a person is seriously advocating this is a symptom of just how sick our society has become. Our country was founded on the assumption that people wanted freedom over servitude, individual rights over collective, the power to shape our own destiny, protect and nurture our own family, and live our lives without the state telling us how to put our pants on or what to believe.

    This woman wants to forbid something for no reason other than the fact she claims it scares her, or somehow makes her uncomfortable. And she does this without even a nod to the fact that to do so would be a complete, abject rejection of the fundamental tenet of our country’s founding.

    How far we have fallen. I don’t know how far it is to the bottom, but I suspect we can see it from here.

  13. Current events would suggest it’s the people who hate MAGA hats who are the dangerous menaces to civil society. How many reports do we hear of MAGA hat wearers being assaulted and harangued? Virtually no stories the other way around.

    This author is mentally ill.

  14. I had to chuckle upon reading that red caps made the poor, put-upon liberal uncomfortable. I have been a firearms instructor for over twenty years, and we wear red caps on the shooting range and quite often choose them for casual wear as well. Over the years I have accumulated quite a collection of red caps, some agency-related, others from manufacturers of firearms and ammunition, police equipment, etc.. Since President Trump and the MAGA hat phenomenon, It is amusing how much scrutiny my red hats get wherever I wear one. I don’t have a MAGA hat, but I believe many observers assume that any red hat is a MAGA hat until they can actually see that it is a Civilian Marksmanship Program cap or whatever iteration I happen to be wearing. Sometimes their reaction looks to be relief, and sometimes like disappointment. I just find it amusing.

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