Politics & Policy

A Progressive Guide to Thanksgiving Conversation

You’ve learned how to talk Obamacare, but here are the right responses to mundane controversies.

In the great progressive spirit, here are a few tips on how to talk to — and morally improve — your family this Thanksgiving:

1. Your crazy uncle complains in passing that the construction on Redlands Avenue is limiting the flow of traffic to his hardware store, and wonders if the job could be completed more quickly.

This must not be allowed to stand. Ask your uncle if he’s an anarchist and if he has heard of Somalia. If you missed Politics 101 at Oberlin, refer to the Fact Cards that you have printed out from Vox.com and explain patiently that the government is the one thing that we all belong to and that the worry that it is “too big” or “too centralized” or “too slow to achieve basic tasks” has a long association with neo-Confederate causes.

Remind him also that:


Should all that fail, insist sadly that if he doesn’t fully apologize for his opinions you will have to conclude that he hates gay people. Ask why your family has to talk about politics all the time.

2. Your younger sister asks you to pass her the turkey from your end of the table; your older brother asks if you will pour him another glass of the wine you brought to the meal.

Explain to your siblings that you are not a maid just because you have a vagina. Ask them if they have even considered the gender binary lately.

Refuse to hand anything over until you have been given verbal acknowledgement that the person requesting service understands the health consequences of his/her/it/oi/er/im/yown choices. A particularly effective way of keeping the attention of those who ask for alcohol at family gatherings is to pull a couple charts from the latest NIH studies on substance abuse. Given that the topic has now come up, make sure to ask your interlocutors whether they consider themselves to be “evangelists for Obamacare.” (Should they call it Obamacare, again, see your Fact Cards for a neo-Confederate connection.) If they admit that they do not, inquire as to why they are so indifferent to women of color. At this point, it is acceptable to start screaming.

Those asking for more meat should be informed as politely as possible that they are no better than murderers and that the production of non-vegan foodstuffs is extremely harmful to the environment. Note that those who compliment the turkey essentially wish Indonesian children to drown. Remind those at the table that you are a fruitarian and that you have been gluten free for 47 days straight now.

To avoid having to repeat these steps during each and every course, sneak out on the perfectly normal and socially acceptable pretext that you are going to have a late-term abortion and throw all the sugary desserts into the garbage. Goodbye transfats.

3. Your brother-in-law expresses the view that the United States is a “great country” and that he is “lucky” to live here.

Most likely, your brother-in-law’s admiration for his country is nothing more than an expression of his white, straight, middle-class, cis-male, able-bodied, thin-normative, mono-romantic, folically-normal, kink-shaming, assimilationist, stare-raping privilege. Say “I can’t even” so that all present will understand that you are serious.

Next, consider passive-aggressive comments about all those who are not able to enjoy a warm meal today: among them, Native Americans, slaves, transgender animals, otherkins, the homeless, and the victims of America’s many foreign wars. Point out that the United States cannot be that great if it is fifth in global zinc production and people are still permitted to buy SUVs. Ask aloud why America is the only country in the world that hasn’t been progressive enough to submit its Bill of Rights to a majority of the voters.

If anyone in your extended family has moved here from another country, ensure that you educate them about the downsides of their adopted home before it is too late. Lament the false consciousness of the American voter. Note that you feel sorry for the young people in your family. Correct anyone who disagrees by saying the word “Fox.” Demand to know why your “empowered and beautiful” sister married a Republican.

4. Somebody around the table suggests that “we should say grace.”

Insist that you are permitted to say a few words first, for balance. Use the opportunity to read the entirety of Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion — in Spanish. Administer a test to ensure that those present have listened and have absorbed its message. If you can record this and post it to Reddit, that is even better. If not, do not worry. There will be another chance next year.

Finish your moment with a brief spiritual reading from the Hadiths.


5. Your grandfather tells a hunting story.

Danger! This means that, somewhere in the house, your grandfather must have a gun. Panic immediately. After noting that any parents who brought their children to the gathering are irresponsible, find the firearms and the ammunition and inspect them all personally. Read your grandfather a safety briefing, as prepared by Moms Demand Action’s Shannon Watts. If he protests, remind him that his many tours in Vietnam do not constitute sufficient weapons training and that, anyway, Vietnam actually has a lower murder rate than the United States. If your grandfather has locked his firearms inside a safe in the basement, make him open it so that you can tell him indignantly to keep the guns locked and inaccessible.

6. The men decide it’s time to watch some football.

Football is a violent, regressive game that encourages hyper-masculinity and leads to the exploitation of the poor. Worse, men’s enthusiasm for it only reinforces gender stereotypes and the alcohol-industrial-complex. Without descending into tone-policing, cut the television’s power cables and suggest to your family that they host a conversation on race instead. If they refuse, accuse them of hate speech.

— Charles C. W. Cooke is a staff writer at National Review


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