The Corner

Mailbag

Impromptus today has a gaudy variety, including an item about Ukrainian soldiers — who apparently haven’t performed too well while on U.N. peacekeeping assignment. A reader writes,

“I found it heartening to learn that Ukrainian soldiers on U.N. peacekeeping missions spend their time drinking or sleeping. It’s better than the way a lot of other U.N. peacekeeping troops spend their time, raping and stealing.”

He’s got me there. I also have an item on hissing — an old bugaboo of mine. I despise hissing, and people of a certain ideological disposition, and of a certain temperament, have done it all my life. In my column, I mention that an audience member hissed at a line — a perfectly innocuous and charming line — from L’italiana in Algeri.

The above-quoted reader writes, “You know why leftists hiss even at operas, although I was very pleasantly surprised that there was very little of that not long ago when the University of Michigan’s Gilbert & Sullivan society put on Princess Ida.”

I loved that: “very pleasantly surprised that there was very little of that” — because it would be too much to ask for none.

The reader continues, “Leftists need to display to everyone around them, as well as to themselves, their superior virtue and moral acuity. Hissing at a politically incorrect show — even if it’s for all practical purposes a museum piece — is necessary lest anyone think that you are not in the vanguard of goodthinkful people everywhere.”

I’ll remember that word “goodthinkful.” Another reader says, “I hissed on Sunday — but it was at our local historical melodrama, Shanghaied in Astoria, where hissing and booing the villain and his henchmen, and saying some lines along with the actors, and throwing popcorn at them, are all encouraged.”

Speaking of letters: At the end of Impromptus, I publish a letter from someone whose girlfriend recently worked at a retail clothing store in Chicago. She was relegated to the fitting rooms, because she was selling too much on the floor, making other clerks feel bad about themselves. Her manager wanted selling to be more equal.

This same employee was called on the carpet by management because, in the breakroom, she had mentioned that she owns a Bush-Cheney shirt. According to management, this offended some, and she was not to speak of it again.

In my column, I say that we ought to push back against this kind of thing. Jesse Jackson once had an “Operation PUSH.” How about an Operation Pushback?

A reader writes,

Here’s some pushback for you. Someone on my team once complained to my boss that I had weighty books on my desk, which intimidated her. It made her reluctant to ask me questions. (She was reluctant, all right, but for different reasons.) The boss asked me to keep my books in a drawer, rather than on the desk itself. I adamantly refused, and challenged my boss to fire me for my refusal.

In this case, the good guys — or good guy — won. Push back, y’all (where feasible — and it so often isn’t, I know).

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