Saturday, January 13, 2018

What’d they do?

Writing in The Washington Post, Philip Kennicott asks, “What did the men with Donald Trump do when he spoke of ‘shithole countries’?”:

This is the dinner table test: When you are sitting and socializing with a bigot, what do you do when he reveals his bigotry? I’ve seen it happen, once, when I was a young man, and I learned an invaluable lesson. An older guest at a formal dinner said something blatantly anti-Semitic. I was shocked and laughed nervously. Another friend stared at his plate silently. Another excused himself and fled to the bathroom. And then there was the professor, an accomplished and erudite man, who paused for a moment, then slammed his fist on the table and said, “I will never listen to that kind of language, so either you will leave, or I will leave.” The offender looked around the table, found no allies and left the gathering. I don’t know if he felt any shame upon expulsion.

comments: 8

Daughter Number Three said...

Ah, the confidence to act in such a way. The idea of a woman slamming her fist down like that seems highly unlikely to me.

I have two instances that have some similarity - one you know of from my blog post a few months ago, and one from a conversation with my brother-in-law. In that case, there are many more social/familial connections that cannot be broken. I just said, "I will not talk about this with you." And he stopped (he wanted to give "evidence" about the supposed science of intelligence by race). But my response does nothing about his long-term view on it.

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, with a family gathering, it might not be possible to make someone leave the table. But the shame could make someone begin to realize that such views may not always get a hearing.

The Crow said...

Why-oh-why-oh-why is he still in office?! I can only conclude that those in positions to remove him, who cry out against him, have been bought off, have given their souls over to the American Adolph-Idi-Amin.

Either that or he has released the racist in all of them, has made it okay for them to actively think these things again. It can not be too far distant before they will be spewing similar sentiments.

Michael Leddy said...

I think many do share similar attitudes, though they might be more decorous in their phrasing. And then there are those who are willing to go along even though they should know better. They’re being horribly short-sighted.

Frex said...

I've been thinking about this, and in the middle of last night I thought of a great movie I believe you've said you love--"Shadow of a Doubt"--
not exactly the same, but weirdly similar--
what do you do when a family member you love turns out to be Seriously Bad?

Michael Leddy said...

That movie has so many overtones today that probably weren’t apparent in the 1940s. Uncle, niece, a secret, can’t tell mom, it’d kill her.

The Post account makes me think of the movie’s dinner scene: Uncle Charlie’s misogyny begins seeping out and niece Charlie challenges him. And then her mother changes the subject.

Frex said...

Oh, yeah, I'd forgotten that scene!
It's disturbing.

Speaking of women hitting the table--have you watched "VEEP"?
There's a scene where President Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus)*practices* slamming her hands on the table in preparation for negotiations with the Chinese team, coached by my favorite character in the show, the former Lady President of Finland.
As Daughter No. 3 suggests, it doesn't come naturally, which is the source of the humor.

Michael Leddy said...

No, I’ve never seen Veep. Aha — it’s on HBO. Thinking about that image of practicing helps me understand how difficult it might be for a woman to have to “perform” authority.