Progressive writer gives friend a MAGA hat ultimatum—friend wisely chooses hat
You don’t have to be friends with anyone, but if you’re going to be friends with someone, you should probably meet them where they stand. If you’re going to be friends with someone, you should love them as they are, and not try to change them. Zack Ford, writer for Think Progress and wokeist extraordinaire, thinks so much of his friendship that he gave one of his old friends an ultimatum: his friendship, or his friend’s MAGA hat. The friend chose the hat, and Ford was offended, but the friend was right, and Ford is just an ass.
This whole story came to light in Ford’s own newsletter, Fording the River Styx. He wrote about the incident with some measure of pride and self-congratulation at his fortitude in unfriending this old friend. The story goes that an old friend of his from high school appeared on his feed wearing a MAGA hat, while holding her baby daughter. The picture had a wholesome feel to it, and Ford couldn’t deal with the hat amidst all this wholesomeness. He reached out to his friend, an evangelical Christian, to explain to her just how damaging her hat was.
…seeing her proudly wearing a MAGA hat in public — and with her daughter no less — violated this accord deeply. It’s not just a hat. It’s a symbol of all of the oppression and injustice the Trump administration is responsible for. It’s an endorsement of caging kids, banning Muslims, firing trans people, and dozens of other ways Trump has undermined our democracy — up to and including the fascist military display that graced the National Mall last night. More than anything, “MAGA” represents the idea that some human lives are worth more than others.
When we get to the point that we are quibbling over symbols for which the meaning to one person and the meaning to another person differ so drastically, it’s no wonder that we can’t have lasting friendships. The hat as a symbol to the friend, and as a symbol to Ford, don’t have any similarity. Like the hat or not, it’s a hat, it’s fashion, and its meaning seems to be entirely in the eye of the beholder.
And if Ford believes that MAGA “represents the idea that some human lives are worth more than others,” he’s probably okay with the concept, just not how he believes it’s here applied. He was pretty vocal about the whole bakers have to decorate cakes even if they don’t want to thing because presumably the customers’ right to their beliefs is more important than the bakers’ rights to theirs.
I explained all of this to my old friend. To those inclined to reject the humanity of any particular group, a MAGA hat is a symbol of affirmation — license and encouragement to continue holding those beliefs. To members of those many rejected groups, it’s a threat — a warning that such prejudice is welcome in that person’s vicinity (and may come from them directly). It’s unacceptable to me to be subjected to that symbol from someone with whom I hypothetically have mutual trust.
All this from a hat, as though wearing a hat means all of those things. It’s not any more of a threat than Ford’s threat to pull his friendship. Friendships have been falling apart all over the place in the Trump era. We’re all so sure that we’re right, and that the very fate of the world depends on us being right, and that this righteousness means we have to point out and punish anyone and everyone who we think is wrong. On my Facebook feed, I see friends all the time worrying about how to still deal with family who they disagree with, or how to talk to friends with whom they disagree, or how to make sure everyone knows that the rich and varied hell of the worldscape, as everyone sees it from their own perspective, isn’t their fault, because they have the right views. Ford gave his friend a choice, his friendship or the hat. Presumably, he felt pretty righteous about this.
I gave my friend an ultimatum. I told her I wouldn’t unfriend her so long as she apologized for wearing the hat and promised me I wouldn’t have to see it in my feed again.
Righteousness is not the answer; it literally never is. Righteousness is itself intolerant. The problem with the demand for an apology is that, in this era of constant hand-wringing and mea culpas for every little infraction, apologies are meaningless. Not only do they not represent an actual repentance, they are not treated as such. Apologies are simply considered evidence of guilt, and not a path toward repentance, or changing one’s behaviour.
When she claimed I was trying to police her beliefs, I corrected her, pointing out that my conditions only regarded the hat, not her position on any particular issue. When she claimed that she’s equally offended by the Pride flag, I corrected her again, explaining that objecting to a symbol of inclusion is in no way comparable to objecting to a symbol of exclusion and that she was making a false equivalency. When she said, “If I can’t have an opinion about something then I guess I don’t really live in a free country,” I knew there was no longer enough common ground for us to have a relationship.
If any of us got a DM out of the blue from an old high school friend letting us know that our clothing offended them and they wanted us to not ever let them see it again, how would any of us react? Certainly not with an apology or a promise to make sure they never saw that clothing again. The idea of a person who would withhold friendship based on our clothing choices, or the beliefs they believe those clothes represents, makes the complainer a great candidate for someone to not be friends with anymore. Also he corrected her with regard to his perception about her beliefs, but when she corrected him about his perception of hers, he simply believed her to be intransient.
We have free speech, but we don’t have freedom from accountability for that speech. Anyone reading this is free to wear a MAGA hat, but you can’t both wear a MAGA hat and claim to “love thy neighbor.” You can’t both wear a MAGA hat and claim to respect me or millions of other Americans. You can’t both wear a MAGA hat and believe that you’re not reinforcing hate and oppression against others. We’re way too far past such naivete at this point, and I certainly want no part in helping you to convince yourself otherwise.
This is the real kicker. In policing his friend’s clothes, and claiming to not police her beliefs, he is assessing her value according to his perceived tenets of her stated religion. If he were to dig a little deeper, he would find that the concept of loving thy neighbor is not about judging people for not loving you, but about you, yourself, loving others.
In a little church called Saint Clare’s last weekend, where I’d never been before, I heard the good father deliver a homily on a similar topic. He said, in short, don’t let others’ behaviour become a basis for your own. Don’t be always reacting to how others act, but choose your own course, in accordance with how you wish to behave. You can’t change others, you can only change yourself. Ford was out of line in demanding both an apology and the removal of his friend’s hat. Friendship is not about imposing terms and conditions, it is about acceptance, love, and compassion. If Ford couldn’t open his heart to his friend, his friend is probably better off without his friendship.
A former national security adviser to the prime minister told military officials that Canada’s perception of the threats posed by Russia and China need to be clearly recognized, especially as the United States shifts towards a more isolationist economy, reports the CBC.
“The risks posed by these two countries are certainly different, but they are generally based on advancing all their interests to the detriment of the West,” said Richard Fadden, former national security adviser to Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper.
“Their activities span the political, military and economic spheres.”
Fadden, who also served as head of CSIS and as deputy defence minister, made the comments at the annual Vimy Ridge Dinner in Ottawa.
Russia and China have both shown a willingness to “use virtually any means to attain their goals,” while the U.S. has shown at various instances that it’s willing to withdraw from global trade.
The rise of American isolationism, Fadden says, means Canada will need to seek new avenues in addressing global crises without the United States, and instead, with other allies.
But in order to do so, Fadden says, Canada needs to recognize drastic changes that have occurred on the world stage over the last decade.
Canada should “recognize our adversaries for what they are, recognize we have to deal with them, but draw clear limits to what we will accept,” he said.
According to Fadden, Ottawa and our federal leaders need to recognize that the post-Cold War world order “with comprehensive U.S. leadership is gone, and is not coming back in the form we knew.”
While serving as CSIS director years ago, Fadden noted the rise of Chinese influence throughout Canadian municipal and provincial politics.
“The West does not have its act together as much as it could and should,” said Fadden.
Fadden echoed similar sentiment as former U.S. national security advisor Susan Rice, who recently told the CBC that she believed Huawei phones, made by a company who American officials believe is puppeteered by the Chinese communist party, posed a major threat to national security.
“It’s hard for me to emphasize adequately, without getting into classified terrain, how serious it is, particularly for countries involved in the Five Eyes,” said Rice explaining the severity of the threat, while suggested the signals intelligence alliance (Five Eyes) between U.S., Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia would be put into serious jeopardy if Canada went ahead with Huawei 5G.
Fadden also pointed out that radicalization was occurring beyond the confines of Islam and violent right-wing terrorism has become a growing concern.
“Right-wing terrorism is growing and, like its cousin jihadist terrorism, it is a globalized threat,” he said. “We will ignore it at our peril.”
On Remembrance Day, Don Cherry was fired from Sportsnet for a comment he made on Coach’s Corner regarding poppies. He complained that not enough immigrants were wearing them and suggested that it represented a general ingratitude by immigrants of the benefits they enjoy by living in Canada.
His comment, now dubbed the “‘you people’ comment”, caused predictable outrage. The state broadcaster pointed out that Cherry’s remarks could not possibly have merit because of the fact that there are visible minorities who fought for this country. Try not to think too hard about the fact that they conflated visible minorities with immigrants. I happen to be both, but many Canadians happen to be one or the other.
Many in the media interpreted (some in bad faith) it as an attack on all minorities through Canadian history. While there is a general stereotype that people of colour were not born in Canada, I dare claim that it is a fast disappearing one, at least from personal experience having lived most of my life in Ontario.
Unfortunately, while that stereotype is on the decline, another is on the rise. Even more unfortunately, the one that is on the rise has an uncomfortably high level of merit. After all, Don Cherry did not come up with an original idea, he merely expressed the “wrong” opinion in the “wrong” forum.
I know many fellow immigrant-minorities who find it quite puzzling that the mainstream media and a large section of society simply cannot fathom why racist attitudes are apparently becoming more prevalent and acceptable by progressives who hurl racist abuse against anyone who does not accept the “woke” dogma of the day and by the sentiment sometimes called “whitelash”. Did the white people of Canada spontaneously develop previously a non-existent or hidden collective race consciousness?
On the contrary, I cautiously claim that as each generation in society has its own cultural features, so do successive waves of immigrants. This is true regardless of the predominant country of origin or religion of any given wave of immigration. Not that immigrants are the same regardless of their origin, but that immigrants of the same origin will still tend to behave differently depending on when they came to Canada, and this is likely true even correcting for the amount of time spent in Canada.
In other words, an immigrant of “minority x” in 1990 who immigrated in 1975 will be systematically different from an immigrant of the same “minority x” in 2015 who immigrated in 2000. This is despite the fact that they are from essentially the same origin and have spent the same amount of time in Canada. This should not be a controversial statement.
This is because of two changing variables: the state of society in the country of origin, and the state of society in the destination country. Our society has definitely been changing, so it should not be a surprise if the way we integrate immigrants into our society changes as well. In fact, there may be a very strong case that our “immigration culture” has been changing mostly not because of changes in where our immigrants come from or their culture, but because of changes in our own culture and championing the “cultural mosaic”.
Not many people would argue with the fact that our society has become much more accommodating of social minorities, such as people in the LGBTQ community or people living with disabilities. Hopefully, not many people would argue with the claim that this is largely a positive thing for society as a whole.
Under Canadian Human Rights Law, individuals must be accommodated by society, including the government, employers, service providers, and other individuals. This accommodation must seek to prevent discrimination based on a “prohibited ground” to the point of “undue hardship”. Setting aside whether we as a society have enumerated the proper “prohibited grounds”, whether “undue hardship” is an appropriate threshold, or whether that threshold is interpreted as it should be, it is definitely reasonable for individuals to expect at least some accommodation from society because we do not all share the same characteristics, disadvantages, and capabilities, and a blanket allowance for all forms of discrimination will create discontent and will exclude too many people for society to function well.
For much of history, this accommodation was arguably too little, and we had been moving in the right direction for a long time. However, somewhere along the way, it became inappropriate to consider the extent to which individuals can be expected to accommodate society. Society is made up of individuals, and it is impossible for millions of idiosyncrasies to be accommodated perfectly. One individual’s right is necessarily another individual’s duty not to infringe upon that right. Where we create more rights, we create more duties for others.
I am not trying to argue that the poor white people of Canada are being victimized because they now have more duties not to infringe upon others’ rights not to be unfairly discriminated against. Rather, it is that rights must have a limit, or we create unlimited duties that can have negative consequences or even become impractical.
The phrase “Islam is right about women” is one illustration of this conflict. The phrase was coined to point out a popular contradiction in our modern outrage culture. The idea is that you can either be offended because you think the statement is discriminatory against either muslims or women, but thinking that it is discriminatory against muslims is sexist and thinking that it is discriminatory against women is Islamophobic. The phrase does not claim that Islam is worse for women than any other religion, and there is a good case that Christianity, as with most other religions, are sexist as well, at least by modern western standards. However, the illustration only works because muslims are considered, rightfully in my opinion, to face disproportionately high levels of unfair discrimination.
Other examples include: lessons promoting LGBTQ equality being pulled from classrooms because of complaints by immigrants that such ideas infringe upon freedom of thought or religion, claims by trans activists that lesbians are transphobic for refusing to sleep with people with penises, or labelling the term “bisexual” as exclusionary of non-binary individuals.
Excuse the cliche, but the point is this: we can’t only keep asking what our country can do for us, and not what we can do for our country. The country is nothing more than a collection of us, and we can’t expect all of us to do everything for each individual while making no attempt to fit into our society.
Canadians are bound together by what we have in common, but without the effort of individuals, the few remaining values that hold us together will only continue to weaken and we will become ever more divided into factions competing to score the biggest take for their particular team. Soon, there could be nothing we have in common with each other, other than our shared struggle to compete with each other for resources.
Diversity does not make balkanization inevitable, but our current societal trajectory probably does when “diversity is our strength” is zealously pushed without expecting some common values and customs to be upheld to keep us all together.
Don Cherry was merely pointing out one aspect of that fact.
While landlocked, Alberta could be seeing interest from as far as Spain.
According to a recent report by Bloomberg News, the Spanish oil company Repsol is considering purchasing as much as half-a-million barrels of heavy crude a month from the western province, and in turn, transporting it to Europe through rail and shipping through Montreal’s ports.
The company is currently considering multiple locations including New Jersey, as it struggles to make up the production lost in Venezuela and Mexico.
If a deal is made, it could be seen as a boon to the Kenney government in Alberta, as European deals involving Canadian oil are rare. For example, only 400,000 barrels of Alberta oil was sent in the last year to the U.K, one of Canada’s largest European trading partners.
The shipment could also revive moral in the overall industry which has recently seen former giants such as Encana move south, where the regulatory environment, as well as access to capital, is seen as more favourable.
Some crimes really leave you stunned. Two youths have now been arrested after a 14-year old girl was shot in each leg in a North York apartment.
According to a report by CP24, Police were called to Finch and Weston Road location after a weapon was fired inside the apartment. Officers arriving, met a fairly horrific scene. A young girl shot in both legs inside the lobby.
The Police believe the girl was with five males when the gun was “accidentally discharged”.
She then ran into the lobby for help.
Two youths have since been arrested are facing charges of careless storage of a firearm, careless use of a firearm, and possessing a loaded regulated firearm.
The two charged cannot be identified under the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.