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From the Mission District in San Francisco

I’m beginning to think that left wing politics is the object of a higher grasp, so to speak, or at least that this is how it must appear to its critics. There are those, of course, who simply reject left wing politics outright. Hell, there are those for whom scorn of left wing politics is a favorite sport. But what really fascinates me about the response to various left wing messages are the number of people who can’t quite bring themselves to say ‘no’ outright. Instead, they have all sorts of advice for the lefties among us. You’d almost think these critics were down to help, assuming of course that help means something else.

And by ‘something else’, I mean, something other than anything actually requested at any particular time. The ‘else’ in this case is that ineffable thing in itself. Whatever thing a lefty actually wants to see done today, whatever case he makes for it, whatever she does to draw attention to that case, well that thing that is surely out of the question. But something else? Some other request or demand, made by some other person in some other way…

I expect the folks in the not-your-mascot movement could write a book about all the helpful suggestions they’ve gotten over the years. Instead of protesting a football mascot or opposing a team name, so the thinking goes, y’all should be fixing the reservations, feeding the hungry in Native American communities, and just generally doing practical things to help indigenous people. Rarely do those offering such advice take stock of the actual efforts of such activists to help out their communities, and these critics don’t seem at all impressed by the many Native American activists who say that issues like derogatory sports teams may have something to do with the larger problems facing their people. No, the response is as simple as it is common. Stop protesting and go do something more helpful.

I hope I’ll be excused for suspecting that the ‘stop protesting’ is a little more important to those offering such advice than the “go do something more important.”

Those taking a knee at football games have certainly received similar advice. People just want to watch the game, so they are told. This isn’t the right time to protest, and when the National Anthem is playing, well then, that CERTAINLY isn’t the right time to protest! Anyway, this is all much too divisive. You’ll only alienate people. The players protesting are rich and pampered anyway, so what do they have to protest? If they want to help out more, then they should donate money and do charity work in their own communities.

You read all this stuff, and you might be tempted to think some of these critics aren’t open to concerns about possible police abuse at all, but surely that isn’t the case! Those criticizing protesters couldn’t be more clear about their willingness to consider the issue.

On another day.

In another context.

With a different messenger.

After that messenger has done a certain number of other things to earn their respect.

On this last point, you might be tempted to suggest that people like Colin Kaepernick have indeed given to charity and actively worked to help those in need, but of course this is missing the point. Clearly, he and those with him need to do more. If they do more, then people will listen to them.


…just not during the Anthem.

Every major mass-shooting seems to trigger a wave of similar advice. Don’t politicize this! It’s too soon! Now is not the time to raise questions about gun control. Nope! Not now. Not yet.

…maybe later.

So, it seems that America might one day have a serious talk about gun control. It will have to be scheduled during an intermission of indeterminate length between actual mass shootings. This will of course require the cooperation of mass shooters, because they will have to create a pause in the carnage of sufficient length to allow the keepers of the conversation to make the call. It’s not clear just how long we must all wait between shootings, but presumably when the time frame is reached, the keepers of the conversation will proclaim the moment and we can begin to deal with the issues in a serious manner. Surely, they will tell us, when it is time! This whole too-soon thing couldn’t just be a stalling tactic. They will tell us when it is time. Until then, well, it is just to soon.

Hell, it’s too soon to ask if it’s to soon.

Shame on you for wondering about it!

Of course, one might be excused for thinking that the moment any of these conversations could take place (when the issues aren’t in the news and at events people aren’t paying attention to) would in effect constitute precisely the sort of time when the public finds the whole topic easiest to ignore, but such thoughts are far too cynical! Surely, all this advice is sincere. Surely, all these people telling us its the wrong time and the wrong message mean what they say.  If only the right version of any of these messages reached their ears and eyes, they would happily consider the whole thing.

But that never seems to happen!

The actual left wing politics that we see in America is just just a little too human to be worthy of consideration. The real message, the ones so many keep saying they would consider, always seem to rest out there somewhere in the world of possibility, just a bit beyond the grasp of mere mortals. If only we could ever confront that message in itself, the real message, the properly timed message, phrased in just the right way, and put forward by the right person with just the right presentation to be worthy of consideration. Hell, I don’t know that the left wing messages could or even should win out in such an event (a lot depends on the particulars), but that’s rather academic at this point, because the time is not yet right. Under the right conditions, so it would seem, we could at least consider those lefty messages. Until then? Well, we all seem to have better things to do.

You know, like sitting on our couches watching other people do stuff.

And drinking beer.