The Fake Wars—#Aftselakhis

2017-05-01 – Happy May Day!

If you want to get your hackles up over whether May Day is a labor holiday, welcome to the fake wars.

Fake wars are wars over things that make little difference. Fake wars are fought for no reason other than to prove to yourself how superior you are over your opponent. Fake wars can never be won or list. They go on forever, or vanish in a puff of forgetfulness if a more interesting fake war captures your imagination.

Fake wars thrive over parsing people’s every statement, looking for a micro-aggression. Macro-aggressions will not do for a fake war.

Today’s fake war was over President Trump’s understanding of the causes of the Civil War and whether a great negotiator (like Andrew Jackson—or himself) would have been able to avert it.

Fantasy football.

Fake wars are easy because they are not about engaging with an opponent. Fake wars are about ginning up controversy. Here’s another one that emerged this week.

Yale grad students have been trying to get the Yale University administration to recognize and bargain with a union over the conditions and benefits from student employment. Despite a vote on unionization, the Yale administration had been dragging its feet on beginning negotiations. To combat the delay, some of the students began a hunger strike.

Conservatives have mocked the hunger strike as failing to adhere to the “rules of hunger-striking” or some such thing—apparently because the hunger strikers have not committed themselves to starving to death. To elevate their mockery, Yale’s College Republicans held a barbecue next to the hunger strikers to torment the strikers with the aroma of food and entice them to break their strike.

It’s all hilarious.

Because neither side is engaging with the issues. Instead of discussing the right (or lack thereof) of student employees to unionize, the discussion has become about tactics. About yards gained or lost. It seems to me that neither side is advancing their case. It’s about mockery and getting attention and being seen.

It’s about spite. #Aftselakhis.

Republicans are fairly good at acting out without advancing their cause. For seven years they demanded repeal of Obamacare, but when they finally got the reins of government. For decades they’ve said they oppose the ruling in Roe v. Wade, but for decades they have opposed measures that have actually reduced the numbers of abortions. Out of spite. Aftselahkis.

But Republicans don’t own spite. I’ve been writing for some time about Democratic disdain for the working class and rural poor (here’s my latest). Why are we like this? Out of spite. It only runs contrary to our stated beliefs to act in this way.

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