When your premise is everyone acts as bad as you do, you are bound to be disappointed.
Over at LA Magazine Joel Stein was conducting a bit of a social experiment. The purported humor writer had the idea of wearing one of President Trump’s iconic red MAGA hats into a known liberal enclave (a vegan restaurant) and record the reactions. The impetus of Stein’s “brave” move was part of his upcoming book where he says he is researching political tribalism (The working title is “In Defense Of Elitism”, to give you a sense of his foundation.)
As a preamble to his entering a liberal lion’s den incognito, he details a trip he recently made in the heartland of Texas and found that people residing in a high-percentage region of Trump supporters were unfailingly nice and polite. He later worried those from (admittedly) his own side would not be as pleasant, citing instances of people heckling politicians from restaurants and protesting at the front door of conservative news pundits.
Stein himself betrayed a heavy dose of personal intolerance. He confesses to giving an elderly man the stink-eye for wearing what turned out to be a USC hat, and holding disdain for a father at his kid’s school over the mere rumor the man voted for Trump. Stein is clearly convinced his intolerant stance is the norm. Here is a revealing passage to his mindset.
I didn’t want to give $25 to Trump’s re-election campaign, so I bought a knockoff hat made in China for $8 on Amazon. The hate is so strong in me that I thought it was more ethical to support the Chinese government than Trump.
So he hates the man, who many on the left believe colluded with a communist regime, so much that he prefers giving his own money to a communist country, rather than his own President. You need little more to go on to grasp the imbalanced thinking of this elitist. Then he betrays a less than solid footing for the project on which he was about to embark.
I said goodbye to my lovely wife, Cassandra, who offered me half of a Xanax, which I foolishly refused.
This is a man going to a vegan restaurant in a hat, and he is so angst-ridden over this innocuous act he felt the need to be medicated for his mission.
I put my MAGA hat on for the first time and looked in the rearview mirror. I looked smug. I looked mean. I looked like someone I wanted to punch.
A hat did this. Stein acts as if he is a character in the Bugs Bunny short where a costume truck dumped items into a valley and all of the characters took on the personality of the various pieces of headgear that landed on them. Frankly, I think the premise of a man who was nervous about setting foot in a crowd of vegans in a baseball hat is ill-prepared to be punching anyone.
I saw that the patio was packed. I feared I’d have to wait for a seat, milling about alone and exposed. I scurried to the host stand and asked if I could order lunch at the nearly empty bar.
Uh yea, I am confident that sucker-punching someone over apparel is not in this guy’s skill set.
I stared at the options, trying to decide between a bowl of kale called “I Am Grateful” or a bowl of lentils called “I Am Humble” because I could not find a bowl called “I Am Scared Shitless”.
Seriously, the only thing to be fearful of here is that menu itself. But then again, I’m an avowed carnivore, so being afraid of running with dogs in the tall wheatgrass is not a natural reaction for me.
Before I left, I asked the black waiter, how he felt about my hat. “I don’t care. At all. Really. At all! I look at a hat and that doesn’t tell me who the person is,” he said.
Imagine that: someone exhibiting a sane and responsible reaction to — a hat. Here was a privileged and smug Left Coast elitist expecting a swath of the country to behave in accordance with his own prejudiced mentality. Instead he found that people in real life do not act like the unhinged and undermedicated attack minions we encounter on social media.
Following this dose of reality, and seeing the premise of his piece blown apart, Joel Stein was not encouraged at all by what he discovered. It is clear he entered into his experiment with bias and a heavy dose of projection. But upon watching his theory crumble easier than a brick of ramen noodles he does not experience a positive revelation.
No, like someone intent on finding something negative about “the other side”, he makes a completely dour and asinine conclusion.
The far right has become so normalized that no one said anything to a guy in a MAGA hat at Café Gratitude. I Am Not Sure How Great That Is.
See, ONLY the far right wears MAGA hats, according to Stein’s stunted thinking. And the fact that nobody approached in a violent manner to confront him is proof, somehow, that we have devolved into a nation that accepts…well, we do not know, specifically. He never explains what that “worst” part of people actually is in his assessment.
But Stein can only arrive at his conclusion that this non-confrontational experience is bad if he is assuming the absolute worst about a group to begin with. Despite the fact that he admits spending time in the bowels of Trump adoration, and only being granted warmth and acceptance by all he encountered, he still harbors the worst impression of those people.
And when he goes to the other side expecting to be harried and confronted with biased anger — finding only pragmatism and rationality — he interprets that non-reaction as a sign of some sort of surrender. Instead of seeing the non-judgemental reactions, he sees people resigned to what he knows to be an undercurrent of hate.
We just have to overlook the abject lack of any evidence. Stein conducts a social experiment, and then he proceeds to ignore the data he has collected, which blasted apart his hypothesis. Trust him, it is there. Because he knows better — which is to say, he actually knows it is worse.
Just don’t expect him to show you any results.