Thursday, November 26, 2020


Roy Edroso directs our attention to a National Review column in which Michael Brendan Dougherty denounces efforts to curb large Thanksgiving gatherings. Dougherty tells us:
Back on April 1, I wrote that this COVID-19 purgatory was no way to live. That we should try never to get used to it.
Here's the problem with so many right-wing attacks on pandemic public health measures, from high-minded writers like Dougherty as much as from conspiracy-minded MAGA cheerleaders: These folks believe that you and I want to hang on to COVID restrictions forever. The crazies think this is a George Soros/Bill Gates plot to weaken our national will so Americans can be microchipped and accept a socialist takeover -- but even Dougherty believes that adhering to public health protocols for a limited period of time could weaken our precious bodily fluids and make us want to accept the socialist yoke. Or something like that.

Dougherty continues:
Politicians and average people were becoming nastier and weirder, and accepting infringements on human life that were unthinkable. A British human-rights lawyer suggested Prime Minister Boris Johnson move Christmas to February.

She’s wrong, Christmas is not an arbitrary date. And although she has the debility of coming from a culture used to dictatorial interference in religion, the liturgical calendar is not subject to even the British parliament.
Of course, Christmas is an arbritrary date, in the sense that even theologians doubt that Jesus was born on December 25. But Simor isn't talking about the liturgical calendar in any case -- she's talking about Christmas gatherings and Christmas dinner and Christmas crackers and so on, none of which are in the Bible. Nothing prevents a Christian from acknowledging the birth of Jesus on December 25 while planning a family gathering for a post-vaccine world.

Thanksgiving falls where it does for its reasons too. Holidays and feasts are supposed to interrupt the then-current events. Even horrible ones, such as our pandemic and its restrictions. We celebrate by resting from work and feasting, because heaven is a banquet and a feast, a place where our labors have ceased.
In fact, we don't know when the 1621 Thanksgiving took place -- it was, we're told, "sometime between late September and mid-November." It wasn't called Thanksgiving at the time, and the first day commemorated by the Pilgrims as Thanksgiving was a day of prayer and fasting in 1623 -- July 1623. And the 1621 feast actually followed an epidemic of smallpox or another disease, from 1616 to 1619, that wiped out the majority of coastal Indians. Wampanoag Indians sought an alliance with the settlers because, after that period of mass death, they wanted to fend off the Narragansetts, with whom they were at war.

I imagine that Dougherty doesn't want to hear any of this and believes that whatever the historical facts, God in His infinite wisdom gave us Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November so we'd eat a lot of turkey and think about the heavenly kingdom, perhaps between quarters of various football games. (If Thanksgiving is so important to Dougherty's faith, I wonder why he thinks the Lord hasn't given it to people from other countries.)

I'm not saying all this because I'm against celebrating Thanksgiving. I like celebrating Thanksgiving. I trust we'll be able to do so without restrictions next year, and I'm all for that.

Which is why I take offense at the title of Dougherty's column:
Thanksgiving, If You Can Keep It
The story is told that Ben Franklin, at the end of the Constitutional Convention, was asked whether America's government would be a monarch or a republic, and he replied, "A republic, if you can keep it." The implication was that a republican form of government can be mismanaged, and ultimately lost.

The implication wasn't that a republican form of government might be temporarily suspended in response to an emergency, with a universal agreement that everyone would return to the status quo ante after the emergency passed. That's where we are on coronavirus restrictions. Even those of us who strongly support them want them to be over and done with as soon as it's safe to get rid of them.

But Dougherty doesn't believe that. He worries that we'll "get used to" them. Are you getting used to them? I'm not.

The right doesn't believe that. Even at the brainier right-wing sites, the belief is that we like bending to the yoke, and we want to make everyone else bend as well. Me, I eagerly look forward to the day when none of this is necessary.

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