Friday, March 09, 2007

Victimhood part 2

Following up on the previous post, our tale continues a second day. Not wanting to let the point drop, the white, male with moderate to conservative points of view (I erroneously wrote that he was moderate to liberal before and have since found out that he's a card carrying member of the Republican party with a small libertarian streak in him) decided to bring up the issue of holidays. Seeing as the time of this conversation was shortly before President's Day, he used that occassion to sneak in his rant about race, or in particular, black history month.

Him (to a customer, no less, but with me standing near by): "Yea, I don't know why we're closed on President's Day. I'd much rather have it at a different time of year like, say, June or July when I could enjoy the weather."

He says goodbye to the customer, then turns to me: "I don't know why we have President's Day or Martin Luther King Day off, anyhow. I don't think we should. What do you think?"

Me: "I think we should have more days off during the year, including more 3 day weekends. In fact, I think we should have 1 three day weekend per month. If I had my druthers, I'd add those and then for every month that already had a three day weekend, like May, I'd add an extra one. Three day weekends are good for workers and they are good for families. As Martin Luther King Day has so aptly demonstrated a three day weekend will not bring the business world or it's efficiencies to it's knees. In fact, most of the world celebrates more holidays than the U.S. and does quite well."

Him: "Well, I agree with that."

Me: "If you agree with adding more holidays, then why do you care about which ones are celebrated? Why do you care about Martin Luther King Day or President's Day? I don't celebrate the Presidents on their holiday. I just go out and enjoy the time off in what ever manner I please. Similarly, I don't celebrate the baby Jesus on Easter or Christmas because I'm not a Christian, but I'm still appreciative of the time off. Nor do I honor the veterans on Memorial Day or Veteran's Day when I think veterans should generally be honored by providing them with the benefits that they deserve year round. I don't read the Constitution or the Declaration on Independence Day, though I have been known to pick up Thomas Paine's Common Sense on that day. Nor do I honor the pilgrims and their native comrades on Thanksgiving or Labor in September. For me, it doesn't matter what we pretend to celebrate because I don't think most people care. It's just nice to have a respite to enjoy with family and friends. It even can help retail businesses that decide to remain open. So, do you celebrate each and every one of the holidays that mean something more to you? Do you go to worship or attend parades or visit hospitals or graves on these holidays or do you do something for yourself?"

Him: "I'm more likely to do something for myself or with family."

Me: "Exactly. So why does Martin Luther King or President's Day bother you so much?"

Him, stammering a little: "Like I said, I just wish it was at a better time of year."

Me: "Like I said, why take away those days? Why not just add more? I don't really care what days you add either. You can add Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush day and it would just be like the others to me in that I'd have another day off. Besides, winter is a time of grave depression for a lot of people. Cloudy skies, snow, rain - it can become seasonal affective disorder. So, those people probably appreciate a little time off. Why harm them? Finally, I don't know about you, but I can find plenty to enjoy - indoors and out - when I have a day off no matter what time of year."

With that the conversation ended. He walked away from me and has not raised the issue since. What is it about some people that they disdain the simple pleasures of a little time off and would therefore deny it to others? He, as I, gets paid for the time off, so it's certainly not a failing of the pocketbook. In reality the President's Day issue was a red herring devised to introduce his real issue which was Martin Luther King Day. He's one of those people that despise celebrating this great American. Whether or not one believes King's legacy was somehow enhanced by his death, it is certainly a legacy worth celebrating and honoring. For some reason that bothers some people to no end and the only reason that I can conclude for that is that it comes down to race.

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