Whereas social scientists and scientists are usually data-bound (not that it makes a difference to our current federal government), humanists like me are sometimes fond of “emblematic events.” I witnessed one this morning outside my local Starbucks in Tacoma. I was walking out of the cafe with my drink, and there was another fellow standing outside drinking his beverage. A third fellow had driven up and parked, and he had the door to his large truck open. Miffed, he said to the other fellow, “Why would someone do that?”
Soon I realized he was talking about a rather large quantity of coffee with milk that had been dumped or spilled on the pavement right below his truck. Although the quantity was large, the presence of such liquid in the parking lot outside Starbucks is not unheard of. Sometimes people open their car door and pour out remaining liquid from their commuter cups. I wouldn’t call it the ideal way to get rid of old coffee, but it’s more or less harmless. The liquid evaporated rapidly; it isn’t toxic.
The man got out of his large truck. By this time I was moving on toward my car. The other fellow, alas, was trapped. The man from the truck, in his late 50s or early 60s, had gotten out of his truck. He said to the other fellow sarcastically, “God Bless liberalism!” This was follow-up to “Why would someone do that?”
Immediately I grasped the chain of reasoning. Starbucks is a “liberal” corporation is the first link. Thus a liberal had spilled or dumped the coffee.
Right after Trump got elected, one fellow kept coming to my local wearing an enormous Trump button, as big as a saucer. He was obviously on a mission to put the victory in the face of the “liberals” who visit Starbucks. Of course, there is no sure way to tell what the politics are of the customers, as they represent quite a cross-section of Tacoma residents and visitors. The customers merely ignored him the way most people used to ignore LaRouche folks outside post offices.
Another time–I think it was on a day that had been chosen by pro-gun activists–a fellow had come in with his family, ordered drinks, and sat down–and we all saw that he had strapped on a holster with a pistol in it. It was a show-liberals-your-gun day. Like Mr. Saucer-Button, he didn’t seem to get the reaction he was looking for.
Anyway, the fellow offended by the spilled milk–and indeed, the volume made spilling, not dumping, the likely event–then walked closer to the fellow who was just trying to enjoy his beverage, and who simply nodded politely, if guardedly, at whatever the other guy said. The complaining man said, in a fabulous non sequitur, “I just heard that you’re supposed to say ‘chest’ when you really mean ‘tits.'”
Emblematic indeed. “Liberalism” is now expanded to include anything thought to be a transgression, like spilling/dumping coffee on asphalt. Second, one transgression may be linked randomly to another “liberal” disease, such as “political correctness.” The fellow obviously was put out by “having to” (of course, no one was forcing him) say “chest” when he meant “tits.” Misogyny doesn’t like “political correctness,” for it is “liberal” and therefore evil. Round and round the confused thinking goes.
And then there was the rage. The fellow was ready to be angry at anything. And the entitlement: he obviously thought the man he made listen to him owed him an audience for his irrationality. And finally, the absence of satisfaction. Electing Trump was not and could not be enough. The rage and the pose of an aggrieved victim must go on. They feel too good, I suppose. And although Starbucks is “liberal,” you still have to go there, I guess, because that feels good, too, in some perverse way.
It is a mass psychosis we are dealing with. And the other guy and I just wanted to get and drink a warm beverage.