WILLIAM MURCHISON: The Questionable Fun of Yelling ‘Boo, Hiss!’

June 11, 2019

Now, hear this: Anti-Chick-fil-A San Antonio mayor narrowly reelected this past weekend over pro-Chick-fil-A candidate! Proving …

Come on, my eyelids are drooping. The lack of an answer proves what? That the era of the non-issue issue has yet a ways to run? Yes, that may be it. Alas.

I can’t believe I’m writing about a fast-food franchise. It’s come to that. In the eyes of my progressive friends (some of them), the dividing line between righteousness and evil passes through the drive-thru window. We’re reduced to a love of ideological bickering over what a free-born American does with his hard-earned money, I guess. And therefore, in a democratic republic launched by the likes of Hamilton, Madison and Jefferson, informed debate turns to nattering and accusation. Civic commitment means personal readiness to yell: “You’re a rotten person! Boo, hiss!” The founders hoped for much more. Some are surely spinning in their graves.

San Antonio’s city council was both praised and blasted a couple of months ago due to banning Chick-fil-A service at the local airport. A kick in the tail feathers, this, to a nationwide fast-food chain distinguished by its customer service (flowers on the table, avoidance of “No problem” as a server response) along with high culinary quality — a chain faulted, nevertheless, for contributing money to operations such as the Salvation Army that some progressives blame for impeding the LGBTQ agenda.

Proving what, I say again? Mostly that the historic terms of civic virtue require refurbishing — while there’s time, before we forget entirely that the terms of our life together as a people relate theoretically to the furtherance of virtuous freedom and a spirit of general happiness. “To secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” — wasn’t that the Constitution’s challenge to us? We’ve wandered, which isn’t the fault of Clinton voters specifically or of Trumpians specifically.

The product boycott as symbol of moral virtue? Pass the smelling salts. What about, alternatively, the production of useful civic ideas? Any halfwit, such as the author of these present lines, can boycott. The present author, perversely, declines to pay a pfennig or a slot machine slug for Ben and Jerry’s Bolshevik ice cream. What’s that got to do with anything — other than the working off of some undoubtedly narrow antagonisms?

What the author would really prefer is for those filthy rich bolshies up in Sandersland to work with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Study Committee on ways of keeping entitlement excesses from taking us down as a prosperous nation. Wouldn’t that make a lot more sense than treading underfoot a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s? I admit it.

Or what about a nationwide effort really, truly to improve educational opportunity in economically and sociologically depressed communities? What about arguing and preaching and propagandizing in behalf of a return to some lost understanding of abortion and cohabitation as sociologically inferior (and dangerous) substitutes for good old life-creating, life-affirming marriage?

The narrowing of the American mind to the production of boycott slogans, and the verbal tarring and feathering of political opponents, has taken place under the gaze of a generation once called “the brightest” ever. Brightest, my hind foot, if all this is the best we have to show for 40 years of application to the task of overhauling a nation more in need of foundational repairs than of reinvention.

Reinvention — more government control, less freedom to spend or donate your money without moral reprobation — looks like the chief aim of the Sanders-Warren-O’Rourke set, whose creative juices, channeled toward restoration work, would count for a bunch more than they do now.

Not that I anticipate such a happy outcome. Slogans, boycotts and epithets fall more readily from the assembly line than do rational policy proposals — and are so much more cheap fun. The joy that must come from saying, “Don’t you dare eat that chikin!” I can’t see it, but I’ll bet you the reelected mayor of San Antonio can. So there!

William Murchison is writing a book on American moral restoration in the 21st century. His latest book is “The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson.” 

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William Murchison

William Murchison began writing his syndicated column in 1981. His right-leaning points of view have been found in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Human Life Review, First Things, Touchstone, and National Review. This content is provided courtesy of Creators Syndicate.