LA Times writer struggles against the kindness of Trump voters and their snow plow
By now, you might have heard: Virginia Heffernan, a Los Angeles Times opinion columnist, previously considered level-headed, wrote a column about Trump supporters who cleared snow from her driveway at her COVID getaway dacha, and how the routine act of country-people kindness left her utterly befuddled, grateful for their work yet unable to accept it because of 'who they are.'
Struggling for comparisons, she compared them to Nazis, to Hezb'allah, to French collaborators, to Louis Farrakhan, unable to recognize that the kind deed had absolutely no conditions. Unlike those creatures, the country neighbors never asked about her politics, and now that they must know, given the stir the column caused, probably still don't care. They just helped her, because that's what neighbors do. And to Heffernan, it was all so utterly foreign.
"This is also kind of weird. Back in the city, people don’t sweep other people’s walkways for nothing," she wrote, unable to fathom the ordinary country kindnesses, neighbor looking after neighbor in extreme weather, which had been going on.
And having lived in the South Bronx, I've got news for Virginia: Yes, people in the city do sweep each others' driveways and expect nothing in return. You have to be poor and Puerto Rican or Dominican or Nigerian or Guyanese immigrants, though, to understand that one. The whole concept of neighbor helping neighbor, is what's called 'community.' It doesn't really happen among the elites, because gobs of money is their substitute.
Byron York's tweet sequence was when I first saw it, the whole thing is worth a look:
Dilemma for writer Virginia Heffernan. When it snows at her 'pandemic getaway,' helpful neighbors plow her driveway unbidden. Do a 'great job.' What a nice thing! They don't do this in the city! Only problem: Neighbors support Trump. 1/10 https://t.co/cwwBY3oK1Q— Byron York (@ByronYork) February 7, 2021
The disgusting part is when Heffernan tries to reconcile her desire to show gratitude with her hatred for Trump and his voters. Instead of saying 'thank you,' like normal people do, she'd instead preach to them her political views and offer them atonement if they convert to them, something she's sure they'd appreciate.
So here’s my response to my plowed driveway, for now. Politely, but not profusely, I’ll acknowledge the [Sen. Ben] Sassian move. With a wave and a thanks, a minimal start on building back trust. I’m not ready to knock on the door with a covered dish yet.
I also can’t give my neighbors absolution; it’s not mine to give. Free driveway work, as nice as it is, is just not the same currency as justice and truth. To pretend it is would be to lie, and they probably aren’t looking for absolution anyway.
But I can offer a standing invitation to make amends. Not with a snowplow but by recognizing the truth about the Trump administration and, more important, by working for justice for all those whom the administration harmed. Only when we work shoulder to shoulder to repair the damage of the last four years will we even begin to dig out of this storm.
The hard and tangible and verifiable act of kindness stacks up poorly to Heffernan's phony abstract about 'justice and truth' and 'all those whom the administration harmed,' not a one of whom she can name other than her furious self. The neighbors did something real. The 'harm' is something that dances around in her head. Her ending, though, is the worst: "Only when we work shoulder to shoulder to repair the damage of the last four years will we even begin to dig out of this storm." Earth to Virginia: "Who is this 'we you speak of, Kemosabe?" The neighbors already dug you out without you.
Heffernan has the fundamental problem of hating Trump's supporters as intensely as she hates President Trump. Her offer to facilitate their contrition is amazingly un-self-aware hubris. The first thing she needs to do on such matters is look into the mirror.
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