Posted on December 23, 2003
Molly Ivins wants to raid your stockings
Haven't liberals done enough to spoil Christmas already? Evidently, syndicated columnist Molly Ivins thinks not. In her December 18th piece, Ivins came up with an idea for a quintessentially liberal holiday celebration: to take the money she might have otherwise used to buy presents for family and friends, and instead donate it, in their names, to fashionable left-wing causes. By doing that, she writes, "We can knock off our entire Christmas or Hanukkah gift lists without ever going near a mall."
They say it's the thought that counts. If that's true, then what counts for Ivins is sparing herself the bother of shopping for presents, and giving money to her own favorite charities, while the alleged recipients of the gifts get nothing -- other than solicitations for more donations in the future. It would be a whole lot more honest of her to make the donations in her own name, and just give everyone else coal.
The way Ivins explains it, being thought of as a good liberal is a better gift than anything that could be bought from a store. "Naturally, the cause to which you contribute in your loved ones' names will be happy to notify them said cause has received this generous contribution in their names -- and that, as a consequence, the said person is now held among the highest angels of goodness, enlightenment and generosity. Now, isn't that nicer than another popcorn popper?"
Well, the alternative doesn't have to be a cheap and thoughtlessly bought gizmo from the first display table you walk by. Most people try to find presents they think the people they're shopping for would like or might need. If they turn out to be wrong, at least the recipients of the presents will appreciate the effort.
Humbug, says Ivins: "Many of us already have too much stuff. There are entire stores now devoted to selling nothing but stuff to put our stuff in. Very few of us actually need a cordless electric flour sifter or a $6,000 shower curtain."
How convenient that she's unable to think of any gifts that anyone could possibly want or need. According to this rationalization, if your mother has no use for an oscillating, solar-powered, remote-controlled Pez dispenser, then you don't have to buy her anything at all. At least she'll be happy to know the money you would have spent is going to a good cause.
"At Christmas," Ivins writes, "we traditionally try to remember those most seriously afflicted by fate. Many newspapers run articles reminding us how hard life is for some and which organizations help them directly. ... But as we often discuss, pulling people who are drowning out of the river one by one isn't necessarily the wisest use of our resources. We need to go upstream and keep them from falling in, in the first place."
So what are the charities she is imploring liberals to give their Christmas and Hanukkah money? The first one she mentions is Doris "Granny D" Haddock, a 93 year-old New Hampshire woman who in recent years has become a crusader for campaign finance reform. "Those most seriously afflicted by fate" would be gratified to know that good liberals' resources are being used so wisely.
Next, Ivins points to an organization called Wellstone Action, founded in honor of the late Sen. Paul and Sheila Wellstone. It was their memorial last year at which the Democrats held that ghoulish pep rally that doomed Walter Mondale's candidacy. Wellstone Action operates a seminar called Camp Wellstone, which trains budding politicians on how to effectively campaign as "progressives." Its website boasts that "Paul Wellstone had a deep understanding of how progressives can win elections." Lesson one: move to Minnesota.
Ivins also proposes donating to left-wing media watchdog groups that conduct hatchet jobs on anyone in the press who strays from the liberal line. One of these organizations, comically called Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), routinely characterizes simple differences of opinion as "lies" by those with which it disagrees. FAIR's analyses are consistently so shallow, slanted, and themselves inaccurate, that Ivins might as well be giving her family's Christmas present money to Al Franken and Michael Moore. By this point, a bargain-bin "as seen on TV" popcorn popper has got to start looking pretty tantalizing by comparison.
Incredibly, she even names the ACLU as a suitable recipient of her family's and friends' vicarious generosity. Merry Christmas to the ACLU? It would be interesting to see what they'd do if she enclosed the checks in Christmas cards, preferably with images of the Virgin Mary holding the Christ child on the front. That could be the first time you'd ever see lawyers turn down money.
That organization's main mission these days is to stamp out any public reference to the true meaning of Christmas. The folks at the ACLU recoil from Christianity like a vampire from a ... well, you get the idea. Can you imagine them writing thank you notes to Ivins' relatives, telling them they're "now held among the highest angels of goodness"?
In light of this list of charities, take another look at Ivins' drowning metaphor. Are these pretentious left-wing causes really a wise use of resources to help those who are genuinely needy? By "those most seriously afflicted by fate" she must really mean liberal politicians and activists, who are the true objects of her charity.
If Ivins' acquaintances are as liberal and as politically active as she is, then it would make more sense for her to give them presents with a leftist theme. If she looked hard enough, maybe she could get her hands on a Karl Marx bobblehead, or a machine that makes soothing flag-burning noises while you sleep. At least that would be thoughtful.
Tellingly, she ends her column by declaring, "This should be our shining hour." Does liberal sanctimony know no bounds? While much of America is celebrating the birth of the Son of God, she declares the event to be "our [left-wing activists'] shining hour"? She's sure got her halo polished for the occasion.
What else that statement tells us is that Ivins considers herself to be not only a donor, but also a beneficiary, insofar as her ideology is concerned. Give your money to us liberal activists, is what she's really saying to her readers. We're a wiser use of resources than your holiday celebrations. Nuts to your family and friends. They've already got all the stuff they need. We need and deserve it more.
In years, unlike this one, when conservatives have actually made an effort to control the federal government's appetite for taxpayer-funded goodies, journalists and TV commentators could be counted on to tritely compare them to the Grinch who stole Christmas. Yet here we see one of the leading media liberals posing as Saint Nick, stuffing her sack with pantookers, tringlers, wozzels and such.
It's not at all uncommon for the American Left to try to ruin Christmas, usually by trying to rename it "Winter Holiday," or by twisting it into yet another banal celebration of "diversity." But Molly Ivins' claiming it as her ideology's "shining hour" takes the cake. ... Or the roast beast, as the case may be.
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