By Mary Katharine Ham
Friday, August 04, 2017
This week, famous millennial journaler Lena Dunham was strolling through an airport eavesdropping on a couple of flight attendants. There she was, just a right-thinking individual with fluency in approved language and a desire for a kind and compassionate society, when she heard a conversation that violated her sense of an ideal society.
Then, as any individual principally interested in kindness and empathy would do, she reported the flight attendants’ conversation to their bosses at American Airlines.
Then, filled once more with the compassion and humility that are her hallmarks, Dunham broadcast this conversation, and her reporting of it, to her millions of social media followers. American Airlines is reportedly looking into it.
Because how, pray tell, could the world be a good place if middle-class flight attendants are allowed to talk to their friends at work in any way that gives this rich, famous public emoter a sad? What have we become, as a country, if millionaire, private-school progeny of Brooklyn art-scene families can’t have their exact conception of acceptable conversation reflected back to them during every minute of a flight delay?
Here’s What Lena Dunham Had a Fit About This Time
Hearing this conversation, Dunham wrote, was the “worst part” of her night.
This is the conversation Dunham alleges she heard. They were “talking about how trans kids are a trend they’d never accept a trans child and transness is gross.”
“Transness is gross” sounds like a very Dunham-esque construction, so perhaps this is just her paraphrasing of the conversation, in which case I’d like to have a better understanding of what these people actually said. It is unclear, and ABC News notes in its reporting, “Dunham’s Instagram Story appears to have shown the actress later on a Delta Air Lines flight, which operates out of a different terminal than American Airlines.” It wouldn’t be the first time hazy, unverifiable accusations from Dunham had messed with someone’s life before falling apart on examination.
Also unclear for now, thank goodness, are the identities of the attendants she targeted with her online crusade against oldspeak.
American Airlines released this statement in an attempt to appease this piece of walking performance art and her followers and assure all of us it does not condone thoughtcrime in its ranks and greatly appreciates the efforts of Citizen Dunham to root it out.
“From the team members we hire to the customers we serve, inclusion and diversity is a way of life at American Airlines. Every day, our team members work to make American a place where people of all generations, races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religious affiliations and backgrounds feel welcome and valued.”
Dunham, who claims she was animated by a desire for “love and inclusivity,” could have actually spoken to the flight attendants in question, but she did not. There are so many things that are creepy about this. The initial eavesdropping, the immediate appeal to authority, the desire to threaten livelihoods over snippets of conversation for which one has no context.
Then there’s the ever-present Dunham show. Not only does she want to be a minder of her fellow citizens, she wants everyone to know she’s a proud minder of her fellow citizens and she wants to recruit more minders. The message is clear: Someone is watching you and you’ll pay for being out of line.
Don’t join her.
Nobody Likes the Thought Police
This is the sinister side of the liberal “hamburger problem” Josh Barro wrote about. His thesis is Democrats could win a lot more elections if they stop insufferably hectoring everyone about everything— for instance, insisting eating a hamburger is an inherently political act because of the public health consequences and the carbon footprint and the blah, blah, blah. He’s probably right about that, but many liberals go far beyond hectoring (a subject I covered in depth in my book, “End of Discussion,” which is out in paperback this week, by the way!).
In the worst cases, they equate speech that offends them with violence and decide violence is therefore necessary and righteous to oppose it, as on Middlebury’s or Berkeley’s campuses.
Dunham isn’t content to publicly lecture about trans issues. She wants to punish people who disagree with her, going after their jobs without so much as a conversation with them, and she expects to be thanked and honored for her good works.
On the trans issue, in particular, the expectations of liberal activists are ridiculous. The concept is a fairly new one to many Americans, and one that upends a fundamental understanding of human life as made up of biological men and women that up until a couple years ago was the perfectly acceptable understanding of human life. The approved way of talking about this issue changes seemingly weekly, and one is supposed to arrive at the approved thoughts and words about a complex and confusing issue without ever uttering anything deemed transgressive or transphobic by the likes of Lena Dunham on the way there. This is an unreasonable standard.
And that’s just if you agree with everything liberal activists want you to. God help you if you don’t. Never mind that the target is so swiftly moving, I would not be at all surprised if you could find prose in Dunham’s 2014 memoir, “Not That Kind of Girl,” that someone would call transphobic. That was eons ago in social-justice-warrior years.
As she is wont to do, Dunham reflected on this experience publicly.
“For those who followed my airport saga yesterday, here’s my takeaway: these days it’s the little things. A smile. Offering a seat. Respect,” she wrote.
The little things, like having a conversation with a coworker on a break without a super-rich bully trying to get you fired.