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Tea Spots and Forced Empathy


While I’m sure it exists, it’s hard to imagine a more petulant, childish reaction to “Black Lives Matter.”

There are lots of reasons to mock this piece, but my favorite one–besides the obvious “tea spot” talk– is the over-arching theme of the idea he’s a tough city guy who’s seen it all. One would think that had he truly seen it all he wouldn’t take his ball and go home because some words were painted on the asphalt in front of him.

That’s why, when DC’s Mayor Bowser spray painted “Black Lives Matter” in front of my tea spot, I knew I was done. Not because of the issue itself or the cause (remember I don’t really care) but because through her actions, Browser effectively mandatedempathy. This was government-sanctioned compassion. The mayor used taxpayer dollars—the one’s I’ve forked over for years—to force her beliefs on me. And, just like that, the pact was broken.

But, back to that tea spot…

I used to go for afternoon tea at the St. Regis Hotel on 16th Street; it’s now been renamed to “Black Lives Matter Plaza.” Tea was expensive, excessive, and extremely elegant served impeccably in a magnificent room to properly attired patrons who politely spoke in hushed tones, a little taste of a bygone era when etiquette and formality were still appreciated.

In fairness, it is illegal to drink tea now that black lives matter, but that seems like a small price to pay for such a monumental achievement.

One thing that struck me while reading this upper-Crust Cartman exhortation is that the author has such an insulated view of city life. It’ an extremely privileged way to look at urban living. In his world, DC is a city where low-wage workers and food service workers scurry about silently in the background while he “contributes” to DC, taking nothing in return. Sure, this shows a breathtaking ignorance about how taxes work, but beyond that it’s just offensively oblivious to the lives of people who make cities run (and who may want to enjoy its amenities, too, from time to time!) A thought that never occurs to him is that black lives may matter to those people. And that those people, indeed, inhabit the same city he does.

The protesters may think this is their moment, but there is a deep, dark secret that will crush every disaffected group now demanding “justice” or “awareness” is this: city people really don’t care. We have an amazing, almost unparalleled ability, to be indifferent.

Real city people have no bandwidth to lay down dead in the street or start fires as part of a “protest.” Look at our day: after our miserable commute to work, we have long days in the office, followed by happy hour, client dinners, drinks, maybe a fundraiser or two or having cigars at Shelly’s—and that doesn’t include going to the gym, picking up dry cleaning, seeing our actual friends or spouse, and that miserable commute back home. Quite honestly, we don’t have time for your cause—of which there are so many, so very many causes, so much so that even a city as liberal DC just does not care.

Gay? Black? Trans? No offense, but, so what? We are city people: we have seen it all—literally, all—our entire lives. You are our neighbors, our friends, the president of our HOAs, our coworkers. The great beauty of the city is that we come from all walks of life and we get along. We accomplish this by leaving each other alone.

“Real city people don’t have time for empathy” is certainly an argument he is free to make (even in DC!), but perhaps it is for the best he take that message to the exurbs, because I sure as shit don’t want him in Fairfax.

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