The concept of a ghetto has traditionally been one that implies the involuntary segregation of a poor or marginalised group into a less than desirable quarter of a city, often totally cut-off from the nicer parts of town.
Today though, in affluent western cities whether New York, Berlin, London, Toronto, San Francisco or Los Angeles, economically well-off individuals of the liberal mindset, tend to voluntarily wall themselves off in a psychological and spiritual ghetto. In this place, they are sheltered from the realities of the real world.
What would it be like for the non-initiated to spend a day with such people and try to enter their ‘secret world?
I give you, Sunday afternoon in the liberal ghetto.
Many liberal ghettos used to be actual slums but over the decades, loads of money have come in making the once ramshackle houses inhabitable for people who insist on owning refrigerators which cost more than the average working class monthly salary.
But don’t worry, the foodstuffs contained therein are generally the un-pronounceable in pursuit of the inedible. It is as if the consumption of tasteless, bland ‘health foods’ are a kind of liberal litmus test. If one can chew and swallow the stuff without feeling sick, one has secured the first step into being accepted into the liberal tribe.
Afternoons consist of trips to outdoor antiques markets where items that regular people have discarded decades ago are sold at astronomical prices. So long as the materials were made by the hand of a long dead 19th century proletarian, the craftsmanship is admired not for the exploitative conditions under which it was created, instead it is ‘cute and unique’, possibly even ‘cool’.
At this point, it is convenient for new converts to the liberal tribe to keep their mouth shut about the useless hand-cranked typewriter being thoroughly disinfected with a non-sustainable cleaning agent made in Taiwan. One wouldn’t want little Johnny to vicariously catch a bout of gout, after-all. Even the knowledge of long latent 19th century diseases could hurt his self-esteem. He’d need hours of yoga just to get it out of his system.
The trip to the antiques shop is often cut short to make room for a journey to a matinee of the latest interpretive dance performance. It is set to ‘music’ that sounds like televisions used to do when the signal wasn’t clear. Don’t let on that you prefer the sounds of Tchaikovsky or Beethoven to that of a broken piece of electric equipment. That music is ‘old fashioned‘ and ‘counter-revolutionary’.
The production was the brainchild of someone that few people in the real world have heard of, but if you want your day pass to the liberal ghetto, you ought to pretend that his previous work really ‘moved you’. Extra points for those who mention who trilled you were to read the recent review of said performance in the Washington Post, Guardian or better yet The New Yorker.
Once the performance begins…and I can’t stress this enough, you must not laugh. The temptation will be there, but you cannot do so or else you will be shunned and ridiculed for years to come. At this point in our journey, it is necessary to remind you that no jokes are allowed. Liberalism and humour simply do not mix.
No matter how many grotesque sounds are emitted from the stage, no matter how many ugly people take off their clothes and now matter how absurd the inevitable ‘poetry section’ is, you cannot laugh. Hold it in and let it out during one of the three intermissions, when you can excuse yourself to get fresh air and instead have your very un-liberal but much deserved cigarette.
You may get your own laugh when you decide to take your hosts up on the offer to relax in a local ‘gastro-pub’. Your hosts are expecting craft-beers, over priced wines and bar snacks that no one who frequents actual bars has ever heard of. They expect mild mannered conversations about the latest bland and boring art exhibitions or worse yet where the children plan to go on their twice annual third world holiday outside of the glorious liberal ghetto.
This is when you get your revenge. Listen carefully for the sounds of cheering that have a direct relationship to the scores on a televised football game. If any of your hosts feel a bit ill at ease with the uproarious cheers in the distance, just explain to them that it is a multi-cultural tribal chant that some obscure documentary film maker who they frequently dine with, has made a feature about. It recently screened at a cinema where popcorn is replaced by quiche, meaning all films screened there are instantly considered moving works of art…even the ones starring Leonardo Dicaprio.
Once in the pub, the expressions on your hosts faces will instantly transform to looks of shock. The sight of seeing normal people drinking normal beers, watching a normal bit of football will be deeply unnerving for them.
Not wanting to ‘make a scene’, they will approach the bar, ask for a glass of Chablis and a deconstructed, goat cheese and kale souffle that is gluten free and vegan friendly.
When presented with a pint of standard lager and a bowl of chips, your revenge is officially complete.
You’ve probably blown your chance to be invited back to the liberal ghetto, but in exposing the hypocrisy of the ‘tolerance brigade’, you’ll have your own lifetime pass to a place far more satisfying than the liberal ghetto.
It’s called the real world.
No amount of donations to fake charities, no about of regurgitation of fake news and no amount of health food can change the fact that people who have isolated themselves from the real world, are permanently out of touch.
The fact that such people derive a perverse pleasure in thinking that they are morally superior to others because of their obscure lifestyles, is simply annoying and occasionally odious.
The truth is a beautiful thing, it is also an ugly thing, at times it is an uncomfortable thing, but it is a real thing.
Thinking that one can ghettoise oneself to make the world go away is not just foolish, it is dishonest. Everyone can have their hobbies, liberal or otherwise. But it is wrong to elevate a hobby to the position of moral superiority. It isn’t, it’s just a hobby and one that I personally find less rewarding than having a cheap pint of beer during the football game.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.