The American Grievance League
by
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Politics is often said to be a sport — indeed, a bloodsport. But what if it were an actual sport, you know, with teams and coaches and players? Or, more specifically, what if it were football?

In such a world we would have two leagues, the Conservative League and the Grievance League.

The Conservative League is composed of three teams: loyal backers of President Trump, frequently called “Trumpists”; calcified opponents of the president called “Never Trumpers”; and elected officials who want to emerge from the Trump presidency with the keys to their government offices still jingling in their pockets; these latter are the “Long-Game Republicans.” But in a year’s time, or, hopefully, five years’ time, they’ll all be “After Trumpers,” and all teams in the Conservative League will be able to return to the safe space of their long-practiced complaisance.

The other league is where the action is. The Grievance League numbers four teams: the Solids, the Grrls, the Pride, and the Dysphorics. All teams in this league hold certain characteristics in common: they have no sense of fair play; they are hypersensitive to any perceived disrespect from opponents or fans; they employ lots of shouting, shrieking, screaming, whining, and name-calling during their games; they possess very little sense of irony and no sense of humor; and they have an irrepressible capacity to hate their opponents.

The Solids

The foremost team in the league is the Solids, the civil-rights blacks. A founding member, the Solids are the Decatur Staleys of the Grievance League. Their history is long and glorious, with countless victories and many league championships.

Team unity is very strong on the Solids, and team members hardly any ever criticize the team, or even each other. Also, very few ever leave the team, and those who do are shunned by the organization and its fans. They are like the player who jumps for more money to another franchise and gets booed every time he plays his former team.

The offense they run goes by the name “white supremacy”; it is an ingenious system, and far more advanced than other offenses in the league. It is tantamount to the T-formation when the rest of the league still runs the single wing.

Its strength is its malleability; it is adaptable to any opponent. Back in the early days of the league, the opponents they called “white supremacists” were bona fide racists — Klansmen, skinheads, neo-Nazis, southern Democrat politicians: crackpots who believed the color of their skin actually made them superior. Even these racists copped to the label, and proudly so. Now, a “white supremacist” is anybody — and everybody — who’s white, who is an “acquiescent beneficiary of the inherent advantages and perquisites of a social system that automatically redound to members of the predominant race,” as the team’s media guide puts it.

It is no surprise, therefore, that the Solids always run the same play — the race play. They run it for a good reason: it always works. Certainly, the basic play has myriad options, and the Solids have a propensity to call audibles. For example, they call Mercator Projection maps racist. Standardized tests are racist. The hand gesture for “OK,” the forefinger circling with the thumb and the three other fingers sticking up, is racist. The bowl cut, worn by Dylann Roof (and by Moe of the Three Stooges), is racist because, well, Dylann Roof is racist (the jury is still out on Moe). Suburbs are racist. We are in Conspiracy Brother of Undercover Brother territory here, people, but still, opponents have a tough time defending these plays.

They frequently return to olden times for their plays. Like Chicagoans remembering the 1985 Bears, the Solids are forever invoking 1955 Mississippi. But the memories are not so pleasant. At every racial imbroglio, however minor, we are returned to the days of Emmett Till and racist cops. All interracial progress in the intervening decades is discounted, and the epithets from the firehose and Doberman days are resurrected from the old playbook and sent into the huddle.

The effect this has on their opponents is profound, especially in interleague play. They have the unparalleled power to render their opponents mute and defeated. When you’re playing the Solids, you punt on third down, kneel down to end games in which you are behind by but a field goal, and otherwise schlump about your sideline, heads bowed, lamenting the evil of your lineage and the “white privilege” into which you were born.

The Solids are also granted an unlimited number of challenges of officials’ decisions, which perk they take full advantage of. When they toss out the red challenge flag, not only do they invariably win the challenge but frequently the referee doesn’t even put on his earphones and slip his head under the hood. He has reversed the call before the red flag hits the turf.

The Grrls

Second in longevity, a franchise from way back, the Grrls have been playing since the 1840s but gained entry into the league only in the early 1960s when activists bought the team.

They are the franchise that keeps moving, the Chicago–St. Louis–Arizona Cardinals, the Cleveland–Los Angeles–St. Louis–Los Angeles Rams, while retaining die-hard fans in each abandoned city.

Only their moves have not been geographical but ideological. The Sashers, as they were first known, led by innovative coaches like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were locked into gaining voting rights, among other causes, while living peaceably in domestic homes with husbands. In the 1960s the franchise changed its name (to the Libbers) and its attitude: it grew feisty in alleging discrimination and championing social equality and denying the “beauty standard,” and pushed the idea that women and men were not different in any way, and to prove it they started growing hair on their legs and paying for the man on dates. In the 1990s a new GM was hired, and a new name adopted (the Grrls), and the franchise swapped out the angry, anti-man, hairy-legged pose for a still-angry but happy-to-be-beautiful position. The team is versatile — they run a lot of plays out of a lot of formations. Grrls can be into makeup and high heels and displaying their feminine allures or they can don “pussy” hats and make “angry-woman” speeches. They are tough to defend against.

They win a lot of games. There are more women than men in college these days; more women than men earning bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. They practically run the education business. And they have a home-town press that is the envy of the league. Unless they’re being castigated or lampooned for it, women are never loving, supportive wives in television or the movies — they’re always doctors, scientists, psychologists, academics, or plain old kick-ass meanies — and they rule unopposed in TV commercials. Hardly ever are they stay-at-home moms, or even romantic-type women, lionized by the company press.

But the road to the championship has its hurdles. Grrls lose to the Solids regularly (as does everybody else), and have been encountering trouble defeating the Dysphorics of late. Feminists have always complained about men running the world and their lives, demeaning them, relegating them to second-class citizenry, and just when they start getting their legs under them (shaved or unshaved), here come men again to run their lives — to redefine what it is to be a woman, not to mention to pee right next to them in the ladies’ room — but this time it’s men who think they’re women. The Grrls did not see that coming.

Masterminds in the Grrls’ coaches’ room have drawn up an offense similar in its wide-ranging scope to the Solids’ “white supremacy” offense. It’s called “toxic masculinity,” and it attacks all males who think like males or act like males. Only sensitive, feelings-flowing, willing-weeper, Pajama-Boy Alan Alda wannabes escape castigation.

The Pride

The Pride have been around for millennia, but only as disorganized, minor-league groups kvetching about lack of respect. Their entry into the league came in 1968 — they rioted their way in. Going was tough for a few decades, but favorable referee calls (Lawrence v. Texas; Obergefell v. Hodges) and constant good press — they’re given loving treatment in myriad TV productions and movies — have solidified their standing in the Grievance League.

When they win, though, they love to run up the score. For example, Obergefell, in 2015, gave them marriage rights, and everybody thought they’d respond to it with at least a little sportsmanship — bask in the score briefly, maybe vamp a little in the endzone or run by the opposing bench spewing trash talk and leave it at that — settle back and enjoy their new rights, in other words. But no, the Pride ratcheted up their animus toward those who would merely tolerate gays but would not affirm them. They singled out a cake maker who wouldn’t bake a guy-guy cake because of religious conscience and sued him, even while scores of cake makers in the general vicinity would be happy to take their order. It was like going for two when you’re up by 45 points.

Plus, they’re cocky. They hold lots and lots of parades — even in years when they don’t win championships.

However, the rest of the league is on to them. The release-from-bondage play is better run by the Solids — the Emancipation Proclamation beats Stonewall, or even Obergefell, any day. Even the Dysphorics, although the new team in the league, outshout the Pride by a long way when they go head to head; they make the Pride’s “loud and proud” sound like the flute section in a marching band.

In essence, the Pride’s greatest strengths are in fact their weaknesses. In a league where grievance is king, where the justification for complaints is key to victory, the Pride are their own worst enemy. The fact that members of the Pride are affluent, well dressed, articulate, witty, and take care for their appearance attenuates their grievance cred. This guy dresses better than you and drives a better car and makes twice your salary, and you’re supposed to feel sorry for him? That doesn’t win many games in this league.

The Dysphorics

The newest team in the league, the Dysphorics hit the ground in full stride and have been ripping off yardage in phenomenal chunks ever since. Instantly upon entry they were vying for championships, and this with team goals that are nothing short of world-changing.

If they are successful, not only will they change the league, but they’ll alter the human race. Their grievance is binarism; it is an evil that must be defeated. That’s right, the division of mammalian life into two — yes, only two — sexes, one male, one female (stop me if I’m going too fast), each with sex-specific plumbing, which come together and produce progeny, which progeny then produce progeny, usque ad aeternum, is wrong and must be squarely defeated. You are not what your anatomy, and biology, says you are; you are what you think you are. And anyone who pushes against this deconstruction of sex, or offers even the most nugatory objection, is booed right off the field, and into the locker room, and into the parking lot, and to their home, and then onto Twitter, where they are tweet-stormed out of civil society.

Their offense is so innovative that other teams in the league are caught flat-footed when they come up to the line of scrimmage. Consider this: some trans women (that is, persons with male plumbing who fancy themselves women) are demanding that women — actual women, albeit lesbians — make themselves sexually available to trans women (these guys with penises). In other words, lesbian women should sleep with guys with penises who think they’re women. This is cray cray; it’s like Canadian football, with all those guys running toward the line of scrimmage at the snap. Gay men find this deconstruction of sex equally baffling: they like men, true, but it’s actual men they like, not women who think they’re men.

This offense, if it works, will sweep the Dysphorics straight to the top — through their league schedule, winning every game by blowout margins and holding their opponents scoreless to boot.

But there is hope for the rest of the league. The Dysphorics, like certain NFL teams, may be one of those units that starts fast but fades late. They’re really wrapped up in little battles. The only time they make the news is when boys want to pee with girls or boys want to fight against or run against or swim against or race bicycles against girls, or enter beauty contests and compete against girls, or if somebody doesn’t call one of them by his/her/xer/zer/their favored pronoun. This is weak sauce, and it might take down some teams in the league for a while, but once common sense and reality kick in, things may even out. The rest of the league, and the fans of the league, seem pretty much committed to thinking of men being actual men and women being actual women.

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That’s the Grievance League, four teams at present but always with room for more. The league is always ripe for expansion, and many are the groups vying for entry. When games are won, and political gains are made, by rallying around some slight, perceived or real, handed out by life and then complaining unceasingly about the unfairness of it all, there will be no scarcity of applicants.

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