Thoughts on identity

I think we should all aspire to be gentlemen; except those of us who aspire to be ladies. It is not my business if someone should aspire to be something else, though I must say it gets confusing. It becomes actually disordering, the more he insists upon it.

What if there were some third category, of persons still to be identified as human? (As opposed to another, less elevated species.) He might aspire to be “working class,” or whatever; a class in which I’m inclined to place both wage-paying employers, and wage-paid employees; “salarymen” of all kinds. For whether the servants or slaves of money, in avarice and venality they are all much alike. But I have met gentlemen and ladies from this class, and others among the salt of the earth, earning their livings in lazy or unimaginative ways. So long as they are polite, I would let them be.

Some, however, are of the outré sort, whom I call “leftists.” I include in this category everyone who is beyond the pale. (By which I don’t mean An Pháil, because the plurality aren’t Irish.) Let us judge them as the London police used to do, back in the day when they were unarmed: taking note only of the tone of their voices, the looks on their faces, and the way they are dressed.

Generally, the policeman will have little to do with a lady, unless she is inconvenienced, or asks for directions. (Women are notoriously weak on space and time; but I’ve met some exceptions.) On the other hand, a man who has failed to be a gentleman will, and should, engage his attention. I would not arrest or beat him, however, simply for his demeanour; rather, for an ungentlemanly act. Only criminals need to be escorted to a gaol, when they are indiscreet about it. Or leftists, which is pretty much the same thing.

Should everyone, regardless of sex (illiterate people say “gender”), aspire to be white? Here I disagree with the cosmetic merchants. I have noticed, all my life so far as I remember, a nearly universal tendency to lighten the skin. (One thinks for instance of Joe Biden, flattering the younger Barack Obama on the lightness of his negritude.) Though contrarily, there are people who seem too white already, and may be looking for a suntan (more likely to turn their colour towards red). But I find dark-skinned people especially attractive; and I delight, too, in various other forms of physiognomic variety. I enjoy the beautiful, but also the grotesque.

So here, as in sex, I am the partisan of nature. Let the ladies, especially, eschew the cosmeticians, except for the little points of emphasis on which I am happy to allow them to indulge. Let people be, unselfconsciously, as they are. Or wear shoe polish over it, for all I care. (I draw the line at Justin Trudeau’s loud socks.)

Everyone is a racist, some sagacious person said; but among the polite, the racism should always be affectionate. For otherwise, it might become crass, and ill-tempered.

Nationality is quite a different issue. The issue is citizenship, and thus has nothing to do with race. This is something that binds us, across manifold divisions, that may include even language, as in Canada.

Need we pledge our allegiance to just one flag? As a monarchist, I’d prefer more diverse heraldic insignia, along with more sublime emblems of affiliation and hierarchy, but there you go. (Republics are so boring.) Each nation has its little eccentricities, for the citizens of other nations, whenever possible, to pretend to ignore. Of course, none of these should be aggressive; or worse, threatening. That’s why we have defensive alliances. But the individual “national” should be no trouble at all, provided that he is a gentleman or lady.

Lately, I have added the vexed matter of “transsexualism,” to my list of popular vexations (which include skateboarding, and basketball). Often I class the “trans” with other people who are unnecessarily assertive about their sex: such as “heterosexuals,” or “homosexuals.” Traditionally, it was not acceptable for anyone to make a “sexual preference” into a demand; for anything, really. This is an ungentlemanly and unladylike thing to do, like wearing a gas mask. Please give the civilized an opportunity to ignore you.

And please, give more consideration to the attributes with which you were born. None were in our power to decide. We are all God’s children, I am told; and should learn to behave, according to assignment. “A place for everyone, and everyone in his place,” as our polite ancestors instinctively understood.

And when we misbehave, let us forgive each other; even and especially, those we need to hang.