As another Thanksgiving brings America its exclusively annual taste of cranberry sauce often shaped like a can, that unidentifiable casserole with crunchy onions replete with a mini-marshmallow topping, and the inevitable scourge of tryptophan-induced afternoon comas; it’s time to address a few words to ‘The Ungrateful’. These are entitled, privileged MAGA cap-wearing folks who spew hate year-round, but suddenly care about the rest of humanity during the holidays. They are not thankful, they are consumed with self-interest and bitterness.

These are the people who think that refugees fleeing conflict zones are sub-human. That access to affordable healthcare is just a handout. That wealth disparity occurs because most people are somehow lazy. They ignore climate change as the evidence becomes insurmountable and deadly. 

They are ‘The Ungrateful’ because they truly believe that civil and human rights and equal opportunity are like a holiday pie- if someone else gets a piece, then there’s less pie to go around. They’re not happy with their own slice because they’re mad as hell that someone else may get a piece. Unfortunately, they refuse to realize that there’s more than enough pie for absolutely everyone.

The Ungrateful spend their time talking about American exceptionalism and greatness, but cynically denigrate its institutions, values, and norms. They celebrate chants of “Bullshit” at a presidential campaign rally because they feel that they have found a savior who speaks to their deepest fears and insecurities. ‘The Ungrateful’ forget the blood that was spilled for our rights and the tortured history that actually made America great.

They hate the government. They hate taxes of any kind. They hate the poor and people who don’t look or act like them. They really hate programs that help people move up the economic ladder. They hate the idea of gay marriage or the idea that religious freedom means people can have non-Christian ideas. They now think that there’s actually a war against Thanksgiving as they try to figure out why the president just tweeted a pic of his face on Rocky’s body. 

So, it’s time to get past the canned cranberries and the mysterious casseroles to discuss the fact that many Americans are deliberately ungrateful because they are angry that they’ve been systematically cut from achieving the promises of The American Dream. They refuse to look at the real root causes and have pinned their hopes on a vulgarian grifter. 

In Alabama, we see it when folks like AL State Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) absurdly argues against prison sentencing reform in the face of overwhelming and indisputable evidence. We see it in almost every prejudiced and bizarre utterance from US Rep. Mo Brooks regarding immigrants. ‘The Ungrateful’ are full of delusional grievances and imagined persecutions.

We are at an existential turning point in our history. We can choose the path of self-serving ingratitude or we can choose to recognize and address the challenges before us. Genuine gratitude recognizes our wonderful and troubled history and the struggles that have slowly, but assuredly, made our nation an increasingly ‘more perfect union’. The path of ‘The Ungrateful’ seeks to abandon our progress and to build more walls that increasingly divide us.

It’s time to remember gratitude. It’s time to be thankful for the wisdom of our Founding Fathers that created a country ruled by law and not a monarch. It’s time to be grateful for checks and balances. Most importantly, it’s time to remember that the promise of America extends to all of its citizens, even the ones who don’t fall within the mainstream.

‘The Ungrateful’ are free to focus on what divides us. Chanting “Bullsh*t” speaks for itself.

For those of us who embrace the transcendent idea of Thanksgiving, it’s time to remember what unites us and why we should give thanks. It’s time to love our country and our government again. It’s time to be thankful for its promise to all of us.

Clete Wetli
Clete Wetli is former Chair of the Madison County Democrats and a liberal political activist.