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Ruthless Thanksgiving this year with politics as side dish
Thanksgiving will be under more pressure this year in dining rooms across America if Facebook is any indicator of how Americans feel. The politics of the recent presidential election campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will have an impact, according to recent polls. Here’s my look at the annual food festival, American heritage commemoration and expected conflicts from my seat at the head of the table
Published in the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News, the Reporter Newspapers, Illinois News Network, Thursday Nov. 24, 2016.
By Ray Hanania
A recent survey of more than 1,000 Americans conducted by Meyocks Benkstein Associates in Iowa said more than half of the respondents said they expect the presidential elections and politics to be a concern this Thanksgiving.
It’s all about Donald Trump defeating Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 presidential elections. More than in any other election, the post-election animosity has reached record levels. (Clinton supporters were so convinced she would win, they just can’t get over it.)
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Nearly 30 percent of survey respondents said politics should be off-limits or will be avoided at their Thanksgiving table. But, 25 percent said they expect the Trump-Clinton election will be on the menu.
This presidential election has split families, torn apart long-standing friendships, created flame wars on social media, and sparked angry and hateful rhetoric that, in some cases, has resulted in physical violence.
It’s one of the most vicious and contentious post-elections I have ever witnessed. The level of animosity between the two sides is unprecedented.
Families can’t watch TV, go to movies or the stage and theater, or even engage in normal discussions on social media without finding ourselves in the middle of the post election Trump-Clinton rage.
Most Americans will never see “Hamilton”
because the tickets are more expensive than ObamaCare.
Fortunately, Thanksgiving is on a Thursday, not on Saturday night when one of my formerly favorite TV shows is on the air. I used to enjoy “Saturday Night Live,” but lately SNL has been consumed in political strife.
Honestly, when I watch Alec Baldwin impersonate Trump, I don’t find it funny at all. It’s vicious and hateful. All I can remember about Baldwin is the time he unleashed a hate-filled, foul-mouthed rage against his daughter in a telephone message back in 2007.
Last week, the choice of 61.2 million Americans for vice president, Mike Pence, was lectured by the lead actor in the Broadway play “Hamilton” at the Richard Rogers Theater in New York.
Most Americans will never see “Hamilton” because the tickets are more expensive than ObamaCare. Even if you could pay $1,500 to get a pair, most Americans couldn’t because they don’t have the clout.
“Hamilton” is being enjoyed by the very elitist insiders that most Americans voted against. I’m surprised Pence was in the audience.
And my Facebook Page is a war zone. The Trump-Clinton war has surpassed the anger, animosity and name calling that usually surrounds a discussion on the Arab-Israeli conflict, which is my normal backyard.
More than 75 people who were my “Friends” on Facebook “unFriended” me because they didn’t like the fact that I predicted that Trump would easily defeat Clinton. I remember the weeks of ridicule and incredulity I received prior to the election because so many Clinton backers had deluded themselves into believing the biased media assertions that favored Clinton over Trump. And 75 others “Friended” me to take their place.
OK, when you have 4,444 “Friends,” you know they’re not “friends” at all, but followers, lurkers and people looking for a fight.
Normally, I am always on edge about Thanksgiving because I am Palestinian Arab, as many of you already know, and, my wife and son are Jewish.
We already battle at Thanksgiving dinners over the food, like the salad. My wife Alison always asks my son Aaron to have me pass the “Israeli salad.” I respond hysterically that we don’t have “Israeli salad,” but I would gladly share the “Arab East Jerusalem salad.”
That’s usually when the hummus starts flying over the Turkey at our Thanksgiving table.
Don’t even bring up the issue of “immigration.” That would start an even bigger war, especially if you happen to be Native American. After all, immigrants from Europe (called pilgrims) didn’t hesitate to take this country from their generous Native American hosts, when they could.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and political columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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