Dear Miss Mannerly:
I wish to remain anonymous, but just to give you some background, I am the powerful chief executive of a HUUUUGE entity (and no, I don’t mean Google). This year, I received an invitation to speak at a prestigious venue, just as the person in my job traditionally does every year (in fact, I did so last year, and it turned out quite well, if I do say so.) But due to an unrelated dispute, the person who invited me this year –-- different person from last year, not a nice person!! –- has now dis-invited me. To my knowledge, this has never, ever happened before. Since she had already invited me, I wasn’t sure how to respond.
I wrote back with what I thought was a very polite letter. This is it…
She responded with a letter that said the event in question will be postponed until I give in to her on the unrelated dispute. This is something I simply cannot do, as I promised millions and millions of people that I would stand firm on the underlying issue. To give in to her would be to dishonor that promise and violate the trust I have with all those people. But I would also like to avoid a faux pas, as I am often accused of behaving in a less than gentlemanly fashion, though I can’t understand why. Sad!!! What to do?
It is your host who has committed the faux pas, and quite a serious one. As she had invited you to speak at the event this year, and as it traditionally occurs every year at this time, you had every expectation that you would be be attending. In fact, for an event of this nature, you and your staff no doubt had, in turn, invited family and some honored guests, who also have made plans to attend. To cancel the event at this late date because of a separate unresolved issue is unconscionable.
You have several options. If someone else has offered to host an alternate event at another location, you may kindly accept their offer to speak. Be sure to formally advise all your invited guests of the change of time and place, and apologize in writing for the inconvenience. If there is another, more official venue that would be appropriate for your speech, you may arrange to give your speech there and, again, advise your guests of the change.
If you desire, you may give your speech from another location of your choosing, such as your office, and use the media to relay it to the “millions and millions” of people who want to hear it. It would be thoughtful to include your guests and introduce them personally, just as you had planned. I’m sure someone of your stature would have a very nice office, so the event would be a delightful experience for all attending. A light buffet would be nice; nothing fancy, but no plastic or cardboard containers, please.
Or you may choose to forego the event entirely and simply distribute your speech by letter this year. However, Miss Mannerly hopes you will fulfill your promise to deliver your speech live.
As long as your ex-host is going to behave with such disregard and passive-aggressiveness, there is no need for you to respond or justify your actions to her. Just continue doing what you feel you need to do to carry out your own obligations and let her, as they say, “stew in her own juice.”
Dear Miss Mannerly:
I am a 15-year-old high school student who seems to have made a lot of people angry, but I don’t know what I did. I was at a large rally with my classmates for a cause we support, and suddenly we were verbally attacked by a group of protesters, who used racial slurs and said other terrible things about us. They don’t even know us! I doubt that you have ever heard such language, Miss Mannerly.
I think it started because of the red hats some of us were wearing, which said, “Make America Great Again.” That seemed okay to me.
Anyway, when things got really intense, an old Native American man walked up to me while beating his drum and chanting. It was really weird, and I didn’t know how to react. I guess I could have walked away, but what if he saw that as disrespectful? The only thing I could think of to do was stand there, smiling in friendship and not speaking, while he chanted. So that’s what I did.
Later, I found out that millions of people had seen a video of just that last part --- not the part where we got attacked, but the drumming part --- and they thought we had accosted the man and that I was smirking at him. I really wasn’t, but people see what they want to see, you know? Some of my classmates kind of made fun, but you know, we’re just 15 and kind of jerks sometimes. And I wasn’t! It turns out the old man said some things that weren't true. Now it’s weird, with a lot of people wanting to talk to me, and others saying I shouldn’t be allowed to talk at all. People have been saying my friends and I, and even our parents, should be tortured and killed.
One interviewer asked me if there was anything I need to apologize for. That really threw me. What did I do wrong? Miss Mannerly, how do I deal with this, and how should I behave in the future?
First, let it be known that Miss Mannerly has heard all the language of which you speak, as it can hardly be helped, though she tries to avoid it by staying away from rap music, hip-hop music, social media, magazine interviews with leftists (and they always are), modern literature, modern plays, college campuses, cable TV, comedy clubs (except on “Christian night”), and all movies made since 1963, especially action movies, mobster movies and anything set in New Jersey or directed by Spike Lee.
Moving on...it seems to Miss Mannerly that your behavior has been exemplary. When you were attacked verbally, you did not respond in kind; when you were confronted by someone who confused you; you maintained composure and simply occupied your space. Miss Mannerly cannot fault your response, only the mistaken interpretation others had of your facial expression. That says more about them than it does about you.
These people are doing something called "virtue signaling." They shame you to make others to think they're "woke" about social justice issues. They are not "woke," just wacko. And they do you a profound injustice.
It appears that some want you to apologize for wearing the “MAGA” hat, as that appears to have sparked the initial verbal attack against you. Please pardon Miss Mannerly for using such a crude analogy, but that is like telling the victim of sexual assault that she asked for it because she was wearing a short skirt. You have a First Amendment right to wear that hat. Wear it proudly.
And though it may not seem so right now, remember that kindness and good manners will serve you well in life. (As Miss Mannerly likes to say, Make America Polite Again!) You have nothing to apologize for.