The Trouble with Turtles

A few years ago I was driving a rural road and in the sweep of a turn came upon a turtle that looked the size of a sheep dog lumbering serenely along the middle lines. Acting with prompt imbecility, I parked on the shoulder and sprinted out with the intent of spiriting the great beast across before it could send a semi careening into the ditch. Well, on the off-chance you’ve never moved an infuriated 60lb snapping turtle, I’ll just say from experience it’s a chore better left to truck bumpers. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what came to a screaming stop in the curve just feet away from one highly agitated animal and its human rickshaw. The other driver could hardly register what he was seeing. Grateful that my brain matter wasn’t now enjoying the sunlight, I sheepishly waddled my cargo the last few feet as it enthusiastically attempted to relieve me of a finger. Finally we reached grassy sanctuary and parted with a fulsome “fuck you.”

You would think after this I felt quite foolish. As if the material risk of orphaning my children wasn’t adequate exchange for the feel-goods of highway conservation. And you’d be right. Though by the time of arriving home I had completely forgotten about checking mortician ratings on Yelp, and was feeling quite a smug satisafaction. Good had been done.

To a puzzled wife I inquired, Did YOU save a resentful reptile today? I didn’t think so. Now stop thinking only of yourself and come freshen my drink, s’il vous plait.

All of which may or may not hold any relevance to the brief observation that follows.

There is a perpetual yearning for redemption in the Western soul. And any ambitious dissident movement must contemplate its effects and how to reproduce the frisson that even solitary Acts of Goodness evoke. This need to cosmically do good–while sneering at those ostensibly doing less so–is one many alt-righters are probably too prone to dismiss for its eye-rolling vanity. Though it also exists in forms purer than just as a means of status-signaling. For millions, it is entirely gratuitous.

Feeding Africans is a good. Inviting a bedraggled third-world into your delicate ecosystem is a good. As is slaying dragons outside the country and nurturing those within it. For a great many, the value of good-doing lies completely outside its results. A distinction that in many ways forms the contour between a liberal mind, and one of bigotry, ignorance, and hatred. Or alternatively, one where virtue overlaps with utility and altruism lives close to home.

And it is that concluding sentence which will inform future Western morality…or the turtles will all come home to roost.

14 thoughts on “The Trouble with Turtles

  1. I’m sorry – are you suggesting that Alt-Righters spend their Saturdays saving turtles?

    Perhaps you could provide a few non-turtle-related examples of how Alt-Righters in particular should status-signal, er … do-good.

  2. The most charitable thing I’ve ever done for ungrateful turtles is to never donate a penny of money to international turtle charities that try saving them. This only results in massive turtle population explosions and the need for turtles to escape their ponds and try coming over into mine.

  3. The proper thing to do is to set up a turtle-saving charity that your slender blonde wife can use to throw tax-free black-tie charity socials at your local country club. If she’s wise, 99% of the funds collected will be used for her black evening gown, catering, a live band and a hosted bar. This is called “telescopic philanthropy” and it works wonders by improving social cohesion at home and keeps the problem where it belongs.

  4. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2015/09/27) | The Reactivity Place

  5. Watch it, Porter – reptile lives matter only if you don’t have to risk yours while saving them. If the worst were to happen, I don’t think any of us would make the connection between the death of a gentleman escorting a turtle across the road and the abrupt cessation of the Kakistocracy blog.

  6. Thanks. I’m just catching up on a month or two of your invective that I missed and enjoying the additions to the banner-pic horror-show.

  7. Turning altruism inward, toward clan and away from the other, with same emotional payoff may be the central challenge of our movement. I don’t know if such an adjustment can be made without massive, individual, personally relatable, suffering. I hope it can.

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