Putting the merits to one side, there is something rather totalitarian about the injunction to hijack a ceremonial meal and read talking points prepared by partisans of the state. One does not have to be a right-winger to acknowledge this. For now, the concoction of turkey-time propaganda is a primarily left-wing pursuit. But it will not always be thus. If, as is possible, the Republican party is given another chance to usher in some meaningful national reforms, conservatives too will be tempted to inject politics where it does not belong. They should steadfastly abstain from doing so.

Why? Well, because a civil society that craves uniformity is no civil society at all. At the root of our newfound “destroy your cousins!” approach is a rank and unhealthy insecurity: specifically (to adapt a line from Mencken), the fear that someone, somewhere might be taking positions of which you disapprove — and, even worse, that they might be right.

Normal human beings take disagreement in their stride. Confident and knowledgeable people can talk in detail without the need for prepared scripts and prescriptive flowcharts. The truly open-minded do not panic when confronted with the prospect of dissent. Do you know who does? Zealots, that’s who. Automatons. Incompetent missionaries, whose sole aim is to export their presumptions around the world without ever learning a thing about their charges.