Let’s Make a Virtue of Resilience

From time to time here at YSDA we consider creating a new weekly feature which would be called something like Oh, For Cryin’ Out Loud.

In OFCOL we’d highlight the inanity of the week. Michael Gableman alone could provide fodder nonstop. The only challenge would be to decide which of Gableman’s stupid moves and dumb comments to write about. Even on a blog, where there is no word limit, there’s only so much people are willing to read before they’ve got to take the dog for a walk or wash the dishes.

For example, last week it was revealed that Gableman was evaluating the partisan leanings of election workers based on their appearance. He noted that a woman in Milwaukee wore a nose ring and sometimes colored her hair. Obviously, he concluded, she was a Democrat. Taxpayers — you and I, friends — are going to wind up paying this guy about $700,000 to do stuff like this.

“I am so over Michael Gableman. He’s not right,” said state Sen. Kathy Bernier, a Lake Hallie Republican who leads the Senate Elections Committee. “I can speculate as to why he didn’t run for Supreme Court again (in 2018) and the speculation would be he’s incompetent, in my opinion,” she said. “You would never see that in a real investigator, that they go on to speculate on things. They deal with facts. He is an absolute joke.”

Thank you, Sen. Bernier. I like to think you would join us in hardy chorus of, Oh, for cryin’ out loud.

But, we’re nothing if not fair here at YSDA, so let’s not let the left off the hook. Last week the Wisconsin State Journal reported a story that deserves the OFCOL treatment.

Here’s what happened. An artist named Lilada Gee was commissioned to paint a mural for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. She was hard at work on her project one day when she needed more art supplies. So, she left the building, which is part of Overture, to get them. When she returned she tried to reenter the building through a door normally closed to the public. A security guard confronted her and the guard may have been a little over zealous in doing her job. She is reported to have said, “You can’t come in here!” Not exactly abusive language. She is not reported to have said anything that was off color or racist, but I suppose she could have been nicer about it.

Anyway, the MMOCA coordinator involved with the project intervened and the artist was free to get back to work. But she didn’t. She was “traumatized.” And even now, months later, the whole thing is still “triggering” apparently for both Gee and for the MMOCA worker. Gee never completed the mural — work she was presumably contractually obligated to do, though that’s not made clear in the story.

At this point you might join me in a chorus of Oh for cryin out loud, except that it gets worse. The security guard was fired and the whole staff was forced to undergo still more diversity training. Training which, by the way, may not do much good. A word that is all the rage on the left these days is “kindness.” So, what’s kind about forcing a security guard to lose her job just for doing her job, albeit with perhaps a little more gusto than was warranted by circumstances?

The artist won’t even talk with Overture officials except through her representative, who turns out to be her brother, the Rev. Alex Gee, a widely respected local public figure. (Alex Gee had no comment for the State Journal story.) So, assuming there was a contract, is MMOCA suing her for not completing the work? Failing that, are they requiring her to remove her incomplete mural? Nope. They’re leaving it in its unfinished state so that it now stands as a way to foster community discussion about victimhood, as if we needed more of that.

Ok. Now we can all say it. Oh, for cryin’ out loud.

Here’s what we need in Madison and everywhere in this country. We need to stop encouraging this kind of behavior — both Gableman’s and Gee’s. If you’re an incompetent fool, like Gableman, you shouldn’t be paid a dime by the taxpayers much less be rewarded with any credibility at all.

And if you found yourself in the position that Gee found herself in, you’d understand that the confrontation with the security guard was just a misunderstanding and accept an apology, if one seemed necessary. Then you’d get back to work and finish the project you promised to do.

We live in a society that is rewarding all the wrong human traits: touchiness and a sense of victimhood in the case of Gee, incompetence and quickness to judge without evidence in the case of Gableman.

What we need to do is encourage the better human traits of resilience, reasonableness, competence and understanding.

And on another matter… I made myself a French omelet this morning to celebrate the victory of centrist French President Emmanuel Macron over hard-right populist Marine Le Pen. Macron crushed Le Pen, 58% to 42%. It got less attention, but pro-democracy centrists also scored a convincing victory in Slovenia where they now appear poised to take back the government from another party led by hard-right populists. Let’s hope that this is the start of a retreat of populism — both hard left and right all over the world.

Want to read more curiously conservative views from a liberal? Pick up a copy of Light Blue: How center-left moderates can build an enduring Democratic majority.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

6 thoughts on “Let’s Make a Virtue of Resilience

  1. When I read this story, I immediately thought that the terminated employee will sue and MMoCA (or its insurance company) will pay her. How about a suspension, apology and training rather than termination? This could have been handled so much better than it was. Fear drove the decisions.


  2. Overture and the artist hired by MMOCA are both doing exactly what equity, justice, diversity and inclusion training would have them do. That training “profession”, employing so many people and electing so many elected officials, is at the heart of the Democratic Party’s problem.


  3. Hmm, I might use a different acrid-nym here, one that begins with W and ends with F.

    End of populism? If this is what you mean by that word:
    “Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasize the idea of the people and often juxtapose this group against the elite.”
    I heartily disagree.


    1. I see populism as defined by scape-goating. So, for the right it’s immigrants, intellectuals, etc. For the left it’s the one percent, people without college degrees, etc. That’s my primary problem with populism.


      1. I have some agreement with you on the scapegoating, but I wouldn’t broadly lump it together with populism. For example, the treatment of the unvaccinated was aggressively scapegoating, but not populist.

        Populism can be healthy – Canadian truck drivers and those who supported them are a good example.

        Though you will find the idea abhorrent, Trump’s form of populism was generally good for the US. Yes, there were and are many morons associated with him, but no less than the morons on the left. He was the only President since Kennedy to attempt to go up against the globalists and their sycophants, the neo-cons, left and right.

        Hopefully there will much more populist push back, avoiding its degenerate forms.


      2. Well, I have to respectfully disagree with you about Trump, but I get your point. A lot of folks on the left love Fighting Bob, a self-described populist, who did a lot of good, in my opinion.


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