The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant has returned from the meeting of the minds at the annual conference. Our day job is philanthropy, which comes as a shock to some, but The Rant enjoys putting other people’s money where our mouth is. Let us begin by saying that an ex-president, Bush II: The Triumph of Mediocracy stopped by to say nothing for vast amount of money.1 We expect our cell phone back any day now from the Secret Service. Head back to the easel George and leave the commoners alone.

The Rant always enjoys hearing the latest jargon and absolutely world-changing paradigms at these shindigs. We were told to lean in so many times we did a complete 360 and sent the tape to the X Games. We were also admonished to sharpen our pencils on the pressing issues of the day and to occupy spaces not previously occupied. Who’s in that space? We’d like to get into that space. That’s a fascinating space. That space offers a new way of looking at things. Can anyone hear me scream in that space?

When the woman began her conference session by saying, “I’m not one of those people that has to make everything about me,” The Rant knew we were in trouble. By the time she finished, we knew more about her than our own mother. When did we decide that a disclaimer makes the exact opposite behavior acceptable? Listen, I’m not racist, but let me tell you how the Mexicans are ruining this country. Don’t get me started on the blacks. Racists love the definite article. It’s not just any minority: it’s The Minority, the one leading us down the road to perdition. The Rant’s not one to cast aspersions, but those people are tools.

The conference session merely serves as the appetizer for the main course: the Q&A. Let’s identify the culprits. First there’s Guy-that-has-to-give-you-his-accomplishments-but-has-no-real-question. “Hi, Bob Smith from the Nabob County Foundation, you know your presentation reminded me we raised $13 million for displaced squirrels last year, and I was just wondering if anyone is as awesome as I am?” No, Bob, no one does squirrels like you.

Next up is Person Offended You Didn’t Mention the Issue that Defines their Lives. “Yes, I was just wondering how you could fail to touch on the plight of Nepalese textile workers in your presentation about Bolivian micro-entrepreneurs? Let me just rattle off reams of stats to highlight your insensitivity and my desperate need to find a hobby.” This always marks the point at which The Rant decamps to find a bar.

Many people in philanthropy are in need of a little philanthropy for their souls. But they’re still far more heroic than some putz in a hedge fund betting against the stocks in my IRA. So there’s no harm in making it all about themselves in a meeting of their peers. They’re still trying to change the world rather than burn it to the ground for a couple of extra bucks. The Rant raises our glass to you, champions of charity; just don’t expect us to last through the entire Q&A.

  1. In the interest of full disclosure, The Rant did not actually attend that plenary. We have standards and refuse to indulge in the American pastime of nostalgia for someone five minutes after they nearly destroyed the civilized world. What a simpler time, when we were torturing people that deserved it and destroying the economic stability of the majority of Americans. What’s not to feel all warm and fuzzy about?

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