By David Snyder

“Hipsters and Hassids” by Elke Reva Sudin

It’s only natural for people to change their fashions with the times. When I’m out and about in Autumn, on the sidewalks and in the coffee shops and restaurants, most are clad with flannel and plaid, a light coat atop a wooly sweater — maybe a cap or a scarf to tie the whole ensemble together. Then Winter rolls around, and out come the fur and the mittens and caps that cover the ears. When the snow is falling, fashion is chucked out the window to freeze; warmth is the name of the game, and if that means wearing horrid boots and puffy coats then so be it.

Trends in fashion are another thing. It seems I’m one of the few men who’ve spurned the long hair fastened at the end with a bun. I don’t think it would flatter me in any way. I’m not terribly adept at growing out the scruff, so I’m afraid I’m going to miss the beard boat altogether. Now and then, people up and decide to wear their jeans a bit higher up the waste, roll their sleeves up one way that’s particularly en vogue, spring for one brand or the other. The nature of man is to fashion oneself to the times.

I fear that our minds, too, are capable of such fashionable adjustments. When the goose-steppers and Brown Shirts appeared fine and with a well-cut jib on the newsreels, many Americans looked around the cities in the Union and thought to hell with all of this democratic nonsense. When the Reds gave everybody a good Scare, suddenly Hollywood was full of vermin in need of a good fumigating. When the Towers came down, Bush had his finger on the trigger and the great majority of Americans threw themselves behind his finger. When a decrepit businessman promised a return a so-called once great nation to a mythical, glorious bygone age, many people allowed bigotry, discrimination, sexism, racism, bullying, and dogmatism to sweep them off their feet and into the arms of a pseudo-fascist.

I do hope that enough of us are quite happy with our current fashions, and wish not for the entrance into the vogue of a self-proclaimed profit, one who touts the exclusion of ethnic and religious minorities, the jailing of political rivals, and the virtues of the assaulting of women. I’m fine with the buns and the beards, but I must draw the line somewhere, after all.

I feel sick to my stomach when I hear people who’ve become convinced that the authoritarian way is the right way, simply because the democratic way is something other than perfection. Whatever the fashions of the day, I’ll be here, believing in the goodness of a free people, keeping my cuffs rolled over twice and my belt notched on the penultimate loop. If such beliefs make me nothing more than a silly boy or immature, then I’m more than pleased to allow the rest of the world go ahead and grow up around me.