This literary giant of the early 20th century understood the MAGA Mentality

Originally published at:

From the creator of Cats™ !

Before indoor plumbing one would literally throw the dirty bath water out the window, hence the “weird phrasing.”


MAGAts have been clear that they do want to do harm. They just want to “hurt the right people”.

These are fascists. Violence and bigotry are baked into their movement.


Yeah, I don’t agree at all that this quote accurately captures the MAGA mentality. Remember the MAGA supporter early in Trump’s Presidency, when he had done something that was hurting small farmers? She literally said, “He’s hurting the wrong people.”


to add a bit of context to 1000yearban’s reply: even now many people bathe their babies in smaller tubs mostly for safety/non-drowning reasons while ‘way back when’ it was to likely to conserve water and due to lack of full-size bath tubs.
The phrase is Germanic in origin and associated with a 1512 woodcut carving. I remember first coming across while readying a Smithsonian tome on the history of newspaper illustrations, political cartoons, and comics.


Compliment or condemnation?


My mom grew up on a farm without indoor plumbing back in the 1930s. On Saturday night, they’d fill a washtub with water. The oldest child would bathe first, the second oldest next, the third, last. All with the same water. Presumably, the baby would be bathed last, and the water was so dirty by then, that you might not see it in the murk, and thus mistakenly discard the baby with the dirty water when you dumped it out in the yard. That’s how this phrase was explained to me by my mom, many years ago.


Well, sociopaths are nothing new. Fascists aren’t new. Having extrinsic (rather than intrinsic) value systems isn’t new.


You remind me of how it was described in the novel Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, only there it was the other way around in her book. In her telling, the youngest bathed first, then the elder sibling dumped that water and bathed, then the mother, then finally the father who would leave the tub until morning because the freshly bathed might catch cold dumping the water.

I really don’t want to go look in that book, I only keep it because it was my first hardcover and I’ve owned it for almost 50 years. But I’ve soured on Laura Ingalls Wilder and the racism towards native Americans that she showed. I feel she would have voted for Trump and Lauren Boebert.


Pa also comes off as a serial screw-up, dragging his family along on his journey of disastrous incompetence. And yet she admires him.

So yeah, probably a proto-MAGAt


Are you implying that the woodcarving came first? That would be an interesting way for a phrase to begin. Surely the phrase came first, and the woodcarving after it…

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I’ve read those books, and they are racist, no doubt. For Ingalls Wilder, her father was doing something noble, and the Indigenous People they encountered were “savage” and hostile. That they were totally justified in their hostility is lost on her. She was steeped in the dirty water of her time.

The original quote and Yoy Luadha’s thoughts about TS Eliot makes me wonder … will future people judge us “progressive” and “enlightened” 21st century people by the dirty bathwater we’re all steeping in now? Will it be climate? Eating meat? Keeping pets? Or maybe something we aren’t even enlightened yet enough to recognize about ourselves?


You’re reminding me that I prefer this quotation:



So he would have taken his family to Russia if he was around today?

I dream of a society where I will be guillotined for being a conservative.

P.J. Proudhon

Also me, but right now it seems more likely that I would be interned for being a revolutionary.


I dream of a society where no one would be guillotined, but I do like the cut of that quote’s jib.

The Communards burned the Paris guillotine, and one of their major factions were the Mutualists, who believed in Proudhon’s theories.


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