Every once in a while, I try experimenting with having a political opinion completely 180 degrees from my own. Pro-life, Republican, heteronormative, Dominionist Christian, what have you. It improves me as a writer, possibly also as a person. And it gives me the bends similar to LSD.
I don’t keep the opinion, mind you. I just exercise what it would be like to believe that Sarah Palin was actually qualified to be Vice President, that the Republican party gives a shit about poor working class people, that Obama was a secret Muslim, that somehow being a Muslim disqualifies you from being a human, or even a President, that white American people are superior to everyone else on the planet, and that those fucking Mexicans want my job.
And then I realize that it’s time wasted; that there are probably not enough people truly of that persuasion who would be capable or willing to do that kind of introspection.
They could never entertain the idea that maybe they’re wrong, or even experimentally believing that possibly they’ve been terribly lied to. That they’re horribly scared and unable to express it for fear of seeming weak in the world’s eyes. That maybe, just maybe, Obama would simply do a better job if they gave him a chance. That Mexicans have rights too, that English is spoken better in other countries and by non-native speakers, that speaking English doesn’t make one superior. That we’ve been awfully gluttonous and irresponsible as a society for far too long.
See, that’s the thing about us pro-choice, feminist, working class inner-city regular folks, the ones that work with people of all races and don’t think it’s that big of a deal. That’s the kind of introspection that does occasionally occur with the minimum wage – to – ridiculously poor inner city demographic I occupy. Poor, inner-city folks, even the white ones, don’t tend to suffer as badly from a privilege-induced lack of coping skills.
We live far enough away, but not far enough away from places like Farmington, Minnesota, where we found out during Senator McCain’s town hall meeting that being a *gasp* Arab or a Muslim is something to be feared, especially by badly educated old lady conspiracy theorists. Even Senator McCain, who had relied on the momentum his campaign had gained from the exploitation of this sad, yet not so small demographic, had to take the microphone back from the frightened old lady and do some damage control. To tell the rest of the civilized world through this single bumpkin who’d probably never had occasion to even talk to a black person, and wouldn’t know how to do so, that overt racism is not a decent way to run a campaign.
Poor Senator McCain. He had to do damage control by quelling the same invective and ignorance that his upper midwestern supporters had come to support him by using. From the booing, one can tell that appeals to higher character don’t really work with crowds like that.
Perhaps the right thing to do would be to try to educate, to gently disarm the racist ignorance. But at this point, a year and some months into the campaign, all I have energy for is something like, “Bitch, please, the Somali Muslims in town… you know, the ones that are black and Muslim, are some of the least troublesome people I know. They talk to God certainly more often than you do, and they know their holy books better.”
But people from Farmington are scared of setting foot into Minneapolis. I assure them, after having seen the sort of thing that comes from Farmington, the feeling is mutual.