Tuesday, November 24, 2009

If I only had the nerve

Northern Bro: A few weeks ago Linda, the kids and I were in a local restaurant on a Sunday morning. A few tables over sat a young man with a T-shirt bearing the inscription: “This is America, speak English or get the F*** out!” (quote has been modified for content). Next to this inspirational saying was a picture of the Statue of Liberty.

Now, the shirt wasn’t all that unusual in our section of the country, nor was the proud public display of profanity. What was unusual was that another fellow diner pointed out to the man that the Statue of Liberty was built by people who spoke French and is in fact a symbol of our willingness to open our borders to immigrants. This person even pointed out the relationship between the Statue of Liberty and nearby Ellis Island. The lesson was lost on our poor T-shirt wearer who, as far as I know, left the restaurant as ignorant as he came in.

But the interaction got me to wondering how unusual it was to see someone question ignorant conservative trash to the trash bearer’s face. Why is that?

While pondering this I was reminded of a bumper sticker I saw more than a decade ago, shortly after returning to this state. I believe that the bumper sticker was old at that time and bespoke of a different time in our state’s history. It said: “Courage is being a Carroll County Democrat.” And then it struck me:

• Liberals don’t shoot doctors through their kitchen windows at night because they don’t like the way the doctor practices medicine, conservatives do.
• Liberals don’t beat a man senseless and then tie him to a fence in the middle of winter to die from exposure simply because they feel threatened by the man’s orientation, conservatives do.
• Liberals don’t torture people in the name of freedom and then, full of pride at their level of depravity, take photos so they can show their friends what wonderful value-driven Americans they are, conservatives do.

The list goes on and on. I myself have never been subjected to major discrimination (mostly because I keep my opinions to myself, present commentary excepted), but will note that when, after much deliberation, I put an Obama sign in my front yard last year, on two occasions ignorant yahoos in pick-up trucks screamed obscenities at my daughter and I as we enjoyed our yard. I find it hard to believe that a similar thing would have happened if I had a McCain/Palin sign in front of my home.

Jon Stewart is noted for saying that Democrats have 49% of the vote and 3% of the power (this was during the Bush years). I believe part of the reason is that we are just scared to stand up to the ignorant gun-loving reactionary yahoo conservatives on the other side. Someone once pointed out that the right-wing conservative Christian fanatics in America have a lot more in common with the fanatic Islamic suicide bombers than they to with real Christians and I am sure that is true. I am also sure that it isn’t too far a slide down that slippery slope from the place where it is OK to shoot doctors for practicing abortion to the place where it is OK to blow up an abortion clinic, or even a federal office building, day care center and all, simply because you disagree with the policies of our elected leaders.

So I tip my hat to that nameless person who pointed out the inconsistency on the yahoo’s T-shirt. I only wish I had been so brave, or so clever….. and I am grateful that the yahoo did not go out to his pick-up for his 2nd amendment guaranteed rifle and come back shootin’.

PS: My deepest apologies if I offended any owners of pick-up trucks. They truly are useful vehicles. I myself used to own one, and only sold it when it became necessary to have a vehicle into which I could strap a car seat. I miss that truck.

PPS: My sincere apologies to Yahoo's legal department. Really.

The word yahoo was coined by Jonathan Swift (in Gulliver's Travels, no less), and meant "uncouth" long before Jerry Yang and David Silo chose it as the name for their company -- in fact they picked it specifically because they were charmed by its meaning. So you don't owe them any apology. Strictly speaking, though, when used as the name for the company you're supposed to append an exclamation mark (Yahoo!), though hardly anyone does.

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