I don't usually do things in several parts but a small event in my life this weekend has caused me to do some thinking. It seems to do justice to the conclusions to which I have come, requires that I make more than one entry on this subject.
The event in question wasn’t anything big. I was coming out of a local restaurant after brunch and saw a truck. It was a large truck with large wheels. The only thing that made it stand out amongst other trucks of it’s kind was the fact that on the back window the driver had someone stencil the words “Liberalism is” and then had a host of words around them. Around this centered commentary were a bunch of words. They included: ignorant, bigot, racist, socialist, fascist, spiritually bankrupt.
I don’t begin to remember all the words listed, nor do I understand all the commentary. For instance, for the life of me I cannot comprehend socialist and fascist describing the same group of people.
I do remember being angry
As I got into the car, I turned to my companion and said, “At this moment, I know what it feels like to be an African American in the United States in the 1960s.” I can only imagine the outrage of seeing things like that written about your race, your family, your culture over and over again. I realize that one moment of my life gives me no real kinship to a group of people who have experienced subtle hatred throughout their lives, but at that moment, I understood the pain of a single incident and it did occur to me how damaging all those so called “innocent” comments could be in a way, as a white woman, I had never experienced before.
I do identify myself as a liberal. I think liberalism is a good thing. It means we are working on changing things. We are striving for other ideas. We are working towards equality for everyone. I’m not insulted by the socialist comment. I like to think I’m a socialist. I am insulted that they think I’m a racist. The person with the truck hasn’t even met me. How dare he throw around such words?
The fascist thing perplexes me. If liberals are fascist, does that make conservatives communist? See I just can’t wrap my mind around it. Bigot. That’s another strong word that I take exception to. However, if it means I am prejudiced against people who write horrible things on their vehicles about liberals, then perhaps I am. Ignorant? I wanted to go head to head with that person and show him my degree wall and ask about his. You see, I say “his” because I’ve made an assumption about this truck. She may actually be educated but bigot that I am, I suspect it’s an uneducated male.
At any rate, these words made me angry. I realized that I was angry because although this person doesn’t know me and probably never will, he was passing judgment upon me. I could never join his group. As far as he was concerned, I needed to be punished and shamed because I dared to believe differently than he did.
After being angry and wanting to spray paint obscenities all over his truck (and you thought I was a calm and peaceful, didn’t you?), it made me sad that there are so many people who are so fearful that they won’t even open the door to anyone different. They proclaim their hatred from their cars and trucks, like a door slammed that says keep out and go away. They proclaim fear and try and spread that fear and hate. It’s a sad place to be, don’t you think?
As I rest this, I have to wonder, who is that person who proclaims those words with such hatred even when he’s not around. Does he know the hatred he is sowing? Does he know that he is causing pain?