“So let me clarify your stance; you want to burn down the homes of ALL Muslims in the United States in order to encourage them to spy on neighbors that may or may not have been radicalized?” I took another hit from my hookah. Perhaps I had heard this twentysomething incorrectly. I repeated my question.
“Yes.” He said.
I had every intention to remain calm in order to discuss this with a degree of intelligence (which clearly this discussion was lacking) but as this felt like an episode of The Twilight Zone –an emotional Chriss came out. This is really what he believed? This doesn’t even make sense…it’s just bigotry rearing its ugly head. He had incited violence from deep within me. I wanted to shake him. We spoke for a few more minutes and learned that he is also in favor of using the Atom Bomb and referenced Hiroshima several times. I tried to explain that there are major consequences – environmentally, physically & ethically. He proceeded to interrogate me on my plan to end the recent bout of ISIS fueled terrorism. I confessed that I was not a military strategist but that burning down the homes of millions of innocent Americans based on their faith or ethnicity was emphatically NOT the answer. This is the same ideology we are fighting against. I felt sick.
How did he develop this belief system? How are we even in the same social group? He stood up and walked away towards the other 2 members of our once jovial group. He didn’t feel we could have a “rational” discussion.I was not being rational. Rational? Had I missed something? How were my thoughts not rational? Why wasn’t anybody backing me up? Not one person said “dude, this seems a bit wacked, lets focus on karaoke and talk about it later.” Tense, awkward laughter over how “liberal” I was permeated the air space. He had forced me into this discussion and now I was ostracized from my friends. Karaoke- in- Hebrew night was not off to a good start.
This has been happening a lot lately (not the karaoke but the hateful racist plan making) and I blame Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. As he has gained momentum, Trump has unwittingly (or perhaps strategically…) given people permission to unleash their racist, homophobic, sexist, conspiracy theory riddled, ignorant ideology which trickles down onto social media platforms. Perhaps such thoughts were always lurking about in our grey matter but now we feel free to broadcast our bat sh-t crazy plans in the name of #MakingAmericaGreatAgain. What used to be fun Facebook cat meme posts are now mini essays of gobbly guck that often read like the manifesto of a man living in a bunker… full of guns… without human contact…and high on meth.
Admittedly, I’ve never been concerned with politics.It’s not where my interests lay and not something I enjoy reading or debating. Trump changed this. First it was entertaining to hear the recap of a speech he had given the night before. Now intelligent friends are translating those speeches into the rhetoric they want to hear and pledging their support.
I consider myself a moderate. I try and listen to what is going on all sides, what the bigger picture is and consider my own biases and where I need to expand my knowledge on. However lately, I feel like I’m drowning. This is not a Clinton vs. Trump or what political party you are affiliated with type thing. I’m concerned more with how this festive campaign season is pitting us against one another and how I can no longer disassociate my friends and their fun loving personalities from their political beliefs. Are you a Jet or a Shark?