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Moment of Truth: Othering the Violence

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink. 

I thought of a funny character name: Dag Nabakov. It's a cross between the old coot's interjection "dag nabbit," Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjöld, and the author of Lolita and Pale Fire, Vlad Nabakov. Or NaBAKov, as people I disagree with about pronunciations mispronounce it. Dag Nabakov is an old southern novelist who moved to Russia and wrote about an old foreigner who falls in love with an underage Russian because she represents everything he idealizes about the brutish freedom of his adopted country. When Shelly Winters kills herself, he plays a hilarious cat-and-mouse game with Peter Sellers until he's finally brought to tears or justice or something. And the Swedish part of the author is, he loves lingonberries, and dies in a plane crash. 

A friend of mine was talking about Donald Dump's recent reaction to the recent incident of terrorist automobile violence in New York. My friend's an adoptive New Yorker, and he said, and I paraphrase freely, "New York doesn't need his anti-immigrant BS. He's always on about immigrants, hating on immigrants, but this is New York, which is immigrant central. It's a city of immigrants, like no other city. I'd just like to see some New Yorkers, grieving about this incident, but then Dump spouting his anti-immigrant BS, and these New Yorkers just beating the crap out of him. That's not how you sympathize with New Yorkers about something like this. It's not an invasion of aliens. It's them. It's one of them like that Las Vegas shooter was one of the white people. New Yorkers know what their city means, and it doesn't mean xenophobic racist real estate pricks who don't pay their contractors." 

It got me thinking about how people become racist. They say no one's born racist. Then they did an experiment with rats that showed rats were racist, so now they're not so sure. People might be born racist. Mammals have cultures, though, even rats. Maybe there's some learned racism among rats. And human culture is ridiculously overwhelming, and many of its effects are creepy and insidious. 

I knew a white guy who worked in the projects in a social-worker-ish capacity, and he was beaten up quite severely by some black teens, and it seemed after that he decided, "What am I not being racist for? What's the point?" And he became a big ol' macho racist. 

How he came by his feelings made sense to me, even if I found his opinions reprehensible. I had never been severely beaten by anyone, though, so I had to chalk his reprehensible opinions up to the traumatic event he suggested was their point of advent. I had to honor his experience, at the very least. Had I gone through a similar experience and not turned racist I might have had more of a leg to stand on. Understanding didn't make it any easier to tolerate his opinions, though, but it made me react to them less vehemently during conversations. 

I don't know if Dump was hazed by Muslims at some point in his young adulthood, but I think we would have heard about it by now if he had been. He's also racist against Mexicans, black people, and Hawaiians. Either he's a magnet for ethnic beatings, or he's just a mean, ignorant jerk. Various other evidence being taken into account, my money's on jerk. 

It is oddly shallow of us humans, how easily we become bigots, or how easily our bigot switch is flipped, if that's what happens. 

I'm sorry, I've have to interrupt myself here for a moment, because I've just had a thought, and it so rarely happens, so I need to take advantage of it when it does, but, here: Don't you think death is a sign of weakness? I mean, if somebody dies, and I don't, doesn't that make me better than them, by comparison? I mean, they're kind of to be pitied, right? Whereas I'm still in the game, y'know, still going. It's sad, really. Poor dead so-and-so, just couldn't keep his act together, just died. That Dorchen, boy, he's still going. There's a lot of sad things about that, but at least he's not dead. 

Yeah. Hey. No one ever died of schadenfreude. But if someone did, I'd think they were pretty pathetic. And I would feel a bit better about myself in comparison. 

I apologize for that frivolous and literally meaningless digression. I feel it reflects badly upon my character. 

Imagine you went on vacation to another country – say, China – and you got mistreated there. Say, just say, by the authorities. Not by unofficial thugs or anything. Just police and the local injustice system. You were beaten and held for weeks without being able to communicate with the outside world. And there was an unfair trial. But eventually you got out and went back to, say, Poughkeepsie. I don't know why I said that. No one lives in Poughkeepsie, that's a place name out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon or something. You went back home to, say, Denver. 

Anyway, a negative experience like that could prejudice you against Chinese people. And I doubt you would differentiate, oh, that was just the Hunan people, the Sizchuan people are very nice, they would never do that. I mean, if that was your first trip to China, that would probably be your only trip to China. I'm imagining you haven't had a great deal of experience with China, in other words, except for this one run-in with the law. You're kind of a neophyte in the China game. 

And, incidentally, if someone from outside our official geographic borders' initial contact with people of the USA is oppressive, we're not doing our brand any favors. 

Forming a simplistic opinion based on inadequate information seems to be the way a lot of us think of people who are ethnically distinct from us when they do violence to us. If they live in another country, we're not going back to that country. But if they're in the same country with us, some of us react as if they weren't: what are they doing here? Why don't they stay in their own country? Well, they're in their own country. There's no "over there" just because someone has a different culture or language or skin color. I mean, I know there's still a lot of white people out there, but are there so many that they think a person of Asian ancestry belongs in a different part of the world? How does difference lead us to picture separation? 

I guess, if someone shoots a group of people, a large number of victims, in a situation like the recent Las Vegas shooting, where there was no warning, no idea, no way to prepare, nothing you could have done about it yourself, as a person in the crowd – there's an understandable desire to separate from the kind of people who do this mass murder. You want to keep them somewhere away, but of course they're white, American, there's no other place to put them. We can't ask all of them to hang out in Branson, Missouri. I mean, I get that the instinct is to want to be as far away as possible from a person who might shoot you. 

But just because someone wears a traditional Muslim head scarf doesn't mean they have somewhere else they can be. Just because someone has a Syrian last name doesn't mean keeping out all the people with that last name would be some kind of meaningful step toward keeping us safe from people who commit mass murder. You could just as well try to deport all the people with the last name Paddock, or McVeigh, or Kaczynski – does that sound like a sensible way to prevent terrorism? 

I guess what I'm saying is, I understand that Dump and his supporters are racist, which makes them afraid, because when they picture a Muslim they picture a terrorist caricature of an Arab, they picture a swarthy Arab looking like Yasser Arafat but much darker complected. Grinning, slavering, caressing a bomb with a lit fuse. And, I guess what I'm saying is, Dump and his supporters are effing jerks. 

That's not anything most of you didn't already know. But what may not have occurred to you is that he and his supporters will one day all be dead, and then their truly weak natures will be revealed. The living will see them for what they are, what they've been all along: piles of inanimate, rotting meat. Which is the way of all flesh. So why waste your short time on Earth being a racist douchebag, indulging your ignorance, cowardice and weakness, only to become even weaker still in death? The answer for Donald Dump is, that's his brand. 

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day! 

Moment of Truth


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