Look, I get it. Your formative years happened at a time when things were a little bit different in this country. When you were growing up, gays were not allowed in the military, and they certainly were not allowed to get married. (Or, if they did find a church to marry them, that marriage meant nothing in the eyes of the law.) You also grew up going hunting with dad and pop-pop, and they taught you a love of guns rivaled only by your love of God.
You grew up in the time or Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton and Bush Jr, the good times. That’s when America was top in the world at everything. We went over to Iraq and kicked Saddam Hussein’s ass in a matter of hours. Then we did it again in 2003 and did it in a matter of days. Sure, Clinton was a “libtard” (as you call Liberals, yet use “Liberals” as a pejorative as well), but at least he was from the South, he opposed people openly gay serving in the military, and he had a strong Republican Congress to contend with. He was kept in check.
Rush Limbaugh was the dude your parents and maybe a younger you listened to. As you came of age, you moved into a more refined diet of InfoWars and Breitbart, people who understood you and your fear of Muslims. They told you all the things you wanted to hear about immigrants, homosexuals, Jews and, again, Muslims. Steve Bannon actually makes sense to you most of the time, and you wish everyone gave his White Nationalism a fair chance, just like MLK Jr. had his fair chance.
You probably didn’t meet a person of color until well into your teens, or maybe even in college. Maybe even then, they were servants or they had some special scholarship that only covered their classes and books, so they had to work the rest of the time and not engage you in your social circles. Then again, maybe you played sports with a couple of Black kids who were really good athletes, but they were not like “those other people” because they were not criminals or welfare smoochers.
All of a sudden, in 2008, things changed. There was a woman third in line for the presidency in Nancy Pelosi, who was Speaker of the House, and, all of a sudden, another woman looked poised to become President of the United States. Then, out of nowhere, some Black dude named — of all names — Barack Hussein Obama appeared and took the nomination from her. The conservatives rallied around John McCain, celebrated war hero. He would be your champion yet go down in flames around all that “hopey changey” stuff that Barack Hussein Obama was promising.
People like Alex Jones or the Age of Autism Antivaccine blog warned you about Barack Hussein Obama and told you about internment camps. The NRA, an organization to which your daddy and pappy belonged and got you a lifetime membership along with your first firearm, told you that Barack Hussein Obama was going to come after your precious, precious guns. Breitbart.com told you about the massive waves of illegal immigrants that were coming over the border and sexually assaulting anyone in sight. Fox News repeated lies and innuendo about shady backroom deals that would take away all of your freedoms and hand them over to “The Gays.”
For eight years, you freaked out. For eight years, you were at or near DEFCON-1 about the federal government. Sure, you smiled at me and were polite in your discussions about issues, but you secretly harbored anger that I got ahead in the world through social justice programs like affirmative action, scholarships and grants while all you had to rely on was a multi-generational system of home ownership, good credit, and free passes from the police and immigration/customs officials.
And who did you have in Congress to stand up to Barack Hussein Obama?
For eight years, you saw gay marriage be decriminalized, legalized, and institutionalized. They goddamned redefined the meaning of marriage for you, and suddenly your marriage wasn’t so hot. They allowed rap music, and suddenly your kid was being rebellious. They allowed undocumented workers to go to school and pay in-state tuition, and suddenly you were out of a job. They allowed the Environmental Protection Agency to say, “Hey, maybe clean water is not such a bad thing,” and suddenly daddy and pappy and uncle Joe were out of their jobs at the mines, the oil rigs, and the coal power plants.
For eight years, you saw the Tea Party movement come about and sell you on the idea that they would save you. They would be the federal government and they would save you from the federal government. They promised that those Jews, Asians, Blacks and Mexicans running the show in Washington and literally running the show in Hollywood would not run your life anymore. Anyone willing to compromise on any kind of sensible solution to our problems as a country was a traitor to the nation. You spat on celebrated war heroes. Women became, as they should in your mind, vessels to carry your Christian babies to term while relinquishing their authority over their bodies.
Then, finally, out of the darkness of Barack Hussein Obama and his plan to give everyone free healthcare, free educations so they could have better jobs and we wouldn’t go broke as a nation… Of the social justice programs that made us more competitive in the world because kids would be able to learn a language other than good-old Christian English… Out of that terrible, terrible darkness and despair you felt when “The Gays” got married and “ObamaCare” paid for your pappy’s bypass and your nephew’s leukemia… Out of all that came Trump.
He, and he alone, would save you.
Dear Conservative Friends, I get it. I understand that Jesus surely must have stuttered when He said that you should love your neighbor as yourself, and that your neighbor was just about anyone in need. That’s why you get bile in your throat and grab for your gun at the thought of a child from Syria, covered in soot, arriving at our shores.
I understand that the Framers of the Constitution made a mistake in writing “person” instead of “citizen” and that’s why you will make sure that the Constitution protects only certain skin-toned, last-named citizens and not all persons. That is why silly typos like the Equal Protection Clause and the Emoluments Clause are to be ignored when it comes to your president, your icon, your commander-in-chief. That’s why the Lügenpresse must be silenced, in your opinion, because the First Amendment should only protect sellers of snake oil and peddlers of conspiracy theories.
Seriously, I get it. I see the world through your eyes. I see a world in flames where all the Muslims and their math and astronomy made no contributions to the Civilized World. I see a world in flames where immigrants have brought nothing to this nation but terrorism, smallpox, and genocide. I see a world in flames where you have to carry your gun to go buy coffee at Starbucks because the delicate snowflakes in there have hurt your feelings about your guns and your Bible.
But that all doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, right?
I’m sure you understand why I don’t believe you when you say that a wall across the US-Mexico border will end all your troubles. You understand me when I tell you that I am going to teach my child English, Spanish, Chinese (either one), French, Arabic and Portuguese. Surely, you understand me when I have the Liberal idea that maybe paying taxes is not such a bad thing when the bridge goes out at 3am in the morning and I can sleep in until 7 because those taxes paid a crew to go out there and do something about it.
I’m plenty sure you see things my way when I tell you that my risk of getting shot at home is exponentially larger with a gun around because I live in a quiet neighborhood in a suburb and not in, say, your darkest nightmare of an Inner City filled with people not like you. You see things my way like I see things your way, of course. You’ve shown me time and time again that the Left is actually the intolerant one, right? Those Lefties, those Libtards and their hateful, intolerant speech against Nazis, the KKK, and men who would grab women by the vulva and refuse to let go until they become president.
We’re on the level about all this stuff, right?
Yeah, no, we’re not. We probably never will be. After all, you’ve decided to see a world full of threats and immediate dangers in the forms of people who are not White, not Christian, and not American. (As if “American” had a standard definition on looks, values, genetics, or religion.) On the other hand, I’ve decided to see a world full of possibilities, of hard-working people who want a fair chance at raising their kids so their kids can do better. My glass is not half full. It’s half empty because I gave the other half of water to someone who was thirsty, just like Jesus would (the Jesus described in the Bible, not the caricature misquoted up on stages of megachurches-slash-concerts). Your glass is half empty because some monster made up in the imagination of Breitbart of Alex Jones or Jenny McCarthy or Andrew Wakefield or Ted Cruz stole your water. Or because you drank it all so no one else could have it.
Listen, I would be more than happy to work with you toward a better world, but you and I differ severely on what “better” is. Better for me is less hunger, less pain, less disease, less war, less violence, and less hate. Better for me is also less waste, better infrastructure, and a living wage for everyone who puts in a hard day’s work.
Better for you is a wall that splits families.
Better for you is a White Nationalist advising your president on what to do.
Better for you are
lies alternative facts and self-aggrandizing.
Better for you is not me.
So, to quote Dan LeBatard, when he was told to “move on.” No, my dear so-called conservative friend, I’m not moving on. I’m going to stay right here. You shuffle along, dragging your anger and your gun, running from boogeymen and Black people, struggling to stay alive in a world set aflame by Obama.
I’m going to stay here and do work, and you and I will be better for it.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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