Last weekend my husband and I had the distinct pleasure of attending the wedding of a very old friend of my husband’s family. My husband grew up with the bride and so we were honored to drive the 2+ hours across the state to be the representatives from our family.
We were amongst a group that the bride had known since she was very young, and there were older people — friends of my husband’s dad — who were there that we hadn’t seen in quite a long time.
Naturally, they asked about our sons, our jobs, all the things people ask about when they haven’t seen you in a long while.
One gentleman, who goes way back with my husband’s family and who is retired and in his late 60s, asked me how my teaching was going.
I am always happy to answer this question and talk about my job.
After I told him about how the beginning of the year was, he asked followed up with this: “How many of your students already speak Spanish?”
That is a fair question. I teach in a very diverse, urban school. I told him about a third of my students in my Spanish classes already identify Spanish as one of their languages.
Then this unexpected gem of a question came at me, “So how many of them are illegal?”
I just sat blinking at him for a minute.
Did he just ask me this question in the middle of a wedding reception? Was he serious?
Unfortunately, he was totally serious.
My response? “I don’t know. I don’t ask. I just teach the kids who walk through my door because that is my job.”
Then he said, “You know why I ask, don’t you? Because I have a sticker on my car. And that sticker says ‘Mitt Romney’.”
It was at this point that I turned to my husband and gave him a pleading look. He turned and said, “Hey now. This is a wedding. It’s not the place to bring up politics! Let’s all have a drink and relax.”
But I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.
This is really how some people think. This particular gentleman is famous for forwarding those emails that are so rampant with misinformation and made up crap that most everyone — even those who are also conservative — have blocked his emails and have them sent to spam.
Is it just a few “crazy” people like this guy, or should we be worried?
On our drive back home to West Michigan after the wedding, I noticed a bill board that said, “Obama supports gay marriage and abortion. Do you? Vote Republican.”
I laughed the first time I saw it and my husband chuckled and said, “same sex marriage and an abortion for everyone! weee! Wait…if we are all marrying the same sex, won’t that take care of needing abortions? Seems like a good plan to me. Obama it is!”
But the next time I saw it, I wasn’t laughing.
As we got closer to home, we passed a house that is right on the highway and that I pass every single day on my way home from work. It is a VERY “vocally” conservative house. They ALWAYS have signs up for the traffic on the highway to see that they support America, our troops, and all republicans.
Last year they had a sign that said, “We support our troops, but not our president.”
Usually I don’t think anything of it. It’s their right to say/believe what they want. It just happens to be different from what I believe.
But after last weekend I have been noticing that most of the conservative things I see aren’t just differing beliefs, they are actually buying into misinformation.
It’s not uncommon around here to see people who have an old semi-trailer on their property with some sort of political messaged blazoned on the side. And usually it’s conservative. The last one I saw said, “A Vote for Obama is a Vote for Socialism.”
I am not even sure that the people who take their spray cans to these trailers know what socialism really is. If they did, I don’t think they would support a guy with bagillions of inherited dollars that he may or may not be paying taxes on when he says that he thinks that if you can pay for it, then you can have it.
How do these people not understand that he doesn’t mean them?
The same people in my area who think Mitt Romney is the answer are the very people who will be drastically hurt by his policies if he gets voted into office and has his way.
I’m not saying voting for President Obama is the answer to all our perils in this country. In fact, I wish we had more choices.
My concern is about the people who identify so closely to the far right that they are willing to believe misinformation and falsities just to stick with their candidate. People who are terrified to be seen as anything less than staunchly conservative that they will make up inaccuracies about what non-extreme right wingers think and believe.
Extreme leftists do the same thing, I just happen to be surrounded by the extreme right where I live.
I don’t understand this fear of being exposed to something different. Is it a fear of finding out you have been wrong? Or part of what you think has been wrong?
What is so awful about that? Wouldn’t you want to correct it?
This is what puzzles me every single time there is an election. Why are people — both left and right –so close-minded about the issues?