Yesterday one of the employees of Golden Grotto, a decades-old costume and novelty store here in Jonesboro, Arkansas, reported that a couple of teenagers came in and asked if they sold swastika armbands or Nazi memorabilia. The employee replied in the negative, and the boys left the store and climbed into their vehicle, which was, surprise surprise, covered with Confederate flags and Trump stickers.
This only scratches the surface of disturbing current events, even locally, but it vexes me because I don’t know what I’d do in a similar situation. For the sake of my family, my wife and three children who have health insurance provided by my employer, I’d have to bite my tongue off. Like it or not, the day of reckoning shall arrive. I’ll be forced to be uncomfortable and weigh my security versus the liberty of others, and I hope I’ll pick my battles wisely. Like Mom always says, “Is this the ditch you want to die in today?”
They, the crude ones, are emboldened by our President’s irresponsible rhetoric. Just yesterday I saw yet another brave Arkansan write, “Muslims are made in outhouses,” on a friend’s Facebook wall. At that point, when someone equates over a billion people to excrement, there’s nothing to say in response but, “Hey, fuck you, buddy.” How am I supposed to argue up from doo doo?
Maybe it’s a bit more convenient now that the sickness, the plague of bigotry that festered in American brains, presents more obvious symptoms. You can’t fight what you can’t see, and you don’t have to spend as long vetting people if they wear their hatred on their sleeve.
It is a mistake, however, to make zombies of all the opposition. It cannot be so binary. For every Neo-nazi teenager and shitposting steakhouse fan (I don’t know why, but every time this happens, motherfucker’s profile pics are inevitably a mix of right wing propaganda and photos of restaurants where you throw peanut shells on the floor), there’s a downtrodden businessman or a Proud Christian Grandmother. There has to be some way to triage this outbreak.
The left has failed the poor. They’ve absolutely abandoned the worker. I’m not surprised that these kids are picking up the old-and-busted new hotness of Fascism. Cheetoe Mussoli talks shit like a pro, and every high school veteran knows the head shit-talker is always right.
Well, maybe not right, but at least they’re the winner.
When those Trump Youth walk in here, I hope I can provide a teaching moment. I pray to chaos and the void that the nothing, or whatever malevolent power has tossed us into Pandemonium like a bored kid burning down his SimCity, will give me the strength and the fortitude to channel Saint Fred Rogers.
Believe it or not, I’m a lover, not a fighter. I want this to be okay. I want to like them just the way they are, Fred, but when they’re asking for armbands?
I’m going to need your help, Fred. I don’t know how.