WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

“I’m offended that you don’t believe the lies I believe”

Sometimes I let myself hold out hope that we’re just going through a political phase in this era, one in which our cliques are more important than the commonweal. Nothing matters more than our political identity and the array of values and signals that represent it. There’s still a little room for hope because if it’s just a phase, it will one day end.

Lately I’m losing my grip on that sense of hope. Obama’s election feels so long ago now.

My wife and I live in a deeply red county in blue California. American flags fly everywhere here, along with the Blue Lives Matter flag(s) and more than a few Don’t Tread on Me’s. Gunshots can often be heard echoing across the green canyons. People go to church on Sunday, then gripe about that communist, Gavin Newsom, at the dinner table.

But we’re not the only libs around here. Another one, a young woman named Charlene (not her real name!), works at the local post office and proudly drives an older Toyota emblazoned with progressive stickers all over the windows and bumper. Black Lives Matter. Do Better, America. End Racism. Abolish ICE. Vote! Practice Compassion. Bernie 2020. There’s a rainbow flag captioned Resist, and an Earth Day logo. We love pulling into that parking lot and seeing Charlene’s proud liberal presence there.

Well, last week, she told my wife that a woman had come in that day and said, “I wonder whose car that is out there. The liberal.” Charlene said it was her car, and the woman told her, “Well, it offends me.”

This woman was seriously angry. Her face looked like she’d just taken a bite out of a cat turd. Christy followed her out to make sure she didn’t vandalize her car, since someone had just keyed it front to back the week before. And that’s when she saw that the woman’s car was caked with Trump stickers. Jesus for Trump, said one.

I can’t say that I’m literally offended when I see Trump and QAnon messages out there in the world, but I am continually stunned that people are absorbing these messages willingly. I don’t hate anyone because they believe things I find ridiculous. But I hate the way some people treat others who don’t share their beliefs. And that’s what that woman was saying: “I’m offended that you don’t believe what I believe.”

Not much room for hope if that kind of thinking persists.

I would have said to that woman: “You know what offends me? Donald Trump grabbing women by the pussy and bragging about it.”

She’s blocked that one out, I’m sure.

On top of that anecdote, we watched the MSNBC documentary about the Civil War and came away thinking that, for the most part, the South will never give up The Lost Cause. The film is mostly depressing on that front, revealing a fairly widespread fondness for the confederate flag, myths about the Old South, a time when Blacks “knew their place.” They’re in real denial down there. Or at least the older-generation whites are.

Some people say that all we have to do is talk to each other, understand each other, but when your political rival is like that woman at the post office or like the heritage-sanctifying southerners who turn a blind eye to the moral horrors of slavery and contemporary racism, I don’t see how there can be any understanding.

Right now the best we can legitimately hope for is peaceful coexistence until this thing passes over, but I’m not sure the other side is down for that.

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10 comments on ““I’m offended that you don’t believe the lies I believe”

  1. justdrivewillyou
    November 2, 2021

    Very sad condition we are in right now. Like you, I’m hoping it’s just a phase, but we may be kidding ourselves.

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 2, 2021

      Today’s election in Virginia should be a good barometer. I’m not expecting good news.

  2. mastroji
    November 2, 2021

    Sadly, I believe you are right.

  3. Marie A Bailey
    November 4, 2021

    Hey, what are you saying about the South?! Well … you be right 😦

  4. Charlotte
    November 4, 2021

    I am offended by Democrats depicting all Republicans as Trump loving, QAnon believing mysoginist, transphobic, xenophobic, racist Neanderthals. I’m a life-long Independent who’s voted both parties. (My husband is a Republican who voted Dem for Obama twice.) I’ve lived in the Deep South since I was 9. I have never seen a KKK rally nor do my family or friends sit around talking about the “The Lost Cause” – who says that other than out of touch non-southern Elitists? I have conservative Republican friends (not far right!) & and liberal Democratic friends and without a doubt the Democrats are more intolerant and out of touch with average people. I live in a 75% brown/black neighborhood (40 yrs]. What’s the racial mix of yours? Have you ever lived in the south? Are you friends with any Republicans? Or do you only fraternize with like-minded people? I keep a low political profile with my online lit friends because I think I’d be shunned if they knew I skew a bit conservative. Just because I don’t drink the liberal kool-aid does not mean I’m ignorant or intolerant. I’ll step off my soap box now and thank you for your time. (And pray I won’t be trolled.)

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 4, 2021

      I hope you return to see this reply. Nobody will troll you here. I’ll delete any comments that aren’t fair and respectful.

      I don’t think you can find any remarks I’ve made in this post that suggest that all Republicans fall into the baskets you mention. I try very hard not to generalize, but I also know, from experience these last few years, that most of the Republicans I’ve known hopped aboard the Trump Train and never looked back. They didn’t care about the pussy thing. They didn’t care about Trump smashing government institutions (such as the independence of the DOJ). They didn’t care about his handling of the pandemic. They just liked getting their judges confirmed and the way Trump “owned the libs.”

      I’m not characterizing you that way. I don’t know you. For all know, you don’t even watch Fox News.

      But here’s what I do know. Republicans, and southerners, represent themselves to the wider world all the time. Some of the things I’ve noticed lately include:

      The tomahawk chop in Atlanta during the World Series.

      A nearly all-white jury in the Ahmaud Aubrey trial.

      Red state after red state restricting voting rights in a way that overwhelmingly affects people of color more than whites.

      Texas, and soon many other states, attempting to outlaw abortion whether the Supreme Court goes along with it or not.

      Conservative gun culture being forced on all 50 states, if the Supreme Court rules as expected.

      It seems to me that not too many conservatives speak out against these things, so I can only conclude that they’re for them.

      I grew up in St. Louis. I lived in Virginia for a while as a kid. I had Black schoolmates and friends, as well as colleagues over the years. Now I live in a redder-than-red part of California and it’s lily white, as you might expect. I get a pretty good view of “conservative values” here. Most people I meet, I refuse to talk politics with.

      And there you have it.

  5. Adrienne Morris
    November 12, 2021

    I think I’m a bit more to the right than you, Kevin, but we’ve always gotten along. 🙂 I have a few friends who are Native American who actually love the tomahawk chop, the Indian mascots and names on sports teams. They don’t want to be erased and don’t mind the references to their warrior past (when they were just as violent as the rest of us). But the real problem to me is that twitter etc force people to use sound bites instead of deep thoughts to express their views. The media then follows suit with talking points that leave out all the gray areas on the issues we’re all concerned about. Then there’s the insane way people dox each other. Normal people don’t really want to get doxed so they stay quiet (I bet this is true for most people no matter their politics). My experience with people of all colors in real life is that if you are kind most will be kind back. There are exceptions of course — usually those people run for office. Have you ever read More Guns, Less Crime? It was very thought provoking for me. All the best, my friend!

    • Kevin Brennan
      November 13, 2021

      Great to hear from you, Adrienne! And thanks for making these points. I try really hard not to generalize, so to my mind it’s not that people are left or right but instead how they represent themselves and whether or not they respect other people’s ideas. You’re so right about how media has no room for detail or nuance, so we’re all operating on broad brushstrokes and probably being manipulated as a result. As far as Native Americans not caring about the chop, I’ve read stories about objections to it, so it’s probably not a good idea to generalize on that one either! No group is monolithic. I haven’t read “More Guns” but I’m not sure the concept makes sense on a large scale because of the “who’s the good guy?” problem. That and lack of adequate training. That’s my 2 cents!

      PS–I love your pics of the farm on Instagram!

      • Adrienne Morris
        November 13, 2021

        Thank you! Hope you have a great holiday season. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Pain in the annus | WHAT THE HELL

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