JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

I’m done

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Today I sparred back and forth for a final time on health care reform with a friend of mine. I have decided, blogging-wise, I’m calling it a day in this area. Game over.

Simply put, some people just don’t care. You can talk about the 40 million sans health insurance; about the greedy corporations desperate to defeat a public option; about people being denied and denied and denied and denied—and some among us will never, ever, ever, ever really give a shit.

That’s my friend. She’s a very nice person within the parameters of her own world. But her view of America is, frankly, sick. Obama is a Muslim, probably not born here. He wants to kill Grandma and open the borders to every living Mexican. There’s too much Spanish being spoken, and George W. Bush was the man to lead us. Though we weren’t attacked by Iraq, we had to respond forcefully against The Terrorists (caps intended), and those Iraqis do, without question, look a helluva lot like Al Queda. So it was just.

To my friend, America is best symbolized by the above picture. We have, in her thoughts, become way too whiny. People need to help themselves, or suffer the consequences. Welfare mothers and crack addicts and  the like have made their own beds, so why should others be called to do anything about it? My friend looks at the Democrats and sees a bunch of snobs sipping tea and driving BMWs. Global warming is a hoax, and she has the proof—winter is still cold, summer is still hot. My friend probably doesn’t have any beef with the gays, but why do they have to flaunt it?

My friend wants the government to stay out of our lives. Well, except for Medicaid. And Medicare. And the post office, the military, conservative Supreme Court rulings, the police and fire departments, her bi-weekly garbage pickup. But no new government because, well, she’s not quite sure. Except that the government=bad.

My friends gets her information from those around her, Fox News and conservative talk radio. If Rush or Hannity or Billy O says it, moments later the words become her own. She dismisses the New York Times as a liberal rag, but never actually reads the New York Times to know such is true. She probably can’t name more than five U.S. senators, but they can’t be trusted. (Actually, on this point she might be right).

My friend loves America, but I wonder whether she knows America. Does she appreciate the richness of the diversity? Does she understand the need to pick up those who are down and struggling? She cites her own immigrant past, but does she really know what it means? Who she is? What she—as a person living here—stands for?

We are both Americans.

But we live in vastly different Americas.