Thursday, October 2, 2008
Evil in Paradise*
So ... get this. It's a lovely autumn day outside. Crisp, clear, sunny, and I'm finally over my cold, so I just took a break to meet a friend for tea. I pin my "Cat Lovers for Obama" button on my sweater and head out, happy as a lark. Halfway into Central Square, I run into a tall, well-dressed youngish man who calls out to me, "Is that an Obama button?" I stop, turn, and say, "Yes." I mean, hey, I live in Cambridge, the People's Republik. One of the two most liberal cities in our country (the other being San Francisco, though I know parts of the Upper West Side come close). I'm used to people stopping to ask me where I got such a cute button - and I'm trying to remember as I turn if it was democraticstuff.com or org. And as I turn and smile at him, he asks me, "Do you have a moment for some dialogue?"
And I think, uh oh. But hey, maybe he wants to know what Obama plans for the economy. Or maybe he's nervous about Obama's stance on "the war on terror," such as it is. These are reasonable concerns, and I do understand (really, most of the time) that differing opinions (and fears) will make some people support McCain. So I say, "Well, I'm running late, but I have a moment." And I try to summon up everything I've read recently, trying to get ready to respond.
But then I realize – and it takes me a few moments – that he's asking me, "What will Obama do about black men raping white woman." HUH? Yeah, that's what he's on about. So I tell him that I believe Obama will help the crime rate by helping the economy, and that if more people have access to jobs and education, the crime rate will drop. But he continues, "But what about when black men rape white women..." and he starts spouting some made-up numbers. So I counter: "But that's a fallacy. Most attacks on women are perpetrated by people they know. So most rapes are black on black or white on white." He's not listening and is still talking. So I keep talking. "Most sexual assaults of all kinds are perpetrated by someone who the victim already knows - husbands, ex-boyfriends, etc." (This is true, look it up.) He's still going on. So I finally wise up and just yell out: "YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT! I'M A WHITE WOMAN AND I'M VOTING FOR OBAMA." And I turn and walk away.
Just then, a black woman walks by us and turns to me, asking, "What was he on about?" "Crazy fucking racist," I respond, and we walk together the next few blocks, having a nice chat about violence against women and self-defense courses we have both taken.
Man. In Cambridge. This really makes me worry about the rest of the country.
*I'm not saying "serpent" because I'm not going to blame some innocent reptile for this. It's purely human.