Wanting America Back

I was in a high-end restaurant, waiting to have a meeting with a friend, and arrived before he did. I was led to our table, which had already been reserved.

Our table was next to one at which four white women were already sitting. They were older, looking to be in their late 70s and/or early 80s. It felt like they were engaging in a “girl’s day out” kind of time. They were laughing and sharing, talking about their husbands, their children and grandchildren, their charity work, and their professions, from which they had all retired.

I couldn’t help but hear everything they were talking about, and found myself chuckling from time to time at some of the things they shared. Privacy was not an option or a concern for them.

So, when they started talking about politics and the current slate of GOP candidates, the fact that they were sharing their views for all to hear was not surprising. They were Republicans, committed Republicans, that was for certain, because they said so, out loud.
The GOP candidates were interesting, they said. Carly “what’s her name? Is she still in the race?” Fiorina didn’t impress any of them, nor did Jeb Bush. They never mentioned Ben Carson, and kind of skated through their opinions of the candidates who have now left the race, including Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and Rand Paul.

But then they got to the meat of their discussion: the top three candidates, according to the polls, plus Chris Christie. Trump, they said, was OK. Rubio was not; he was in favor of “bringing all those immigrants, or letting all those immigrants” come into or stay in this country. “Oh no, no immigrants,” said three of the women in response to the now-emerged spokeswoman for the group. One woman weakly tried to say that the immigrants who have been working here should be allowed to become citizens, but she was shut down.

Chris Christie should not be president, said the “louder-than-the-rest” woman because “he hugged Obama. That did it for me. He hugged Obama after Hurricane Sandy.” She said it in such a way which indicated she wanted everyone to know that yes, she said it, and yes, she absolutely meant it.

Obama, she said, was evil. Someone mentioned that Obama had visited a mosque, and had reported that Muslims were “good people.”

“Of course,” the ringleader said, “he would say that because he is a Muslim. Everyone knows that. He doesn’t go to church. He…is…a…Muslim.”

There was a pregnant pause while everyone pondered her pronouncement of “truth.,” but then the women got back to the other GOP candidates. With Trump being a little too over the top, and Rubio being in favor of keeping immigrants here and letting more come in, the only viable candidate, said the ringleader, with the other three women nodding their heads in agreement, was Ted Cruz.

“He is honest and loving and believes in the Constitution,” said Ringleader. “He is our only hope.” And then she said, quietly, “We have lost our beloved America. Our children’s children will never know the America we knew.”

Ah, the “give us our country back” sentiment took center stage. If Cruz could help bring sexism and racism back, and put all of the “isms” back in their places on the shelves of  American values, then he would have to be elected president. If Cruz could get rid of Obamacare with no thought of how millions who now have health care would feel or survive, then he would have to be elected president. If Cruz could make it so that police could have free reign with arresting and brutalizing people, then he would have to be president. If Cruz could get the military up and running like a good American military should run, and “bomb the hell out of ISIS,” as Donald Trump has said, then Cruz would have to be elected president.

I sat there, not surprised at what I was hearing, but a tad irritated that they talked so loudly so that everyone would have to hear their political discourses. They were bemoaning the threat they and many white Americans feel from forces larger than them and their remembrance of an America where bigotry and privilege went unchallenged. They were bemoaning the fact that being “politically correct” means respecting people of different religions (Islam) and colors and nationalities. They were tired of it. They wanted the voices of white people to be heard again, loudly and clearly, putting everyone and everything that wasn’t white in their proper places.

To heck with this being the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” They were not interested in living into that pronouncement and they sure were not interested in nurturing the American value called pluralism.

I heard that in their discourse. I don’t think I was wrong. I wish I were…

A candid observation…

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5 thoughts on “Wanting America Back

  1. I apologize for these women. Just know that not all of us feel this way! I love the plurality of a diverse nation. I have learned so much more from the people who appear to be unlike me…and have found we are more alike than different. I wish these women could have this experience.

    1. I do know that, Lyn. I know way too many people who have passed this stage of arrogance and ignorance; you are one of them. Just gotta keep on working to expose our underbelly, the part of America that is moist and wet from lying in the toxins called racism and white supremacy for too long. Keep praying with me …

  2. There were two things that caught my attention:

    1) the “give us our country back” sentiment took center stage… “help bring sexism and racism back, and put all of the “isms” back in their places on the shelves of American values”

    2) “They were bemoaning the threat they and many white Americans feel from forces larger than them and their remembrance of an America where bigotry and privilege went unchallenged. They were bemoaning the fact that being “politically correct” means respecting people of different religions (Islam) and colors and nationalities. They were tired of it. They wanted the voices of white people to be heard again, loudly and clearly, putting everyone and everything that wasn’t white in their proper places.”

    This observation that you have shared today certainly sounds to be “on-point”, as much as you may have wanted your observations to be vastly different than what you have observed.

    In my own lifetime I too have observed on many occasions over the years similar words and actions by people claiming to be well-intentioned. “Their good intentions” were disturbing and contrary to the sense of fairness taught to me by my own parents and grandparents who had experienced considerable and worse mistreatment in a number of ways.

    Once again, Thank You for making time to write an dfor sharing your thoughts.

    Sincerely,

    Raymond Sean Walters

  3. Dr. Sue, thank you for your comments. All I can say is…WOW! But what is being said by those All American Women is what many people in American truly think and believe. The insanity of it all is, none of those women know any of the people they are talking about. It seems that there was no research conducted to gain a better understanding of any one they were discussing, especially President Obama. Yet, they make vicious, ignorant, unfounded comments. There seems to be no interest in pursuit of the truth, equity and justice for all Americas. The comment they made that really frightens me and puts me into a survival defensive mode was, “we want America to be the way it use to be”.
    At the age of 72, as an African American male who has been discriminated and excluded in the USA as a US Air Force military soldier and a civilian executive employee…I am “Not” going back to the way it use to be. Either those ladies are naïve, ignorant or they just don’t care to uphold the principles set forth in the US Constitution.
    I would hope the views of those women remain in that restaurant at that table. How ever, I know that their views extend far beyond the table, restaurant and that suburban community. Thus, is my greatest fear and regret, America has a lot of additional work to do on Civil Right, Diversity, Human Dignity, Implicit Bias, Gender Inequity, Homophobic practices, and Blatant Racism. I “will not allow” those out dated societally ill beliefs, attitudes, policies, principles, laws, habits and practices to continue to exist in USA My Country. I spent 8 years in the military to protect and ensure that right. What ever it takes to ensure my children, grand children and my new great grand children will not be subjected to the discrimination, hatred and exclusion I was insulted and demeaned with, I am committed to do.
    This was one of the most effective articles I have reviewed that really identifies the challenges we are faced with in USA relative to current day race relations. It only stresses the fact that America is not living in a “post racial” America.
    James A. White Sr.

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful response. I can feel the passion nd determination in you NOT to allow the way America used to be to become front and center again. You are right; there is MUCH work to do. Not a single person who has been marginalized can afford to be quiet, still and uninformed. Thank you again for reading the piece and for offering your insight and perspective.

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