Well, there was supposed to be a November 4 demonstration calling to impeach Trump and Pence at Republic Square Park today from 1 – 5 pm, but I was there from 12:45 to about 2:30 and there was pretty much nobody. One guy with a sign, everyone else could have just been there because it was a park. All in all maybe fifteen people were there at one time. No speakers, no nothing. I don’t know what happened.
About six Second-Amendment guys, armed to the teeth, with bullet-proof vests and helmets and whatnot show up at some point and talk briefly with two police officers, who respectfully shake their hands before walking off.
I approach the group and ask why they’re there.
To practice our Second-Amendment Rights, ma’am, and to help the police if we need to.
Help them do what?
Keep the peace.
But it’s already peaceful here. You’re the ones showing up with guns. You’re here to intimidate.
No ma’am, we’re not intimidating, we’re just well-prepared.
Prepared for what?
For Antifa. They attack us, it’s well-documented, and we’re here to protect ourselves and everyone if they show up. It’s our constitutional right to protect ourselves from enemies foreign and domestic.
So you’re big believers in the Constitution, huh?
Do you understand that there’s going to be a demonstration here because Trump does not uphold the Constitution? Because he does not respect the separation of powers?
From that moment on the guy just starts talking over me about Trump getting the economy going again, creating jobs, and that Antifa is the enemy, not they. I try a few more times to keep the focus on the Constitution and how Trump is trampling on it, but they just talk over it with nonsense. So in the end I lose it and call them fucking fascist idiots and walk off, steaming.
I sit down on a big rock and a black homeless man joins me. He stands up for the militia men, because they were just practicing their Second Amendment rights.
We talk for quite a while about Trump, the economy, healthcare, socialism, you name it, but again, it’s hard to talk because he, too, has a hard time taking turns talking and listening. He has all these conspiracy theories about the globalists and the Democrats who messed up black communities with welfare, and he doesn’t think this country is really all that racist and when a cop stops him on the street in a white neighborhood he understands and he’s just really polite and then they don’t hurt him. We disagree on every single thing, but we’re still having a friendly conversation, even though I have to work hard to get a word in.
Then another black homeless man approaches us, at first to ask for money, which neither of us have (I only have my credit card on me) and he joins the conversation. He is the total opposite of Opie (we introduced ourselves at some point before the other guy joined us): he feels that being black per definition gives every black person a disadvantage and white people owe the black community because of history and he is homeless because he refuses to have a job–he equates that with slavery.
So the two of them get into it, New Guy pretty much saying that Opie is an Uncle Tom (and I can’t disagree completely) and Opie saying that nobody owes him anything and nobody owes the white community anything, that everyone is responsible for themselves. When I have a chance, I argue that my white kids, with their private school educations and after-school acting and film classes, definitely have a huge head start compared to poor black kids in the Bronx, that even if they feel responsible for themselves, they’re always going to start at the back of the line. New Guy agrees and adds that even in the black community, people are racist, based on how light or dark-skinned they are, instead of all being brothers. (He’s very dark-skinned.)
Then Opie says his parents were wealthy folks in Nigeria and that some of his brothers who had everything handed to them ended up being bums, and that sometimes having a hard start makes you tough. Upon hearing that, New Guy, missing the point or not caring about it, rips into Opie for being Nigerian (he isn’t–he was born here) and coming to this country and thinking he knows everything even though his people didn’t have The Struggle.
In reality they’re both talking and eventually shouting at the same time, not letting the other finish making his point, and meanwhile my head’s just spinning from the fact that these two black homeless men are both in the same situation and yet so diametrically opposed, and from the fact that New Guy just complained a few sentences ago that black people discriminate among themselves instead of having a sense of solidarity, and then turns right around and disses Opie for his Nigerian background. New Guy walks off, disgusted, and Opie goes off in the opposite direction, for some reason suddenly angry at me too, now. I call after him that I enjoyed our conversation anyway, and then head back to the parking garage.
On the way home I just wanted to cry. I learned a new word related to all this yesterday: epistemology ,the branch of philosophy that deals with what we know or what we think we know and how we can tell what’s true and false. Nobody listens to one another; people throw about these conspiracy theories and lies, some because it suits their purposes, others even though it hurts them. We’re all living in different universes, sometimes colliding clumsily and then bouncing away again, each of us staying in our own bubbles. I really don’t know how you would fix this apart from demanding that something has to actually be a fact if you present it as such in the public sphere, and that otherwise you have to publicly correct it, like in Every. Reasonable. Country!
Now I just want to scream, and since that’s not an option (the kids are home), I think I’ll try some meditation and then a few hours of mindless Netflix-watching.