Perspective from the front lines

I had a bit of an argument with a liberal friend of mine the other day. She was confused over comments Ammon Bundy had made toward President Trump the other day.

I asked her why she was confused. I did not expect her response.  ***Please keep in mind, while you read my summation below, that although I disagree with her almost completely, I am not claiming that there isn’t validity to her view or that my own conclusions are without flaw.***

She was confused because people on the right usually don’t come across as sympathetic.  They don’t usually care about people…
She then explained a bit later that after reading some comments from others that she understood better what was confusing her.  Ammon Bundy wasn’t being sympathetic, he was defending his self-interest.  You see, as a rancher/farmer, Ammon knows that the industry as a whole has often benefited from legal and illegal migrant labor.  As such, his comments weren’t meant to be caring, but rather they were to ensure that that we have access to very cheap labor.  What’s more, his father has made some very racist comments in the past.  Add to that his occupation of a Federal building and what you really have is just an all around piece of shit just looking out for himself.  His words meant nothing.

This response surprised me, as I mentioned before.  I didn’t expect it, coming from her.  She’s educated, capable of critical thinking, and honestly, comes from a diverse enough background that I hadn’t expected her to pigeonhole somebody so quickly.  Having faced a lot generic assumptions and discrimination being applied to her, I assumed she’d be aware of when she applied it to others.

People on the right don’t usually display sympathy…

That assertion distressed me.

They’ve become, “Those people”.  A group, a label.  A name to which disgust, derision and dismissal are applied.  The words they say no longer matter because of the group they belong to.  Even when the words say something worth paying attention to, represent a political even worth noticing, it doesn’t matter.  Because, “Those people.”  The irony hits like a brick and hurts worse.

We are, perhaps, even more divided than I thought.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I also recognize that her response was not born out of something that developed quickly.  She didn’t wake up one day ready to discount a good 50% of Americans.  Rather, she has surrounded herself with a bunch of similar thinking people.  She found her community, a place and group from which she can self-identify.  Her posts almost always represent or reflect a minority view, a small slice of a much larger whole.  When you are so focused on the perspective of a smaller group of people, especially those that are most certainly oppressed, repressed and actively discriminated against, it’s hard not to view those who think differently that you as, “Those people.”  She is still part of a marginalized group of people, but she no longer fights for human rights and freedoms, she fights for her people against the enemy.  Her perspective, over time, has changed as she fights for validation and belonging with other like minded souls.  War is Hell.

By Dan Granot

I chose the Shorter Whitman because of his work, "Song of Myself" and because of my self-deprecating sense of humor. I am under no illusion that I can write successful essays or poetry, but I have been known to write them anyway.

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