Friday, November 4, 2011

FTT Off Topic: When Diversity Hits Home

As always with FTT Off-Topic, It's A Big Damned Internet and This Isn't Going To Be About Sports. Bail or don't, but don't complain.

So my wife and I are helping the eldest with her writing assignment for sixth grade English tonight; five sentences about diversity. As a German/Irish mutt, I'm all for it. Neither of my people have anything I want to eat in a month of Sundays, and as someone who rarely has a big problem with change (it's constant, so embrace it and try a bunch of different stuff), I don't much care if there's more Spanish voicemail or French on the packaging or places where I don't feel as if everything has been tailored to my comfort. It's a big danged country, really, and the things I get worked up about aren't about Taking My Country Back; as far as I'm concerned, it's never really been set up for people like me anyway, since I come from, well, people who work, rather than inherit. The jobs that I've lost out to minority hires in this life (and there have been a few) are ones that, in retrospect, I'm really glad I didn't get, and as the great comedian Louis CK has said, if you aren't white, you are really missing out. No complaints; none ever. (Warning: profanity.)

So, diversity; yay. Besides, gives me more things for the spank tank, if you are catching my drift, and I think you are. We work up the paper, get it printed out and set aside with the books for school tomorrow, and all is well. The job even finishes early enough for me to get to my local gym before it closes, which is something I do to prevent becoming an utter fat ass. The power of New Year's resolutions: I'm hitting on most of them, and it was a big list.

So as I'm leaving my gym tonight, I brush past one of those guys outside my gym that make working out in public such a mixed bag. He looks like he should be ringside at an indie wrestling card, and that's not a compliment; bleached blonde mullet, irony-free facial hair, puffed older guy who works out a little too much face, smoking and talking loudly enough to some other similar meathead that my Invisibility powers flare up. (I'm 5'3" and 140 pounds; I can get pretty damned invisible when I have to.) They could be drunk, roided up, methy; all kinds of bad juju is just pouring off him. And I'm almost past both of them when I see it.

The Nazi armband, bold as brass, out for all to see, on Mr. Mullet's bicep. Wow.

And I don't stop, of course; they are 400+ pounds of dumb meat and I am not. They have the right to whatever they want to wear, assuming public decency rules are not flouted; I believe in the First Amendment, and your clothing choices are, indeed, a form of expression / speech, and that should be free. On some level, you only wear that crap in public to get a rise out of people, so I don't want to feed the trolls. Diversity, whether you agree with it or not. I get home without incident, and question whether or not I should have created one. After all, when good men remain silent, and all that...

And yet. And yet.

This happened a half a block from my house; the same house that, in the 5.5 years that I've lived in it, has depreciated in value by about $15K a year despite significant improvements. I'm going to be living here for, in all likelihood, the next 15 to 20 years. I like my neighborhood; it's walkable for a lot of things, I know a number of my neighbors at this point, and my kids play in the front and back yards on more or less of a daily basis. The last thing we need is a bunch of freaking racist losers driving down the property values even lower than they already are, or making me uncomfortable in my own home, or unable to invite my multi-ethnic poker and fantasy sports friends over without wondering if there's going to be Trouble.

And yet. Diversity, right? Tolerance, and hearing the other side, and using it all to teach your kids that the world is a complicated place, and that people are free to believe whatever hateful dead-end thing they want to believe...

But having it happen a half a block from my home? Let's just say that's something of a test... and not one that I'm sure that I passed. After all, it's 2+ hours later, and it's still in my head.

Which means they won, right?

1 comment:

CMJDad said...

Yep, they won. And people say I'm intolerant. Don't worry though, it really is human nature to be put off like that.
It is interesting how different things trigger people. I see pants hanging down past the ass and feel pretty much the same as you about a single Swastika. Don't get fried, I know the meaning of the Swastika and all (droopy pants never killed six million people....), but pisses me off.

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