Somebody who lives around here described me as one last summer. What about me is thuggish?
Before I get to that let me go into a bit of my background, and what brought me to being called “liberal thug.”
I haven’t felt completely comfortable protesting (kvetching or complaining, really). I have thought my being Jewish in the South has made me feel like a permanent guest rather than a resident who has as much a right as anybody else to state my opinions.
I own a home, pay taxes, and contribute to the community in some small ways. All this should make me feel very comfortable and not scared to be me.
Eight years ago I left “the bubble” or the Upper West Side of Manhattan in search of a simpler life. Prior to that, I lived right off Fifth Avenue on East 63d Street for many years. (Rent stabilized one room with kitchen apartment–paid very little for rent).
I loved New York but in order to live the life I wanted to live I needed to live somewhere that was both affordable and I could have my own outdoor space.
How did I end up in a small beach city where most people are Christian, and religion plays an increasingly large part in many people’s lives?
I usually say that I have friends here, and I do. They’re summer people, and the wife is Hispanic with multi-racial children. She loves it for the incredible beaches but found herself increasingly uncomfortable. I can’t say how many times her car has been pinged because of the Obama sticker. A few years ago her gorgeous granddaughter got out of the car and was immediately called names by a group of rednecks. Or maybe they were just white men having fun.
Skin color matters.
I usually say that we’re one nation and religion doesn’t matter. But having lived in the New York bubble all my life with a pit stop in Cambridge what did I know about America?
I have made good conservative evangelical friends. But they’re the people who think outside the box, and even then we differ on big fundamentals such as abortion.
Every year as religion became more and more important I felt less and less comfortable. People went out of their way to make me feel included but when I go to a public event such as a 9/11 memorial and there are crosses I feel excluded. It’s hard for people to understand that.
It’s hard for people to understand that I consider myself as patriotic as they are but the American flag doesn’t give me goose-bumps; I wish almost any song but “The Star Spangled Banner” was the national anthem, and I support Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to salute. There I said it.
Sad because I was a kid who thought (so help me) “God Bless America” was one of the greatest songs ever; Yankee Doodle Dandy was my favorite childhood movie. I don’t know how many times I have seen it, but I still know parts of it by heart.
I was born to be a patriot. I think I am. But here where 9/11 is called “Patriots Day” patriotism is measured differently and I can’t get used to it.
People tell me that I’m not patriotic; that I can’t be a sensitive person, or love my country because I speak out loudly on Facebook. Where I come from that’s a mark of a patriot. Not speaking out on Facebook but speaking out, protesting.
My father was born in an apartment without a toilet. He began college with both basketball and math scholarships. As it was the Depression he had to go to school at night and work during the day. Eight years later he graduated and became a CPA. But he hated that title. We were instructed to call him an accountant.
The real point is that nobody helped him. He did it on his own. There was no secret society of Jews that gave him money, gave him college credits while he didn’t do any work. He worked very hard for both that degree and the five-part CPA test.
My father and I had many differences. He believed in the Viet Nam War; he loved Nixon and idolized Reagan. Still I loved and respected him. He loved that I cared so much about issues even if I disagreed with almost everything he said.
My family accomplished the American Dream and I want that opportunity for everyone. Skin color, ethnicity, religion–none of that should matter. We’re a diverse country, and we should be proud to be diverse.
We should be proud to come from different religions. I’m told that by putting political posts on Facebook I can’t see the beauty in life—what one has to do with the other I will never know. I’m told that I’m negative for putting the posts in. On the contrary, that’s positive. By wanting change I want my country to be better.
I’m told that I can’t be a sensitive person because I’m so “loud.” Again I don’t see what being sensitive has to do with wanting America to continue “giving” people health insurance, affordable housing and college, and so much more.
Why is it OK, even good for people to put in bible passages? Letters from ministers? Instructions on how to vote or sometimes not to vote given by a pastor?
What makes one religion superior to another? Numbers of Americans who belong to one religion? How can numbers mean anything when so many of my people, Jews, were killed and/or not let into this country? Why should every Muslim live in fear when so few should be feared?
So if people are going to call me a “liberal thug” and I will never understand where the “thug” came in, I will wear that title as a badge of honor.
We have only just begun to fight–verbally as most of us do believe in gun control.
Gun control matters.