Thought I'd share a conversation I had yesterday. We were attending a "special" birthday party at the birthday boy's country manse; for the purposes of this annecdote, I'll call him Sam. At one point well into the proceedings, Sam's cousin, a 70ish cousin of his from the States, rushed up to me, very excited.
"Sam tells me you're a major liberal activist," she said.
My first instinct was that she was joking, since Sam, who is of the same political bent as me, would never so describe me. My second instinct was that Sam, who can be a bit of a joker himself, thought it might be funny to so describe me to his leftist American cousin.
"I don't know about the 'major,'" I said. "But I'm definitely not 'liberal'. So I guess, maybe, you could call me a 'conservative' activist. You know--pro-Israel, anti-jihad, anti-anti-Semitism."
The "c" word didn't seem to phase her; in fact it hardly seemed to register.
"I was an activist, too," she said. "Back in the 60s I worked for civil rights."
"A worthy cause," I said. We chit-chatted for a bit about Jews, American and Canadian, and their tendency to vote liberal (and Liberal) no matter what, until we arrived at the point of the conversation I always dread reaching with someone on the other side of the political fence: ObamaTime.
"Those Tea Partyers and rednecks--they hate Obama because he's black! They're so....racissst," she hissed.
What I wanted to say was, "Lady, I bet you've never had a conversation with a 'redneck' or a Tea Partyer in all your born days. I bet for all your self-regard, the legacy of having worked for 'civil rights' back in the 60s, you never once considered that voting for someone largely on the basis of his (black) skin colour is actually another form of 'racism'. It's obvious to me you haven't even the first clue about the people that you hate, yes, hate--what motivates them, what moves them, and why they might abhor what Obama is doing to your country and to the world, stuff that has squat to do with the discernable presence of melanin." I very much wanted to say all of the above, but, under the circumstances, it would not have been appropriate. Instead, I smiled sweetly, extended my hand, and said, "It was very nice meeting you."
Later as we were saying our goodbyes, I asked Sam about his calling me a 'major liberal activist'.
"I never said 'liberal,'" he said. "I said you were a 'major activist'."
To me that was even funnier than the (non)-prank. Obviously, what had happened was that hearing the words 'major activist,' the leftist cousin leapt to the conclusion that I must be a 'liberal,' since what else but 'liberal' could a 'major activist' possibly be? The notion that you could construct a phrase (or an ethos) incorporating the words 'conservative' and 'activist' was so far out of her realm of possiblity that it would never--could never--have occurred to her.