Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Myth of Racial Discord

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

– George Bernard Shaw

When watching the network and cable news shows (which are largely unwatchable), do you ever get the feeling that media elites are living in an alternate universe? Their "reporting" on President Trump, "white nationalism," and "racism" is bizarre and completely foreign to my personal experience.

Take "racism"--please. I grew up in a white-bread suburban East coast neighborhood and never interacted with a black person until I went away to college. We did fine, my black dorm-mates and I; in fact, they used to borrow my Smokey Robinson albums. When I moved to the West coast nearly 40 years ago, my neighborhoods were homogenized microcosms of Asian, Hispanic, and African-American cultures. I've never had an issue with any of my neighbors.

In fact, I've had the same next-door neighbors for over 30 years now. To the right of my house lives an African-American couple who I describe as the best neighbors I've ever had. Our kids played together while growing up. They watch my house while I"m away, bring me gifts from their vacations, and invite me to many of their family events. We are completely comfortable in each other's company. They vote Democrat; I vote Republican. So we tread lightly, if at all, on political topics. That is no matter to us, as there are so many other interesting and fun subjects to discuss.

To the left of my house is my Vietnamese neighbor, also for more than 30 years. We have been through so much together as neighbors and friends, and nowadays we support each other as widows forging our own paths in the world. She routinely cooks delicious Asian food for me and my family. When I'm invited to her feast-like Chinese New Year dinners, I bring along a baked dessert. Like most Vietnamese people I know, she is a conservative. Asians understand the dangers of socialism as Americans simply can't--for they have survived its crushing oppression.

My hair stylist is also Vietnamese. I've gone to her for many years, and I look forward to our chats while she works. She too is a widow; her police officer husband died in his 40s. She is also a diehard conservative Trump supporter, so we can talk politics freely.

Two doors down from my home is a delightful young Filipino couple with two beautiful little daughters. He takes my trash bins off the street while I'm at work, does small maintenance jobs for me, and keeps an eye on the property when I'm away. Needless to say, all of these neighbors are considered good friends and are on my Christmas shopping list.

My oldest chronological friend (since age ten) is Jewish. We grew up next door to each other and remain close friends, even though living on opposite coasts. We spent an hour on the phone one night this week, just catching up on life and family news. Today I'll have lunch with another Jewish friend of over 20 years. She has been there for me at my darkest times and is very dear to me.

At work, my best office buddy is a lovely woman whose parents were both legal immigrants from Mexico. She is a Trump enthusiast, and her political views are more conservative than my own (media machine, take note: Hispanic conservatives abound!). We talk about our grandchildren, bring each other little gifts, and support each other through the workday. She helps me with my Spanish, which I'm working to improve since my grandson is in a bilingual immersion program at school. On the subject of family, I have a Pacific Islander daughter-in-law who is part Chinese; I love her like I do my own daughter.

In relationships, I have lived by one rule that has served me well: If someone is good to me and mine, they are fine. Race, creed, color, nationality, ideology do not matter to me if one is kind and respectful, which I always try to be to other people. So it's impossible for me to accept the idea that, because I support President Trump's policies, I'm a "racist," a "white nationalist," or "deplorable." None of the friends described above would categorize me as such. And, quite frankly, I'm sick of the false accusations.

What is truly "deplorable" is that differences in world views are no longer tolerated on the left. That way lies totalitarianism. The drive to demonize all conservatives as "racist" is not only an evil undertaking. It is a lie, as the diversity among the friends of my life proves. The myth of racial discord is promulgated by the leftist media to divide Americans in order to advance their progressive agenda.

But I believe there are too many of us who, like me, know--and live--the truth. Regardless of our backgrounds, beliefs, or origins, we are all Americans--and we stand together.