I was just stopping off to buy booze, as people often do around Christmastide (well, actually it was because I was aware of a sale price which was expiring at the end of the year). The state liquor store shares a parking lot with a couple of dubious-looking Asian restaurants, a guitar store and a shuttered location of Omaha Steaks. You could actually find a place to park on December 22nd.
Out in front of the dark Omaha Steaks storefront, he was leaning as if scrying into the bed of his pickup truck, looking neither to left nor right as he sucked his way through a cigarette, not very clean or kempt grey hair scraping his collar under a trucker hat. The dark-green pickup was engrossed along its sides and rear cab windows with large, meticulously handpainted lettering, red outlined in yellow outlined in blue (or turn about): “SYRIAN REFUGEES NOT WELCOME HERE.” “IMPEACH OBAMA SCREWED US OVER.”
I told myself I was already running late. By the time I got out of the state store, ashamed of being too chickenshit to start something and ready to speak, he had finished his cigarette and driven off. I just have to say it here.
My friend with the pickup truck, you grieve me. You make me ashamed for my country. You make me want to walk up and down European railway platforms and bus stations singing frightened Syrian children to sleep — and I don’t even like kids. You are the reason I now offer a social smile to any woman I pass who is wearing hijab — because every day I seem to read about a woman in a headscarf who is yelled at or spat on or run off the road by upstanding Americans just like you.
Yes, some terrorist might pose as a refugee. But since terrorists have posed as mail order brides, students, and other dodges a lot more comfortable and certain than joining asylum seekers in rubber boats or on cross-country treks — since we grow some pretty impressive terrorists right here, who blow up government buildings, bomb and shoot up clinics, or massacre prayer groups — why pick these people?
Of course, I wouldn’t be surprised if you call yourself a Christian. Explains so much, doesn’t it? I can see why it would be hard to wrap your mind around this. I mean, there’s nothing in the Christian stories about people fleeing danger in their native land and taking their children on an arduous journey to someplace strange and foreign.
Merry Christmas, and all.