Thursday, June 15, 2006

Moonbat Encounter

Yesterday morning I left my hotel room at about 5:30 AM, and headed for the Starbucks in the lobby — my usual routine on this business trip. I got my coffee and pastry, wandered over to a table, and proceeded to set up my laptop so I could read the news while I drank my coffee.

Sitting next to me was a slight man, perhaps in his late 20s or early 30s. He glanced at me once, then again, and gave me a sour sort of look. Over the next few minutes, he repeated this, looking more and more agitated and disturbed — and I was starting to wonder what sort of a nut I’d managed to choose a seat near. More about Ethel Merman, perhaps?

Finally this fellow couldn’t stand it, and he spit out a single word that apparently summed up everything he was feeling so intensely: “Fascist!"

Moi, fascist? There are many unkind things one could say about me and be perfectly accurate. Accusing me of being a fascist, though, would not be one of them.

Engaging with this guy (whom I was starting to think of as a full-on loony) didn’t seem like a particularly attractive option, but…I was very curious about why he labeled me as a fascist. So I asked him, very politely, “Why do you think I’m a fascist?"

In response, he nodded and glanced toward my chest. On my shirt I had a small pin of the American flag, something that’s been a normal piece of my business attire since shortly after 9/11. So I asked: “You think I’m a fascist because I have an American flag pin?"

And that set this guy off on a moonbat rant that lasted for a minute or so, non-stop, at the end of which he got up in disgust and (thankfully!) left. His voice started out low, but by the end of his rant he was quite loud, and several other patrons started to look a little worried. Most of his rant consisted of a string of assumptions, all derived in the end from my flag pin. I will not be able to recall them all perfectly, but the general gist of it was something like this: because I wear a flag pin, I must be a mindless, jack-booted, racist, UN-hating, rich Republican. Republicans are all low-IQ, pollution-loving, evil rapists who long ago corrupted representative democracy in America into its current form, where all policy is dictated by some combination of Karl Rove, Enron, and Exxon, which are all fascist organizations. Therefore I was clearly a fascist. Well, at least it was clear to him!

By the end of this rant, he was red in the face, yelling, spitting a bit, and had lost any semblance of control over his emotional state. He was really quite agitated when he left. And those two questions really are the only things I said to him to provoke this — well, that, and my unforgiveable sin of wearing an American flag pin.

From some perspectives, this was an amusing little interlude; a run-in with a nutjob that really had no larger meaning.

From a different perspective, though, it’s more disturbing — a window into a mindset fervently held, but so different than my own that I have a great deal of trouble comprehending it. A fellow citizen of this country, who believes, apparently, that any open expression of patriotism — love of my country — is something to be despised. A fellow citizen who seems to be convinced that he lives in the land of evil, with his life controlled by operatives of the devil and is totally out of his control.

That was yesterday morning. Now I’m about to go down to Starbucks again for this morning’s coffee. I wonder what awaits me there today?

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