I have always loved Oregon. It’s gray, but green; rainy, but mild, and I grew up here. When the sun comes out over the windy gravel backroads, lined with wild irises or blooming wild apple trees or dense blackberry thickets, it’s homey in a way that mountains and oceans can never be to me. Everyone should be nice here.

At Samuel’s spring scrimmage game on Friday, as I stood on the sidelines, I heard a white college kid addressing a well-dressed older black man behind me. The college kid seemed intent on winning cool points; in any case, I heard him say, without much lead-up: “Republicans just want a Fuhrer they can get behind and march.” He then went on to detail how he was planning on becoming wealthy by using his special talents: being not very good at anything but knowing a little bit about everything.

Republicans are mindlessly marching on towards happily ever after? What about belligerent undergrads who think they’ve arrived at enlightenment because they can diss “the establishment” with the underdog — never mind that they can’t do much more than pass some general-studies tests in the establishment (government-funded second-tier schools for the poor and/or S.A.T-challenged). And what is this nonsense that a well-dressed black man needs the whiny approval of a college democrat, anyway; needs to be singled out as the underdog and sided with?

Skip to Saturday. I’m having lunch with a friend in Portland. We’re in a trendy bistro in the trendy Pearl district; Michal chats it up with local musicians who pass by on the street. She tells me that one of her customers, earlier that day, had handed her a deposit slip with the question: “you’re not a Republican, are you?”

“What if I was?” asks Michal.

“I don’t do business with Republicans,” the guy says, starting to get angry.

“Isn’t that discrimination?” Michal parries.

“I’m not discriminating on your race,” he retorts. (so, ok, you can hate someone for not holding the same views you do? Why get mad at Republicans in the first place, then? Their supposed staunch moral hatred is the main reason you’re dissatisfied with them, right?) Michal tries to calm him down; he proceeds to go on a rant. And note that she never said she was a Republican in the first place.

We finish our lunch and walk a few blocks to a brewery, where Samuel and dad are. Michal gets an Obsidian Stout; Sam gets a Porter. I drink water. I’m frugal and health-conscious; they’re cool.

6 thoughts on “Oregonians

  1. The title of this post is spelled mysteriously.

    The post itself is kind of mysterious, too. Lots of questions, not many answers.

    Maybe the mystery is the point.

    (In the Eastern Orthodox Church, instead of “sacraments,” they call them “mysteries.” But that’s another subject.)

  2. And Jeff,

    My answer, I suppose, is that neither Republicans nor Democrats should vilify one another on principle. First of all, it isn’t consistent (usually), and second of all, have some charity. Most often, people are angry about social injustice because there’s actually something wrong, not because they’re trying to make a mess of things just for the fun of it. For example: an unmarried teenager gets pregnant. She’s got no job prospects and no one to help her take care of a child, so a democrat might say: this is why we have reproductive rights– to keep two people from misery. Obviously! A republican might say: her baby shouldn’t be punished for what she’s done, so she should put it up for adoption if she doesn’t want it. Obviously! A nihilist might say: we’re all going to die anyway, it’s just a matter of when and how bad our lives are in the meantime. Obviously! And so on and so forth…

  3. That makes sense. It’s too bad that people spend so much time arguing over crude stereotypes of each other’s positions. It’s so easy to defeat a straw man!–except that when you do, you haven’t actually accomplished anything.

  4. You are awesome Katie, a rare person who truly wants equal accountability and nuance applied across the board.

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