I don't usually write about politics on this blog. I try not to.
But this morning, like so many mornings, I went swimming at the Y. After I was done, one of the women I often see at the pool entered the locker room with a bee in her bonnet. She often arrives with a bee in her bonnet. She usually blames it on Obama.
Today was no exception. Can you believe it? she asked me. Obama wants to let all the Muslims into our country.
I ignored her, and she kept talking. This is the way we often relate. She knows I disagree with her. We’ve had conversations before.
Do you know in Israel they profile people. They racially profile them. That’s why Israel is safer. You know Israel is safe, don’t you? We should profile people, too. But thanks to Obama, we don't do that.
I still didn’t say anything. She kept talking and talking. By this time a few other women were joining in with a variety of anti-Obama views.
But this one lady kept directing comments at me. You think I’m racist? she finally asked. She folded her arms and stared at me.
I paused. I didn’t want to engage. But she was demanding a response. So I finally said,
What do you want me to say? I mean, take the question of profiling. I think we are all profiling all the time. But who do you profile? I, for example, am much more likely to profile the white male because I’ve had three frightening experiences with white men—one in a parking lot, one when running on a back country road, and one when bicycling. They happened ages ago, but I am still always looking back in parking lots and country roads. I never feel entirely safe. I resent the men who make me afraid.
When I read the news, I see white men as the perpetrators of many crimes. White men like Timothy McVeigh. Like Adam Lanza. Like George Zimmerman. I think—I might be wrong—but most of the gunmen who enter schools and movie theaters and other public places in this country are white. But that doesn’t mean to me that white men are more dangerous. Or that the danger is race specific. I know, despite my experience and prejudice, that psychopaths come in all colors and religions. I think terrorists are psychopaths. They are like members of the KKK. I don’t think Obama can get rid of them, any more than Bush could or Putin can.
As to the question of racist, I think it’s the way the world is. We categorize people. We make some into enemies. We blame others. But just because someone looks like us doesn’t mean they are.
The woman looked at me and blinked. Can you help me with my goggles? she asked.