The Stuff People Say
One of the reasons I'm able to get along with a rather diverse range of people is that I consider myself intellectually conservative, personally moderate. Meaning, rather, that I'm willing to let people talk and have their views without getting in their face and screaming at them about mine. Sometimes I'll argue, but usually I don't think it's worth it.
Last weekend, as I was resting on a bench in my neighborhood, a somewhat older gentleman in his 50s paused at the same bench, and we got to talking. We got on the topic of energy, politics, what have you, probably due to gas prices, which have everyone spun up so badly these days. I can pretty much assure you that I did not start off the topic of politics--that's not the sort of thing one usually starts talking about with strangers, right? Anyhow, the guy started going off on a long rant about energy policy, how Carter was right about the 55 mph speed limit, how we all needed to use solar power, etc. In short, it was obvious which side of the fence he was on. I didn't really feel like an argument at that point in the day, so I just let him hold forth.
Then the conversation turned to politics, I think because the gentleman was trying to point out examples of politicians who were "progressive" and who supported the types of energy policies he wanted. He mentioned one here in Alabama who got into some sort of personal scandal on account of his drinking, philandering, what have you. He said that the congressman (senator?) in question was "too colorful" for this part of the country, so he got kicked out of office. He then started listing some other colorful politicians in the South--Huey Long, George Wallace, etc.--to which I threw in the name David Duke. Now one would think that a guy like Duke would immediately start off a completely different conversation about the evils of Duke, the GOP, the Ku Klux Klan, etc. One would be mistaken, however. The man said, "I'm not a member of the Klan, but..." And dear reader, the but would have gotten me fired or at least a firm talking-to had I said it on the job or in a large group of people, which I wouldn't because I don't believe it. The guy more or less said that he agreed with Duke on some things and admired his arguments and intelligence. "You know he's got a Ph.D., right?" (Yeah, sure. I just looked this up: Duke has a doctorate from a university in the Ukraine, of all places, and his doctoral thesis was titled, "Zionism as a Form of Ethnic Supremacism.” Maybe he should've gone to a university in the Palestinian Territories somewhere--he'd have gotten along great.)
I wanted to respond, "So the hell what, brother!? He belonged to the damned Klan! Doesn't that bug you the tiniest wee bit?" David Duke is often the kind of guy that liberals point to as a typical example of the racism, sexism, and homophobia that reportedly grips the Republican Party. And here I was, talking to an out-and-out liberal, hearing about how David Duke wasn't so wrong after all. Unbelieveable.