January 28th, 2009

self, raster

at the gas station

I was pumping gas for nomadraven and while I was standing there, minding my own business, a woman at the pump on the other side said to me, out of nowhere:

"Did you hear how Obama was on the Arab News station? ...Al-Jazeera."

I was a little caught off guard, but after a beat, I picked it up.

"Actually it wasn't Al-Jazeera, it was Al-Arabiya."

Now it was *her* that was caught off guard, although my tone wouldn't have indicated any such attempt, since in all fairness, her opening statement *could* have been neutral, after all. Well, that didn't last.

"We can't negotiate with terrorists."

Okay. I sort of expected this, but before I could get my words together, she proceeded.

"And this bailout? It's payback."

As she started to go down another line of disrespect for her nation's duly elected president, I responded.

"If every person who watches Arab television is a terrorist, then we have a lot bigger problems than the economy."

She demurred, copping out with a "Well, it's wait and see, buddy" as I moved over further to my side of the pump island. As she got into her car, she finished with "For national security, now we've got nothing."

What gets me about all this is not that she and people like her still think they are Right and still think they are the majority (although nothing else indicates this). Nor is it that people believe that Fox News tripe.

No, what gets me is why she chose to bring this up to me, a stranger, with no obvious political indications. And what way did she expect I would respond to her? Do I not look sufficiently hippie/Berkeley-radical anymore? Why did she seem so unprepared to get a minimally clever retort?

Why Dittoheads Fail, chapter one.