The racism was probably always there, but he never came out with it until recently, and when he did it came out of the blue. A friend and fellow military veteran, a man I’ve known almost 20 years, a man I knew to be conservative but whom I always regarded as reasonable and intelligent, put up a post on Facebook a couple of months ago asking why Obama had never shown anyone his birth certificate. Last week he put up another post denouncing Hank Aaron, the venerated home run king, as a “brain-damaged libtard” for speaking out in support of Obama and comparing the modern-day GOP to the KKK.
When I engaged my friend the first time, pointing out that Obama had in fact shown the world both his short-form and long-form birth certificates, he reacted the way you’d think a reasonable person would, saying “Oh, really? Oops, sorry then.” I didn’t think he was entirely sincere, since how could any literate person who pays the slightest bit of attention to the news not know Obama had made his birth certificates public, but I let it go. If he was willing to listen to reason, there was hope.
The second time, after the Hank Aaron post, I was a little more blunt, asking him what the hell he was talking about. His answer was an inarticulate jumble of right-wing tropes: something something Republicans freed the slaves something racist southern Democrats started the KKK argle bargle libtards are the real racists herp derp Hitler was a leftist just like you.
Gotta give him this, he didn’t call Aaron a nigger, as so many right-wingers did when the 80-year-old Aaron — who was there during the days blacks were not welcome in major league baseball or anywhere else, a man who knows racism in a way you and I never will — spoke out. But you could tell he really wanted to.
He’s no longer my friend. I can abide conservatism, but I cannot abide racism and stupidity. I’m trying hard to hold onto the notion that it’s possible to be conservative without also being racist and stupid. But the deeper conservatives sink into their alternate Fox News reality, the harder it is to believe that.
Ending a friendship. Or, as they say on Facebook, unfriending. Big whoop. How impotent is that? I want to shout the bastard down, drive him off Facebook and Twitter, tell him he can’t sit at the table with the grownups, heap ridicule and shame upon him, lock him away in a FEMA camp.
Well, at least I won’t have to read any more of his hateful posts. That is something.