After strolling around town on a day off work last Monday afternoon with Liam, we walked into my flatmate Gete’s bar and wound up having a few drinks and meeting up with Davie for a couple more. At that point a lumpy man with a tired perm, who I had indiscernibly mistaken for his friend’s wife, took the weight off his oestrogen laden thighs and sat down before us asking with an American drawl where the bathrooms were. He was from Florida from a town he called ‘Death’s waiting room’. He ordered a Talisker (on the rocks) and began to discuss his dinner from the night before. He had haggis served to the sounds of bagpipes played by men in tartan. We quipped of its absolute authenticity and traditionalism and he asked if we were Scottish. Saying aye, we proceeded to chat for a bit and he told us he was off to Glasgow for a month long trip. We made a tired jibe about spending so long in the rough and tumble of Glasgow but he assured us he was packing a glock so he wasn’t going to have much trouble. We didn’t want to indulge his masculine insecurities so cracked some jokes instead. Then with a note of pride he announced his political leanings and like boxers thrust into the ring, suddenly our chests were puffed and we were ready to go a few rounds.
‘Will I need a bullet proof vest when I go then?’
‘Ach, it’s their words that’ll hit you hardest so that’d be a waste of time’
I’ll pack a grenade just in case
That might get you served at the bar quickly but I wouldn’t bother.
It’s an alright place?
It’s a nice place, aye.
And so they’ll even accept a Trump voting American like me?
Ding fucking ding
‘Does Donald Trump support welcoming people into places?’
‘What he supports is fixing our country after the mess the last guy left it in. And he’s passed more legislation than any other president in history.’
What has he passed?
He cut Obamacare and now I get to simplify my tax code. It used to be six feet long! Plus, he’s draining the swamp.
So you’re getting to fill out a slightly smaller… sheet of… paper, sorry, what?..
-What has he cleaned out?
He’s getting rid of the elites, he’s not one of them. He’s trying to clean the place up. He’s a businessman, he’s cutting deals. You would have rather had HER in charge?
Criticising Trump doesn’t mean supporting Clinton man, there’s more ways to view the world. And what about these deals, they’re in the interests of everyone?
They certainly are. He’s fighting to protect the working man.
And how about those people running from wars getting turned back at borders, he’s working for them?
We’re letting the good guys in and keeping the bad guys out, we’ve got to get a check on these people. Do you believe in open borders?
Ha! What are you going to do when the arabs and muslims start coming in?
Nothing mate, absolutely nothing, what’s wrong wi’ muslims?
– Aye what’s wrong wi’ muslims?
Well, you want sharia law? You want this place to have sharia law? That’s what those people are trying to do and we’ve got to know whose coming in to stop that.
How many muslims do you know preaching sharia law? You ever met anyone plotting this or do you not think maybe people are just trying to live their lives?
Well, the ones I’ve met are nice but there are others coming and abusing people over here. You want your wives, girlfriends, daughters getting raped and assaulted like is happening in Norway and Sweden?
What you’re talking about happened in Germany and was exploited and manipulated to demonise young Middle Eastern and Syrian men who are running from the people that you’re so scared of coming near you.
-They’re trying tae get away from that!
-Maybe you should be more scared of the abuse of women on American campuses and in American culture, violence is everywhere and not contained to one people.
You guys are crazy, do you not see they’re taking over? They’ve even got no go zones in Europe now like in Paris.
We were in one of these ‘no go’ zones last year in Brussels. There was no issue pal, we were fine. We walked around and hung about with folk, there was nothing no go about it.
*A moment of quizzical reflection*
Then why do they call them no go zones?
Aye, mate, why do they? Don’t you see the manipulation of what’s going on here? You’re being turned against people you don’t know anything about.
The way you guys are talking, you’re going to grow up praying four times a day, practicing Ramadan.
Nae worries. You’re living in fear and falling for shite. Where are you getting these ideas from?
A pause as nothing is said and seemingly nowhere left to go.
Well, good night gentlemen.
After being plied with stouts by Gete, it was hard for the mind to keep up with the tongue and our answers were coming out like scatterguns. As we heard these ridiculous opinions we felt justified in our aggression but it became clearer to me later that though this desire to smite these views made us feel pretty good, acting so defiantly maybe wasn’t going to help make these divisions any better.
He was brazen when he talked about owning a pistol but all that masked was an utter bewilderment of the world. He had no clue of the lives of others and so in living in this way, he would alway remain clueless to the beautiful textures that make up the diversity of humanity. He couldn’t even go to a country and drink a nice whisky without bastardising it from his cultural closet. He was a scared puppy who had no idea how lost he was. His confused feelings of superiority and exceptionalism were really his isolating inferiorities.
For the most part, the man was friendly and jovial and not innately a bad person, just as we tried to explain to him that people from other parts of the world aren’t either. It was confusing watching a fascist spout such hate then catching glimpses of the ignorant innocence inside of them. You didn’t now whether to punch them or hug them. And when these lost puppies are packing heat it makes things dangerous but to not engage would be to fall for the same trappings of fear that they live by.
I would have liked to have added at the end that he would be fine in Glasgow because there was enough people there who were welcoming and would be friendly even to sheltered off bigots like himself. I would have liked to have extended this idea of welcome from myself as what I got from this interaction was that our lives were in essence much more enlightened than his. His arguments collapsed against countless numbers of our own personal experiences and through these moments of openness we’ve met people he never will because of the fear he holds onto. Ideas of right or wrong fall down, our quality of life is better than his. If we want to help improve the lives of those who are oppressed, maybe that should be extended to the lives of those whose views disgust us as well. People like him let fear of others impinge on their lives. It feels like there is a responsibility to not let a fear of people like him and his views impinge on ours. But doing that, whilst still standing up to these views is a very hard balance to strike.