Today the two doors leading into Newburyport’s busiest supermarket were disgraced by tables nearby with the clipboard petitions of people soliciting signatures.
A man at each repeated those two words as often as he could in a spiel about stopping a law that has to do with the issuance of drivers’ licenses in Massachusetts. The two men stepped toward approaching shoppers as they spoke while a woman seated at each table with more petitions, empty or full, cheered them on.
Those roles may have been reversed from time to time throughout the day for the sake of vocal chords if not feet. They were loud, and two words, repeated no less than every ten seconds, no matter the sense of the sentence, were emphatically loud:
Took me by surprise. Newburyport?
The place wasn’t all that busy, and I was grateful that the few folks I saw go past them paid no attention. Me? Couldn’t resist:
“What would Jesus do?”
At first they didn’t know what to make of it, but when I kept walking with no move to sign, they must have realized that they had just “owned a lib” or “pissed off a libtard” or whatever their low-life expression is of late. And so they shared a laugh behind me.
On the way out, I was tempted to ask where they would be the next morning, a Sunday morning. Will they be at the doors of Catholic and Protestant churches filling the air before and after worship with “illegal aliens”? Are they so stupid that they’d take this crap to a synagogue? Would the contradiction even register on them? Or is there a separation of the Sermon on the Mount from their Sermon at the Mart?
No, I did not waste the time. And I left through the other door where the other couple was engaged with shoppers. One was signing. I looked over at the first table. A few shoppers there as well, one signing. A lot of talk, all of it punctuated by two words that rang aloud at both tables:
Couldn’t help but note that everyone at both tables, shoppers and petitioners, was of Caucasian decent, as am I. Chances are that they all have grandparents or great-grandparents or ancestors further back, who arrived in America as immigrants, as did mine. By the definitions of their own slurs, their own ancestors were “aliens,” nor were they legally here until they had been processed through customs–a process that most everyone they call “illegal” has either been through or is going through.
But doesn’t “illegal aliens” sound so much more menacing than “undocumented immigrants awaiting naturalization”?
The sight of shoppers, mostly middle-aged, some elderly, signing those hate-sheets was demoralizing. No telling how many are well-intentioned folk fooled by the slur or how many are racists grateful for yet another excuse to express it without admitting it. Surely, none of them realize the implied denunciation of their own ancestors.
Don’t know what their deadline is to submit signatures, or if I’ll see them and hear their slurs again. But, if so, I will sign. They want a name? Oh, I’ll give them a name! Not going to give it away right now, but my initials will be IA.