My husband and I had breakfast with another couple on Saturday morning. I have long loved and respected these people—we worked together years ago—and they’d never met my husband, so I was delighted to show him off. On the way to the restaurant, though, I reminded Gerry: “No politics, honey. We just can’t talk politics.”
You see, my old friends are (let’s be frank, shall we?) crazed Trump supporters. I’d always known they were conservative (and I am not); I’d put up with my friends saying, in a mock shocked tone of voice, “You mean you want to pay more taxes?” for years.
But recently (in the last three or so years), they’d become one of that group of evangelical Christians who staunchly—no matter how awful the tweet—support and defend Trump. They’d become shrill. They’d become, even, nasty and mean in their defense of him.
I’d thought we could have breakfast and have a laugh. Yet within fifteen minutes, one of them was asking Gerry what he thought of Brexit. Harmless enough, you’d think. But Gerry’s Irish, Brexit will affect Ireland dramatically, and Gerry has followed Brexit news closely. My friend interrupted. “England is being swamped by people who have no respect for its ancient culture,” he said. Gerry snorted: “England had no respect for Irish culture for eight hundred years! And let me remind you,” he said, “England had such a labor shortage in the 1950s after the war that they encouraged emigration from elsewhere in the commonwealth, such as Jamaica.”
My friend was surprised—history isn’t his strong suit, apparently—but undaunted. He widened his cultural reflections to include Europe, which has, he said, accepted all those immigrants who “want to establish Sharia law”—yes, he actually said that—when in fact, these immigrants are often fleeing from Sharia laws. This went on and on. It covered every hot-button Trump-zealot issue you can imagine—and perhaps some you can’t. My friends were also incensed that Sikhs—if they should pass the notoriously grueling RCMP entrance process—can wear wear turbans as a Mountie.
Finally, my husband told them that they were advocating racial cleansing, and that this sounded racist to us. He kicked me under the table, we ended our meal, and left—a little shaken and relieved to be gone. We’re too old to put up with such ugliness.