About nice, friendly white supremacists…

I’m of several minds about the controversial New York Times piece on the friendly neighborhood white nationalist racist prick. I recognize that the article did go a long way toward “normalizing” his behavior, though I think it stopped short of being an apologia. That said, I also believe that there is some validity in demonstrating that racist nutjobs can be your neighbors and can seem like “nice people” until you learn what they really stand for. And I think there is a significant part of the population that doesn’t realize this.

I’ve written about Oleene before. She lived right across the street from me and seemed to many people to be a very nice lady, a good Christian, and the kind of person you’d want watching your kids during the day. But as one of the kids she watched, I realized that she was not a nice lady at all. She was horrible. She said things about people of color that make my skin crawl to this day; these were awful, hateful, and — in retrospect — violent things. She was a despicable human being and, despite having known her since childhood, I couldn’t make myself attend her funeral when she died. I used to try to excuse her, but by the time she died, I didn’t feel any sense of loss at all.

But yeah, she seemed like a sweet little Christian lady until she started talking about anyone who was different from her. And ultimately, it wasn’t just people of different races or ethnicities. Not surprisingly, I never quite fit the mold of what she thought a boy should be interested in. I wanted to read and draw and use my imagination and learn things. She constantly pushed me to go outside, pick up a ball, and act like the other boys and stop being so “silly.” She minimized and ridiculed everything that mattered to me. She made me think there was something wrong with me, and I grew to hate her for it. As I’ve also said before, Oleene and the “moral” evangelical hypocrites at Vandalia Christian School are two of the main factors in my transformation from Bible-toting child to atheist adult. Suffice to say, none of these folks provided me with a model that was in any way “Christlike” no something I could imagine dedicating my life to.

The point here, though, is that she just seemed to blend in with the neighborhood, and I don’t think anyone ever really exposed her or called her on her bullshit (except maybe me, when I hit my rebellious years). She was an evil, hateful person who wrapped her nastiness in a cute wrapper of Christian belief and Southern sweetness. And she’s not alone. In fact, there are a lot of her around. And they, like Tony Hovater, need to be exposed. The Times may not have done so in the best way possible. Someone should.

When I’m 64 (or 74 or 84)…

Ten resolutions for the senior citizen version of me:

  1. I will retain some sense of urgency in my life. When in line at a restaurant or store, I will recognize that even though I may have no schedule or pressing commitments, the people behind me probably do.
  2. I will not retire without having some idea of what I will do with my time. (I don’t think this will be a problem.)
  3. I will enthusiastically purchase a hearing aid when and if I need one. Fuck vanity.
  4. I will not become a racist, right-wing nutjob (i.e. an evangelical Republican).
  5. I will try to avoid ever thinking that 4:45PM is the ideal time for dinner.
  6. I will not discuss my excretory functions with anyone but healthcare providers.
  7. I will have some fucking dignity and not chase after boys in their twenties.
  8. As long as I am able, I will continue to travel alone.
  9. I will continue to appreciate new and interesting music and media, and I will not complain that all culture came to an abrupt end when I was 25.
  10. I will not watch “Wheel of Fortune.”

Feel free to comment on my success (or lack thereof) in ten, twenty, or thirty years.

Providence…

…is that rare city that neither disappointed me nor exceeded my expectations in any way. It was pretty much exactly what i expected: very cute and a little dull. it was good to see it, but I feel no compelling desire to return soon. Interestingly, the “what it might be like to live here” curiosity I get in so many cities never quite hit with Providence.

Random thoughts:

  • I actually had trouble understanding a few people here, which is unusual for me.
  • This hotel (which I did not book nor pay for myself)  is a grand triumph of style over substance. It tries so hard to be all hipsteriffic and trendy that it ultimately just ends up being uncomfortable and dysfunctional (and overpriced). I’m sure some people would love it. I am not one of those people. And what the fuck is the appeal of rain shower heads? To their credit, though, the staff is great.
  • I could have done without the extra, unplanned night, though American Airlines did foot the bill.
  • Why would someone pay $35 for a cab from the airport to downtown when there’s a $2 express city bus?
  • Everything really is close to everything else in Rhode Island.

Exploring

Having spent four lovely days in the warm and fuzzy embrace of Toronto, I’m now exploring Kitchener-Waterloo. I spent a few hours here several years ago, and I decided I would come back for a couple of days at some point. That point has arrived.

A few initial impressions that I may or may not expand on later:

  • It seems a lot more like American cities here. It’s very sprawling, and there’s not the grid that you see in Toronto, Ottawa, or Montréal. Development patterns just look a lot more like a small- or mid-sized American city. (EDIT: Speech recognition added a “good” to that last sentence that didn’t belong there.)
  • It also seems a lot more white and Anglo (and Germanic) here. A quick glance at the areas demographics on Wikipedia confirms this suspicion.
  • I wonder how people here react to the fact that most of their broadcast media (TV at least) is based in Toronto, and that there’s nothing really local. I guess there never has been, so they probably don’t notice the difference. That said, this would be a pretty decent sized market in the US. (EDIT: There are apparently local stations here but they were not on my hotel cable.)
  • They do have their own newspaper, though, and like most Canadian papers, it seems a trifle healthier than most American papers.
  • I really love the converted shopping center on University Avenue that’s become sort of a big international food court. I ate there last time I was here and returns tonight as well.
  • I also love my room, and I’m reconsidering whether I want to leave.
  • Canadian public libraries rock the universe.