Author’s note: Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
It seems that the media and the left are working hard to paint anyone who voted for Trump as a racist Nazi. It is so bad that multiple reports of people being attacked for wearing Trump’s trademark red cap around town are in the news daily. Being me, I had to test it out. I have a long history of wearing political gear. I owned a “Sore/Loserman” shirt after Gore and Lieberman lost to Bush and I wore it several times around Chicago and no one ever said a word to me. Add to that a Rush Limbaugh T-shirt, several Bush shirts, and a Sarah Palin button I’ve worn in deep blue Cook County. I can’t remember anyone ever making a comment or feeling intimidated to wear them.
I went on a writers’ retreat with three other like-minded gals recently, two of whom owned MAGA hats. My friend Natasha has a double strike against her (for being both Russian and a Trump fan. One can only imagine the autistic screeching we would encounter if she was overheard speaking in her Russian accent while wearing the hat). This was too good an outcome to resist and so Natasha chose to be one of the hat-wearers and I borrowed my friend Gianna’s (double strike for me too for being blonde). The third, Olive, said she couldn’t be associated with this experiment in any way and would pretend not to be with either of us if anything happened because her husband has a public job. She would, however, film from a distance while exclaiming loudly “Who are those unfortunate people?” and call 911 if necessary.
We were in a small tourist town in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. I didn’t expect it to be overrun by Antifa and I made the bet that nothing would happen and Olive’s nervousness would be for naught. Natasha seemed hopeful that someone would say something so we could deliver our chosen comebacks. She had planned on giving the okay sign while I decided on, “Do you know Jesus?” If it’s gonna get awkward, might as well go all the way, I say.
I will admit I’ve never been nervous to wear a political item, especially not one that says something as innocuous as “Make America Great Again.” Of all things, this doesn’t seem like a sentiment that should upset Americans who are accustomed to standing in line behind shirts depicting lizards in various stages of copulation. After all, for eight years I put up with Obama stickers everywhere. Never in all eight years did I ever berate some stranger for having an Obama sticker or for wearing Obama gear. That would be bad manners.
Flash forward to the Poconos in 2017 and I was feeling like I was walking down the street in my skivvies. I could feel people staring at me (or my MAGA hat). Almost immediately upon exiting the car a white water rafting guide gave me side-eye, but he didn’t make any comment so I kept walking. I was acutely aware that it was on my head like a giant sign. It occurred to me how strange this was compared to all the other political gear I had worn without a second thought. When we entered the shopping district, there were more stares but no one said anything. We decided to go in a hippie head shop that looked fun. The lady in the shop was pleasant and nice. We tried on fun yoga pants and tie-dyed skirts and made a few purchases and went on our way.
We went to a coffee shop with a Harry Potter theme and lingered over lattes without incident. I even did a good deed in my MAGA hat when I helped a woman in line for the bathroom with a zipper she couldn’t reach. It made me think that perhaps Trump voters need to start a community service project where we go out in droves, wearing red caps helping people all over town. Would that finally kill the narrative that we are deplorable reprobates? Zipper Lady was beyond grateful and didn’t seem to care I was a hated Trump supporter.
After the coffee shop I was pretty confident that there would be no problems. I let my guard down. We were on the way back to the hotel when we stopped at a gas station to pick up snacks. The girls and I separated and planned to meet back at the car. As I stood in line a man walked up behind me aggressively and entered my body buffer zone, elbowing me. I shifted and looked at him and he was glaring at me with hostility radiating off of him, way too close. I had forgotten I was wearing the hat at this point so I just thought he was impatient and rude. Before I could work out why he was acting strange, it was my turn at the register. I made my purchases and walked out the door.
Olive came hurtling toward me, “What did he do?” she blurted. I had no idea what she was talking about. Natasha was chuckling and standing by the car. Gianna quickly filled me in on the guy with the sharp elbows. They were exiting the store when he started toward them from a gas pump screaming obscenities at Natasha. “YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF FOR WEARING THAT!” he screamed, flailing his arms like an escaped mental patient. Instead of the okay sign, she gave him two thumbs up and said nothing while grinning. He wasn’t happy with that and continued to yell in a full parking lot, “F*CK TRUMP!” Then he stormed into the gas station where he encountered me wearing yet another hat, triggering him further. I wondered why he didn’t say anything to me in the store but figured it was the number of people (there were many) and perhaps he had spent most of his bile on Natasha.
Olive looked like she was going to throw up. “Take off the hats!” she said. “You’re ruining people’s vacations.” We took them off, not because we were afraid to wear them, but because we decided to be nice and not trigger any more weirdos. But how sad and stupid is it that in America you can’t wear a hat for a political candidate, who is now president, for fear of ruining someone’s day?
Newsflash to the half of America who didn’t vote for Trump: The other half of us did. And we have a right to wear our hats and shirts and support our president. When are you going to grow up? Enough is enough. We are not second-class citizens. We are your neighbors and your friends who have differing ideas on economics, borders, foreign policy and other terribly boring and normal stuff. It’s been this way forever. We have pedestrian, conservative views that haven’t changed for eons. And we’ve never hidden our views on these issues. Conservatives have never been in favor of open borders, abortion, welfare without work, high taxes, big government or weak war strategies. We didn’t wake up one morning and decide to hate people based on skin color. We are the party of Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. We believe our ideas help people and make life easier for everyone regardless of race and we base our opinion of you on your character, not your color or what hat you wear. It is the left that deals solely in identity politics, breaking people into little groups based on victim status and color, a thing conservatives despise and have fought against since the the Civil War. It is the left that is self-segregating and denying people access to events based on skin color. So quit lying to yourselves and face facts.
The people filled with hate are not the ones in MAGA hats, but the ones screaming at people for wearing them. (And you might want to research the Democrats’ history with race. It’s not good.)