As my profile says, I enjoy karaoke. I live in a small community that would be considered “rural” but in this homogenous country the only thing that separates rural from urban or suburban is whether you have farms on all four borders or whether you abut another town. While we’re only ten miles up the road from a major university, we still have our redneck element and you definitely meet them in the bars.
I was out last evening in a local karaoke bar chatting with a man who actually did justice to Hootie and the Blowfish. When he found out that I was a writer and an editor, of course he had an idea for a book that he just had to share with me. Actually, he was describing a movie which is a completely different kind of writing. I’ll call him “Bill.” After we talked about his idea for a Biblical epic/2001 A Space Odyssey, the conversation went something like this.
“Hey, Honey!” He nudged his wife. “This lady’s a writer!”
“Oh, really? What have you written?” Honey replied.
“My book is called Rock Bound. It's about political prisoners who are arrested at a demonstration in Washington and sent to mine the moon as slave labor.”
“You must have been a hippie,” Bill commented. Honey turned back to her drink and their friends.
“Actually, I joined the Navy,” I replied. “I felt then the way most people feel now. I didn’t think we belonged in
“What do you mean we don’t belong there?” Bill asked.
“Do you mean
I thought, Oh no, another redneck who thinks we should kill all people of Islamic belief because a few attacked us—or who still thinks Iraq had something to do with the attacks on 9/11. At least that stupid ABC movie clarified that much. But instead, I asked:
“Why do we belong in
“Well, I know they didn’t have anything to do with Osama Bin Ladin, but we need their oil.”
“Do you mean to tell me,” I asked, “that you would be willing to die so your neighbor can drive an SUV?”
“How does that make us different from—“
“And now we need Rochelle at the karaoke stage!”
By the time I finished my song, he was talking with his wife and their friends and he and his wife left before I could complete that sentence. But I was amazed. I couldn’t believe this man actually admitted we had invaded another country to get its oil and thought that was OK. Is that how the Germans felt when Hitler saw something in
I was afraid when I thought the only Nazi’s in this country were the ones in the West Wing and a few skinhead gangs and survivalists who don’t bother to vote. But this man appeared normal—at least as normal as a native of this town can be. And I’m afraid that he and his friends vote. Sometimes I really wish I could take my kids and grandkids and migrate to Canada—at least until American voters come to their senses and realize that “manifest destiny” wasn’t the noble cause our history books make it out to be. It was patently unfair to the people who already lived here. And now it seems to be spreading to the