I have recently been told that I am too easily offended. In fact, I have been repeatedly told that. Apparently I overreact to things that should not upset me or should not be taken personally. Apparently my humor is too flippant and insensitive. I am told that I should not have an issue with people using the Confederate Flag on Facebook posts, even when they are insisting that their rights are being violated if they can’t fly that flag next to the U.S. Flag on Veterans’ Day… even though they are from Iowa and their ancestors fought and died for the Union. I am told that I should not be upset that Donald Trump wants to deport almost all of my former ESL students because he thinks they are rapists and drug dealers. He hasn’t met them. And he even admitted that he “assumed some are good people”. But he is going to protect us by eliminating all foreigners from our society. No more of this “anchor baby” stuff with children being born here only so that their parents can stay. People don’t deserve to live here if their ancestors weren’t born here. And I shouldn’t let my foolish attachment to these interlopers, based on years worth of getting to know them so I could do my job as a teacher properly, color my response to the perceptions and pronouncements of “real Americans”.
I recently shared this movie poster on Facebook because I am disgusted and offended by the immigration policies of both of these “real Americans”. I thought it was clever, and it made me chuckle, even though I am quite well aware that Jim Carrey might be livid about having his face replaced by Sarah Palin’s. She does, after all say funnier and more nonsensical things than he does.
But I got blow-back. An Iowegian Facebook friend, whom I remember as a sweet-natured little six-year-old that I held on my lap in the 1970’s, told me, “Just wait, you will be sorry” in the comments. Now, you should probably know that Tommy grew up to be an illiterate jack of all trades who loves guns and hunting and is planning to vote for Donald Trump because he passionately hates the “Mexicans” that moved into Iowa to do the farm work that practically no one else is doing any more. He is not above acting out his belief in Trump with a gun in his hands. Will he hurt me over a Facebook post? Probably not. He’s not a genius, but he still remembers me fondly as the older boy that befriended him when he lived with his grandma in the house on the other side of our back yard. I played card games and monopoly with him and his brothers, and often let him win. But apparently, hatred of Mexicans and other “job-takers” Trumps hearts in the card game of life.
So I am left wondering if the people telling me that I am too easily offended aren’t actually the ones getting offended for the wrong reasons.
I try to listen whenever Willy Wonka pops up on Facebook to smugly tell me how to live my life. He is right when he says that you have to honestly consider the viewpoint of others and not be so completely convinced of the rightness and righteousness of your own point of view.
But those getting mad at me for being offended are offending me by saying and posting and doing hate-filled things that don’t treat others as people… just because their skin color and country of origin is slightly different than our own. They post insults aimed at “welfare queens” and suggest those people deserve what they get out of life because they are lazy and take advantage of government programs. Never mind that most of the suffering and poverty in this country is endured by the growing number of people with minimum-wage jobs. And those people are always working hard when I see them at work. Some of the people that offend me by suggesting we shouldn’t be generous to others are people that I know have no more wealth to draw upon than the people they are criticizing, and take some of the same assistance programs they are complaining about. Maybe it is actually to everyone’s benefit to be offended by the kind of hurtful things and ideas that go around this country prompted by Republican Presidential candidates and Fox News. Maybe I am not being offended enough?
We will have to wait and see. I’m sure that sooner or later Willy Wonka will pop up on Facebook with the answer. I do love that movie, and that is probably why his internet meme ideas always sway me. (It is possible that this essay may not be exhibiting Mr. Spock levels of logic, but Mickey can only think like a Mickey always thinks.)