What the recent election accomplishes
Yesterday morning, I heard a familiar voice on a public affairs program on the state public radio affiliate. Someone I went to grad school with who took a job at a private university in the state. They were discussing the primary for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. My grad school colleague endorsed a candidate who has admitted that he and the other challenger to the incumbent (a third person) had colluded to divvy up control of the state school system if one of them wins; bribes to leave the election may or may not have been involved.
I mentioned it to another friend of ours on FB. Well, she said, he was always a bit of an opportunist. He probably wants an office.
A former student just flooded my email with information about how there is no male / female wage gap.
You do remember the report our employer compiled on the wage gap at the university where we both worked at the time? I wrote back.
No, she wrote.
There was a several thousand dollar wage gap between men and women at the senior level that could not be accounted for by any other factor, I wrote. In fact, it was so severe that the university counsel suggested raises in redress to avoid discrimination suits they thought the university could not win.
I don’t remember that, she wrote, but that explains it. Just predatory faculty trying to get more money out of the state. I’m only interested in facts.
Running errands for dad in town today. On the street corner that leads to the mosque, there are a handful of demonstrators with signs that say “Islam is Terror.”
(To be honest, I have only known that there is a mosque in town, and that that is where it is, for about six weeks.)
I see red. I can’t drive like this. I shake a second. I decide I have to say something. I get out of the car.
Thanks for your support, the man says.
I’m not supporting you, I say. Do you know any Muslims?
No, the man says.
Can you imagine how hurtful it must be for them to drive past their house of worship and see this?
They want to hurt us, the man says. We want them to go home.
[home — to where? I think. Milwaukee? Green Bay?]
I can guarantee no Muslim in [this town] wants to hurt you, I say. I’d lay my hand in fire.
They’re planning to attack us, another man says.
Has there ever been an attack by Muslims in [this town]? I ask.
They’re biding their time, the first man says.
I realize I’m giving them what they want — attention — and turn away as someone else pulls over. I don’t pause to listen to the next conversation. I just hope the next person isn’t agreeing with them.
I call the police department. We can’t do anything, it’s free speech, they say. As long as they aren’t doing anything or bothering anyone.
Is intimidating the heck out of the people who use the mosque ‘not doing anything’ or ‘bothering anyone’? I say.
I call the doctor’s office in front of which they are standing. Of course it’s Saturday. I leave a message and say, Is this the type of message you want your practice associated with?
I debate calling the paper and then think, no, that’s exactly what they want.
On FB, I ask rhetorically if people were always this way and I am just noticing now.
Yes, a friend of mine says, what this election has done is made it acceptable for everyone to articulate and pursue their most base thought or prejudice as a political program.
I wonder if that applies to me, too.