Sunday, November 6

Rain Flowers

When I travel through international airports, I often have experiences that crystallize whole movements of thought or cast light upon whole periods of my life. So it was as I waited in the cabin of a plane in Buffalo, NY, as technicians worked for over an hour on repairing one of the plane's computers. I sat in a seat of a single-seat aisle, exposed to the relentless chatter and cocky remarks of those who sat around me. A few men made sarcastic comments about the presumed incompetence of the flight crew, and the young woman sitting behind me pestered the one hostess for something to eat. The worst, however, came from a man with massive forearms who was sitting one row back of me across the aisle. His commentary, offered unsollicited to the woman behind me, and delivered relentlessly, encapsulated all that I find revolting about the popular political climate in the United States. Some of the man's insights and recommendations included the following: "Do you listen to Limbaugh? How about Matt Drudge? That's the whole truth, people who don't cave in to the liberal media. 'Cause the media is liberal, you know." And then came this whopper: "Bush isn't like the other politicians. What you see is what you get. No influence." (When I heard that one, it was hard not to choke on the potato chips I was eating.) And then there was this little anecdote, rounded off by a charming non-sequitur: "Did you see the work the Minute Men are doing to protect our borders? If the government won't do its job, then the Minute Men step in. Where did your ancestors come from? Europe? Well, they all had to go through Ellis Island and sign up properly. Heck, my son works for law enforcement in Raleigh, NC. They've got Chinese down there with submachine guns."

I bore the commentary of my self-righteous and xenophobic fellow passenger as best I could, sensing that it was likely to be an ugly climax to my departure from the U.S. and thus something that I could look back on with a sense of relief, knowing I would not have to be exposed to such single-minded cluelessness day in and day out, on television, on radio, and, yes, in airports and airplanes.

Incidentally, here is some artwork inspired by the righteous crusade of the current U.S. government to defeat evil in all its guises.