Let’s voyage back in time to July 2008.
Dubya occupied the White House. Flo Rida and T-Pain topped the charts. The recession was just a recession and not yet the Great Recession. (Thank you, Wall Street.)
Mid-summer. 2008. Dang. Seems like another age.
I briefly mentioned the subject of this post in an earlier post. But 2021’s nazified QAnonsense got me remembering ol’ Doc and that moment in time twelve years ago.
To weather the recession, I made ends meet by working part-time at a 1500-unit apartment complex. The property offered residents the use of its pool club and rec center.
One resident happened to be a kindly gentleman named Doc. He was a silver-haired dude with a bushy, 80s-Tom-Selleck type of mustache. A retired doctor, Doc seemed to live the life. Every day I showed up to the job, Doc would be sunbathing by the pool and chatting up the bikini-clad babes. Always wore a smile.
Until…one day. That smile left Doc’s face on a hot Saturday in July. And I caught a glimpse of the future.
That day, I finished my shift and grabbed an after-work beer from the club’s bar, then saw Doc and a few other older folks sitting poolside at a table. They waved, told me to pull up a chair. We relaxed.
At one point, one of the fellas brought up the amount of election commercials. (The 2008 Presidential Election would take place a few months later.) What happened next went something like this:
Me: Yeah, those Obama ‘Hope’ billboards are everywh…
Doc: OBAMA IS AN AL-QAEDA PLANT.
Doc (voice lowering, leaning into the table, eyes narrow, ever-present smile nonexistent): In the early 1960s…Osama bin Laden sent Barack Obama SENIOR here to America…to impregnate a white woman.
Before going any further, I should state that I can’t drink anymore. Ten years ago, I had to give up booze. But traveling back to this moment, imagine a younger version of me sipping my beer and striving to maintain eye contact. Doc only stared more deeply at me after he finished spouting his proto-QAnon mumbo-jumbo. The other folks at the table? I can’t tell you what their reactions were because if I had averted my sight from Doc to look at them, Doc most likely would have shot lasers out of his two crazy-eyes and cut me in half.
My shaky hand held the beer bottle to my lips and all that ran through my shocked mind was, “But…but…but…you’re a retired doctor, Doc…like…like…a medical doctor…you know…you stuck instruments inside people’s body cavities and shit…a doctor…”
The coming years would bring the TEA Party, Oath Keepers, the 3 Percent, MAGA, KAG, the Proud Boys, OANN, NewsMax, QAnon…but when it comes to caucasian-cray-cray, it’s like Doc popped my cherry that day.
While this post may seem a tad flippant (that conversation with Doc was damn strange) I also need to point out that QAnon types pose a threat to many Americans. True, not all QAnon and MAGA are dangerous, but the modern Right attracts authoritarians who believe that whites are naturally superior—people inclined to hate people of color, Jews, Muslims, LGBTQ, and immigrants. Left-leaning white women also get targeted.
While I’ve had a few confrontations with bigots over the past twelve or so years, they don’t immediately peg me as one of their hated “others.” But if you live in another country and you’re reading this, please listen when my fellow citizens—and non-citizens who live here—share their accounts of confrontations with supremacists. My proto-QAnon story had to do with an old fella who thought that a toddler-aged Osama bin Laden ordered Barack Obama’s dad to start the Great Muslim Takeover. Their stories involve real threats of violence.
I hate how my country pushes this false narrative: that the racist crackpots pushing for a civil war tend to be lower income. The Republican Party and corporate media talk about the MAGA-hatted like they’re worse off than they actually are, spinning hillbilly-elegy-type stories to rationalize caucasians going Nazi. America wants to paint the whackjobs as less educated, therefore naturally susceptible to insane conspiracy theories and absurd rumors.
Bullshit. Financially-stable white people with college degrees, like Doc, wear tinfoil hats, too. Alex Jones’ listeners run the gamut from working class to professional. The group of Americans I call the Petting Zoo Bourgeoisie may not be as rich as the low-rent rich people who own the government, but they don’t stress about feeding their kids. They have health insurance. Like Doc, they will retire in style.
They are wealthy enough to get away with detaching from reality while still being viewed as functioning members of society. Shit, these types do just fine in many companies. Let’s be honest: Corporate America is more likely to hire a paranoid white guy than a non-paranoid, non-white person. If the applicant has an ethnic-sounding name, their resume could easily get tossed aside while the bro who thinks that his cat channels Adolf Hitler gets an interview.
In a way, I thank Doc. His cuckoo-bananas statement rendered me speechless back then. But in the time since, I am quicker to respond to equally-pathetic thoughts and point out a person’s ignorance. Maybe Doc offered me a lesson: that people like him have no intention of making sense. The PZB doesn’t feel the need to make sense. They don’t have to, they’re white. If anyone has a problem with it, they’ll summon a cop who will naturally side with them because America automatically assumes that an upper-income white person must be saner than the average person.
Many of the white trash MAGAts who stormed the Capitol during Operation White Privilege on January 6th, 2021 live more comfortably than the majority of Americans live. And those anti-maskers? They do okay financially. Sure, some may be on welfare. But many earn above the median income. This crazy-lady here doesn’t live in a trailer park.
Whatever has been driving the QAnon/Fox News/Breitbart crowd nuts, they haven’t been hurting from lack of opportunity.
America is indeed the land of opportunity for whites. Even the wack-a-loon whites.