Tuesday, January 19, 2016

politics and the test

If you've read a selection of my posts, you probably know that I'm not a very political person. I always vote, but to be honest, I don't do much research about the local candidates. I do browse their newsletters when they come in, read the campaign material, but I tend to make decisions on whether they're doing things I like. (When I say "local candidates," I don't include the mayor. Mayor of New York City is a very important office to anyone who lives here.)

But the presidential election this year really has me very interested and attentive. We have one candidate who is really liberal and awesome and amazing, and one who is a wealthy, lying racist using deplorable tactics against his opponents. (I'm kind of sorry that Ben Carson is out of it, because he was entertainingly crazy.)

I'm a liberal and a Democrat, and most of the people I know and like, and the ones I'm related to, are one or both. It's what I'm used to; I don't think twice about commenting on some idiotic thing Donald Trump said.

But...it turns out that I work with some really conservative people! Just about 3/4 or them are orthodox Jews of varying stripe, and for some reason, those folks are kind of right-wingy. I'm told that most orthodox Jews are, but I really don't know why. (I learned that this is also true of many hispanic people - when my Dominican then-boyfriend told me he was...a Republican!)

Don't get me wrong - I adore almost all of the co-workers. And the few I don't adore, I still admire for doing this work. As one of my best friends there said to me the other day, "This is not a workplace - this is a family." This might be the best group I've ever worked with.

But man...early in the Trump campaign, one of the guys said to me casually, "I think Trump has some really interesting ideas." I shuddered. I mean, I knew what a piece of shit Trump was before he was running for president, and pretty much everything he had to say, from the beginning of the campaign was pretty dreadful, and got worse.

For a while, I kept my mouth shut at work. It's really natural for me to comment on some piece of news about the candidates, but "Did you hear that horrible thing about Trump not wanting to let any Muslims into the country!" would probably be met with looks reading "...and your point is?"

But we also have a WhatsApp discussion group, and a couple of people posted "funny" political jokes with themes like "we shouldn't pay for lazy people on welfare," anti-Obama stuff, like that. The first one that was posted, I did hold my tongue and simply suggested, a few days later, that we keep politics out of the group.

That worked for a while, until the same person posted a joke - I couldn't remember it well enough so I looked up the post, and here it is: "Breaking News: The Muslim Brotherhood has officially warned the United States that if the United States continues meddling in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Iran and Afghanistan, they intended to cut off America's supply of 7-11 and Motel 6 managers. If this action does not yield sufficient results, cab drivers will be next, followed by Dell, AT&T, and AOL customer service reps. Finally, if all else fails, they have threatened not to send us any more presidents. It's gonna get ugly, folks."

This is a huge steaming pile of prejudice and idiocy. It's kind of all the ugly right-wing nonsense all put together. (Well, except for the Gun Lobby.)

This post got some nods of agreement. Then I posted (this is not verbatim), "I think the people who are thinking about are Indians and Pakistanis, not Arabs. Most Pakistanis are Muslims, but most Indians are Hindu."

Then someone asked me, "But don't you think it's a big problem to get those people coming over here?"

I said, "That's what they said about the Jews." He actually apologized to me. And I said, "It kind of upsets me to see this kind of sentiment in a group called 'Where We Help Everyone.'"

So everyone kind of shut about it since. I think they don't want to offend the "house liberal" just as much as I don't want to offend the conservatives. I'm not even sure how many are seriously conservative - but yesterday, senior counselor had a pile of magazines he'd brought from home, and said, "This one's for Jennifer!" It was Rolling Stone with a picture of Bernie Sanders on the cover. I've never told anyone there that I support Sanders, but I guess they figured it out. (And I actually found it kind of funny, when he gave me the magazine. It wasn't disparaging at all.)

I got drug tested today. We heard a few weeks ago that there was going to be a round of random drug tests, and that someone in the organization had tested positive and was immediately fired.

Of course, Little Miss Liberal does not approve of drug testing at all, nor does her spouse, Mister Liberal. But I kept my mouth shut. I let the young-hippie-guy step up to the area coordinator and ask a few hostile questions and say, "I'm not changing my lifestyle for...this! And what if someone is taking something that's prescribed by a doctor?" This guy is pretty bold because he's mid-twenties and not looking to make a career of this at all. It wouldn't break his heart to get fired. But I need my job, and have made a point of being able to submit a clean test. When I first heard about it, I mentioned it to a few other people I felt might find it useful to know. Drug testing is a huge denial of civil liberties, and embraces that hypocritical line between alcohol and non-alcohol mood-changing drugs (the latter generally known as "drugs").

So I took care of business and anticipate no  problem. But it's also true that when I was looking for work, I consciously avoided the kinds of large companies that would test. I would never consider working for a bank or for a big finance form of any sort, for other reasons; but the stand against testing also blocked me from things like entertainment networks and hospitals and a host of other places where it's not OK to smoke some pot on your own time, but is OK to get as drunk as you want when you're not at work.

The laws concerning marijuana are inching along toward a more liberal consideration, but it's kind of haphazard and fuzzy; things like it being legal to sell medical marijuana but not to grow it for legal sale, and suchlike. Marijuana laws right now are where they should have been 20 years ago. The Nixon administration commissioned a study on marijuana, and when the findings that it was not in any way harmful were presented to President Nixon, he glanced at it and threw it in the trash. (You could look it up. I'm getting kind of hungry.)

Go, Bernie!

P.S. One of my co-workers said to me today, "You used to be a writer, right?" That "used to" should not be correct and I am taking measures.