Bazaar of the Bizarre

Saturday I stopped at the Albertsons to pick up a few groceries. As I was standing in the aisle, puzzled, trying to make the correct choice from the various brands of organic quinoa on offer (who am I kidding, I was in the candy aisle trying to find the best price-per-pound available on dark chocolate), I became aware of a conversation happening just a couple strides to my left. An Albertsons employee — a young woman, maybe late-20’s/early-30s — had a table set up where she was giving samples out. She was engaged in excited discussion with a man who looked old as dirt, but in reality was probably my age, if not a little younger.

They were discussing our 44th and current President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama II.

I don’t like to talk too much politics or religion around here, but I can’t not talk about these two. I couldn’t hear the woman so well, as she had her back to me, but the man was reasonably audible as he was facing me. I couldn’t pick up every word, but the gist of his points were this:

  • Obama is a proven, and self-admitted, Muslim
  • “What are people going to do when he ‘dies’,” the man said, making air quotes with his fingers, “and rises again as the anti-Christ?”
  • A minute or so of explanation about all the events detailed in the Quran that line up with things Obama has done that prove he is, indeed, the anti-Christ, and will, indeed, rise from the dead
  • A moving statement about how much he feels sorry for people who can’t see this truth, particularly because they aren’t acting with their own minds and are essentially zombies
  • “They’re brainwashed!” I clearly heard the woman offer with particular enthusiasm, like the child who suddenly finds that, against all odds, she has the answer to the question the teacher throws out to the room

There was more, but I didn’t stick around to listen; I’d found the chocolate I was looking for. I considered politely interrupting and asking, “Excuse me, but you people don’t actually believe this horseshit, do you?” But I didn’t, I just went on about my business of driving home, followed by cruising the park with my hot undead wife looking for brains of the living to dine upon.

Look, you ask me, and I’m going to cop to believing in some crazy stuff. Aliens? Who doesn’t? Bigfoot? Are you kidding me, of course! But I’ll say so with a twinkle in my eye, parrying a “But science has never proven they exist!” with “AHA! But it hasn’t proven they DON’T either, so FACE!” There are things I believe in because I want to. It makes life more interesting. More fun!

You can say the same thing about religion. If faith brings you comfort, if you can be peaceful about it and not try and force your ideas on me, I’m totally cool with whatever gets you through your day. Truly. There are plenty of solid teachings there that, if more people followed them, the world would probably be a better place, and I think some people find a much needed community in faith. Peace and love; do unto others; and it harm none, do what you will shall be the whole of the law.

To me, believing in the existence of some large, hairy, unseen denizen of the Pacific Northwest isn’t so different from believing in, I mean literally believing in, the majority of the characters in the Bible, right up to Jesus himself. There’s more valid scholarship questioning his actual existence in fact than there is proving Sasquatch doesn’t exist, for that matter. But hey, whatever floats your ark. Like I said, it doesn’t matter to me one way or the other, as long as you don’t try pushing others around with your beliefs. It would help if you stay away from all the stoning and murder and all that other creepy shit those old bastards snuck into the holy text too.

Still, when faced with zealotry and ignorance like I overheard in Albertsons the other day, it blows my mind and is a little frightening. To think there are people that actually believe that stuff, in the USA, in 2014, is amazing. I don’t know how they manage it. Look at the statistics for the USA these days for how many people believe in some of these wackier ideas, or don’t believe in others — particularly as it relates to little things like evolution and/or climate change, “theories” that are as close to scientific fact as little theories like, I don’t know, GRAVITY — and then you will know why I feel like we are pretty much doomed.

As for Obama, well. I see my share of stupid bumperstickers, email jokes, whatever. The racist ones in particular make me shake my head. When you play that stuff you’re poking fun at a guy while displaying your own vastly underdeveloped intellect. I’m no fan, didn’t vote for him (I haven’t voted either R or D in the presidential election since 1996, but this being Montana, with all of two electoral votes, my vote in that particular race means do-dah anyway), but I wouldn’t say for all of his disappointments it’s not like he’s failed in everything. He’s about what I expected, which is why I never got on his bandwagon.

The political discourse toward the man has been enlightening as to how screwed the USA is these days. I don’t see it changing. I just hope we don’t run out of brains to feed on before Obama comes back from the other side with hellfire in one hand and shark mouths for fingers on the other. Politics in general, for crissakes. Is there a larger group of mostly old, mostly white men who are more out of touch with the rest of us than those we elect? We pretty much have the country and government we deserve. Kudos to those people who still have the energy to try and change some things here and there.

 

Author: Chris

Chris La Tray is a writer, a walker, and a photographer. He lives and travels from Missoula, MT.

15 thoughts on “Bazaar of the Bizarre”

  1. Great post! Yep- here in California we got our share of whackadoos too. I know we had a few when I was growing up but it seems like there are more now- maybe that’s just me getting old and curmudgeonly but sometimes I wonder. As ever, I think education is the best tool to help (and we have been budget cutting there for years) but some people, perhaps your friend in the post here, are seriously mentally off. Of course, given that the vast majority of people in the USA believe in religious fairy tales it’s hard at times to discern just who are the crazies…

    Thanks Chris – keep up the good work.

    1. Thanks, Doc. I don’t even mind the “fairy tales” as you call them. I’ve certainly taken some of the inspiration for how I want to live my life from some nutty places. It’s when people cross the line and project that onto the rest of the world around them where I get my hackles up. I think people are just weird, man. As if the last couple hundred years of technological advances have leap-frogged us farther along than evolution has allowed our brains to keep up with or something, heh.

  2. I totally get being put off by the racist comments. But lately it seems more and more people are looking for answers in odder places. Someone close to me believes Obama is a “shape-shifting alien lizard.” And here’s the reason: this person(s) can’t accept the cruelty of humans towards other humans. Which is a “fact of life” we’ve accepted for centuries now. Yet when this person tries to find an alternate reason for such outrageous behavior they are viewed as “possibly mentally ill”. And no, I don’t buy the Obama is an alien theory, but I get the motivation to believe it as an answer to our atrocities towards one another. I think the Internet has done many a disservice by spreading very strange ideas, such as Obama is the fricking anti-Christ. People are fallible, that seems to me to be all it is.

    1. I would agree the internet has gone a long way toward helping these ideas spread. Not that they haven’t been around long before it, it just makes the stuff more accessible. Have you ever heard of David Icke? Interesting dude. His entire premise is (from his Wiki page) this: “At the heart of his theories lies the idea that a secret group of reptilian humanoids called the Babylonian Brotherhood controls humanity, and that many prominent figures are reptilian.” My writer friend Chris Farnsworth has written three great books about a vampire who works for the President, and in the prologue to one of them — ala the opening set piece that always opens a James Bond novel — his vampire superhero character takes out Osama bin Laden, who is actually one of these lizard people. Sounds hokey, but it’s a lot of fun.

  3. I find conspiracy things odd indeed. The President is one of many, but they have something in common. Any reply to them is seen (from their point) as either agreeing with them, or if not, you’re either ignorant, or part of the conspiracy.
    One of the things I like about Butte, is among the people I consort with, there are few of those. I’m sure we have our share, like Missoula, but I don’t interact with them.
    Heh…and at my age I feel the freedom to tell people like that just what oddities they are.
    Cheers
    Mike

    1. I’m really tired of that “you’re with us or against us” mentality. That’s definitely gotten worse.

      Man, I’ve spent essentially zero time in Butte. I need to rectify that.

  4. Ugh, I think it’s even worse here in BFE Idaho. But perhaps not. I’ve seen ignorance everywhere. 🙂 I always want to ask – if Obama is SO EVIL, why hasn’t he been really and truly evil yet? All I’ve seen is the same ol’ corporate cronyism that exists in our government. Nothing’s really changed. And it won’t as long as we have a 2-party system and corporations are people.
    Did you read Andrew W.K.’s take on the red-blue issue? It’s really great. http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2014/08/ask_andrew_wk_right_wing_dad.php

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