Grits and Tamales

Life in the Deep South, by Gabriel Aguilera

They Heard it from a Brother in Arms: More Trump Learning Moments

The other day I sat down with four colonels for a post work whiskey. There were five of us, one African-American and three conservative White-Americans, and we kicked around politics. I should report that it is not at all clear what the political preferences were of the latter three during the presidential campaign. Politics is not polite discussion with a military officer unless you know your interlocutor well.

During discussion I made the same points with them about “safe spaces” noted in my last post, and added to them the anecdote of my Latino friend’s son in Los Angeles who got bullied by a Trumpista child at school as well as that of my cousin, who recently got jumped by racists in Los Angeles last week. I also stressed that even before Mr. Trump was selected president that as Americans we are dealing with an extraordinary deportation crisis that gets too little attention. There is, according to US Embassy estimates, now nearly 500,000 US children in Mexican schools as a consequence of deportations, which have risen under President Obama. My point to them was that the issues of deportation and building walls has been very personal to me and Mexican-Americans before Mr. Trump astonishing political triumphs.

Two things stood out during this group gab. The first was the honesty and patience with which conservative colonels listened and attempted to understand the perspectives of two people whose world views they did not share, indeed could not share, so as to gain greater knowledge and awareness. This I thought extremely important for obvious reasons.

The second was the eloquence of the African-American colonel. He spoke plainly and with pathos of his and his family’s plight, of the very real concerns and fears that African-American families live with every day in a way that only they do. The conservative colonels heard this from a brother in arms. They all got it and at least for the moment I think that they realized that there is more to liberal whining, that there is something to BlackLivesMatter that is important even for them to grasp.

These particular men of war are all outstanding professionals that I deeply respect and admire. This discussion brought home an important lesson for me; namely, that all of us need to continue to talk with and listen to those reasonable openminded souls in our orbit.

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