An Unwanted Conversation

I had just returned from a heartening walk on the beach, where I built a fort, and watched a man, his son and his grandson and two black dogs romp around and set up their fishing spot.

It was about eight in the morning and a perfectly beautiful day. I was full of spirit and energy and ideas to write.

There was my elderly neighbor and his great dog. He was returning from a walk.

I greeted him and played with the dog. He didn’t greet me but asked if I had watched the news this morning. For him, “news” meant Fox News.

No, I had not. I was on the beach. He launched into an almost frenetic report on the dire situation at the Mexican border. It was more of an assault than a report and I had no part in initiating it.

There was children wallowing in feces, sleeping on top of each other, wrapped in plastic, in cages. They were coming by the thousands and bringing disease and disorder with them. It was all Biden’s fault and had always been Biden’s fault although he’s only been President for less than three months.

Virtually everything he said to me about the crisis contained obvious errors of fact and history. First of all, the people trying to gain entrance to the US in this particular scenario are not Mexicans.

I didn’t engage with him at first, and mentioned about the beauty of the beach and the new erosion. He kept going on about the immigrants. I finally had had it and corrected him: refugees. These were refugees from Central American countries seeking political asylum from the carnage of their countries, carnage largely inflicted by American foreign policy the last century. A federal law had established this asylum law some time ago and that’s why these refugees were walking across Mexico. The law stipulates if they reach the border, they must be processed to determine their claim for asylum. I said change the law. It could have been done under Trump. My neighbor said, incorrectly, Trump tried. He did not. He then claimed the Democrats were responsible. I mentioned the Republicans controlled all three branches of government until 2019. He looked at me as if I was speaking Klingon.

The situation at the border is obviously a humanitarian disaster with seemingly no quick solution, and people can disagree on how to handle it. If I recall, Obama’s policies were pretty much the same as what’s going on now, although the numbers skyrocketed during Trump’s term, or whatever it was.

But my point in writing this and calling out the man is that you must have the facts and history right if you want to assail me in the morning with a current event after I have just returned from a walk on the beach where I got my head and heart right. You typically won’t get facts and history from programs like Fox News. You have to go deeper and get off the ideological teat. You have to walk a mile in the other person’s intellectual shoes. You have to think for yourself and not parrot talking points.

I finally disengaged from my neighbor and went inside my domicile to eat some breakfast. I wouldn’t let this conversation ruin my day. And I wouldn’t let it poison my friendship with the man.

But we haven’t spoken since.