A woman online yesterday lamented the passing of the Memorial Day holiday weekend sans the Indy 500. She typed something about missing the roar of the engines.
Seems simple enough, no? The 500 is one of this state’s few nationally recognized symbols. It is, perhaps, the only thing people in other states know about Indiana; I’ve long held that if Indiana is not the most anonymous of the 50 states, it certainly is running strong for the title. Hell, I grew up in a state and city that borders on Indiana and the only thing I and my friends ever really knew about it was it has foul-smelling air, it’s covered by a dense layer of smog, and it’s flat. Of course, our only reference point for the state was the far northwest corner of it, chock full of industrial society’s Vulcanic forges and dumps. We could literally see the plume of haze hanging over Indiana from our vantage point dozens of miles away on the cool shores of Lake Michigan and if we should have happened to find ourselves for some godforsaken reason near southeast Chicago — the Hegewisch neighborhood, specifically — we assumed the mucked up environment there was just spillover from Indiana. (It wasn’t, the simplest inquiry would reveal; Hegewisch also was home to steel mills, oil refineries, and garbage landfills. But we weren’t at all interested in simple inquiry.)
Anyway, it wasn’t until I moved to South Central Indiana when I was 52 years old that I discovered the state actually is a little bit more than just Gary, Hammond, East Chicago, and foul air and water.
If the people of Indiana’s next door neighbor and kin by alphabetical order don’t know anything about the state, imagine how in the dark those of, say, Hawaii or Vermont are about it.
So, yeah, the Indy 500. Our claim to fame. (And don’t go hollering about Kurt Vonnegut or Cole Porter or Hoagie Carmichael. No one — no one — outside of Indiana would ever connect any of those names with the Hoosier State.) The big race is not to be this weekend. It has been rescheduled for August 23rd. And I doubt anyone’d be so rash as to place the smallest bet against that date being broken as well.
Perhaps half a million people converge on the little suburb of Speedway outside Indianapolis each year to watch — or at least hear — super-fast cars go around in circles. Or ovals. Or whatever they go around. What other event in this holy land attracts half a million people? Not even the Super Bowl, the most sacred of American Sundays.
So, the woman, exhibiting understandable state pride, mourned its absence. As I say, simple, right?
Wrong. Here was another fellow’s comment about this year’s race-less Memorial Day: “What did you expect? The Indy 500 people are probably liberal, too.”
And therein lies one of the most telling examples of where we are in America today. Everything — e-ver-y-thing — is a litmus test. You’re either on one side or the other, period. And if you aren’t on my side on every single issue, every splitting of a hair, why then, you’re a bad person. You’re one of them.
The commenter, obviously, is equating adherence to pandemic precautions to being liberal. Bad. Them.
He could have said, “Aw, for pete’s sake, we coulda run the race. Things are getting better. And we gotta get back to normal sometime.”
See, that’s an argument, in the real sense of the word. Here are some definitions of the term argument as offered by Merriam-Webster:
- the act or process of arguing, reasoning, or discussing;
- a coherent series of reasons, statements, or facts intended to support or establish a point of view;
- a reason given for or against a matter under discussion;
- a form of rhetorical expression intended to convince or persuade.
There’s a few more. The venerable lexicon even offers one definition as “mathematics: one of the independent variables upon whose value that of a function depends.” Among all those denotations there is, lonely and seemingly in contrast to all the rest, this one: “an angry quarrel or disagreement.”
This year, today, now among us, there is only that last definition. If we’re arguing, we’re not trying to talk each other into accepting a point of view. We’re screaming to the world I am right and you wanna destroy our cherished way of life!
The pandemic response, however you support it or not, however you keep to it or flout it, is just another sign of how bad a person you are. The people who want to get on with life aren’t just antsy or even ill-informed. They are bad. They’re dangerous. The sooner they die off, the better for the rest of us.
If you wear a mask, why then, you’re a sissy. A coward. Probably gay. Worse, you’re a liberal.
Me? I wear a mask. I stay away from strangers. I rarely go out in public — only to the Kroger for tomatoes, fish, rigatoni, and bourbon. But I really get that others are eager for life to resume as before.
I’m not talking about those who carry military-style automatic weapons into McDonald’s or brandish placards calling COVID-19 a hoax and call for Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates to be beheaded. They are loons. I wouldn’t even try to argue with them. Argue, that is, in the classical definition of the word. I wouldn’t be able to persuade them. They’d be incapable of hearing or grasping my “reasons, statements, or facts.”
They are, indeed, “dangerous.”
It all makes me wonder if I, too, have fallen under the universal litmus test spell. Am I just another knucklehead who thinks anybody who disagrees with even the tiniest sliver of what I say “would be better off dead”?