I am sitting at a table in the soup kitchen where I volunteer. I make a point to eat at least some of the food that we offer. It is usually very good. This day the mushroom soup with veggies and the ravioli with spicy and mild sausage sauce are very enjoyable. I skip the salad as it has celery, my only real culinary taboo. The perfect meal for a cool autumn day.
As I sit to eat, I engage with several of the clients and wish them “buen provecho”. I listen to conversations around the room. Can only hear snippets, but they are interesting.
The 20 people at the dining room are regulars. They are mostly young men of different ethnicity, predominantly Latino. There are also several aging females, White and relatively well dressed.
One of them with an alto voice that carries tells another at a different table that, “… the old saying is right, if they don’t like it here, they should go back to where they came from”. She also makes a remark about “Habla español….” but I can’t understand its context. I assume it is intended to show her dislike of people speaking languages other than English. She is not concerned that most people are Spanish speakers and can hear her.
The person that she is talking to, does not respond. She looks like a “back to the Earth” person, slim with long straight hair, turning grey.
The first woman continues, “They want to change the Constitution of the United States….. Did you hear about the Muslim school in Philadelphia?”
Of course, as soon as I get home, I research the school in Philadelphia. The reference appears to be to a video published by Fox News in May. In it, young children make very violent statements about the enemies of their faith. (https://www.foxnews.com/us/video-philadelphia-muslim-society-children). The article and the video are classified under “Terror” on their web site.
The talking heads at Fox News extrapolate from the video to say that this was an anti-Semitic expression. The Muslim expert apologizes for the video and explains without any background or evidence that the chanting by the children is anti-Semitic. I guess anyone can get an “expert” to say anything. In fact, most of the anti-Semitic hate crimes in the US are perpetrated by White Supremacist, not Jihadist.
Back at the soup kitchen a new person sits at the first woman’s table and the conversation changes to how the US hides the ample evidence of UFOs. One person says, “Every pilot of jet planes has seen UFOs…..”
This energizes the conversation and there is talk about the appearance of the extra-terrestrials. “Yea, you know the kind that has two big eyes, a small nose and triangular face.” Another person agrees, “Right, they are called Greys.”
As I finish my meal, I make a point of getting up and addressing several Latino men in Spanish. I pick up my dishes and head to the kitchen as a new diner comes in. He is a South Asian gentleman, well dressed and with a smile in his face. It is, as I said, a diverse group.
As I get to my workstation, the sink, I find a very large pot with about half an inch of residue of the mushroom soup in the bottom. I have work to do.
The 20 diners are about half our normal count. Someone in the kitchen remarks, “They probably got their checks.”
I wonder later which of the two threads in the conversation is more absurd or more damaging.