This I Believe

Christopher - Portland, Maine
Entered on September 14, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES YOU LIE? I’LL CATCH MYSELF PADDING MY FACTS AND I SMIRK AT MYSELF: “YOU MINX, YOU.” I CATCH A ROOMFUL OF PEOPLE LYING THEIR SEATCUSHIONS OFF, AND THEIR ERROR IS CLEAR, AS MOHAMMED WOULD SAY. WHY? WHEN I LISTENED TO JAY ALLISON’S ADDRESS TO THE BRUNSWICK, MAINE AUDIENCE (MY HOMETOWN FROM AGES FIVE TO EIGHTEEN), AND ESPECIALLY WHEN I LISTENED TO THE LACK OF QUESTIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE, I COULD SEE MYSELF PADDING MY FACTS AND SIMULTANEOUSLY SEE THE BRAZEN-FACED CROWD FAILING TO RISE TO THE BAIT, RISE TO THE CHALLENGE JAY BRANDISHED IN FRONT OF THEM.

I WANTED TO ASK THEM, TO ASK HIM, TO ASK YOU, “DO YOU THINK JEWS AND NON-JEWS IN ISRAEL SHOULD HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS?” HOW CAN WE BE SO SENSITIVE TO A CARIBBEAN ISLANDER’S DIRTY HANDS AND SO INSENSITIVE TO GENERAL BETRAY-US?

WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES US IGNORE THE DRAGON IN THE LOFT AND INSTEAD STRAIN AT A GNAT, WHATEVER THAT MEANS IN PARTICULAR?

WHY DO I EVER PAD MY ARGUMENTS? WHY DID THAT AUDIENCE AVOID MENTIONING THAT PUBLIC RADIO IN MAINE IS AS MORIBUND AS IT COULD BE FOUND ANYWHERE, ON EITHER OF TWO SCALES? HOW MANY LOCAL PEOPLE DO YOU EVER HEAR ON IT, ASIDE FROM TOBY LEBOUTILLIER ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON’S STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE? THE ENTIRE REST OF THE PROGRAM LIST, INCLUDING THE HUMBLE FARMER FROM ST. GEORGE, HAS NOTHING MAINE ABOUT IT. IT’S LIKE THE FAMOUS “BERT AND I” CARICATURIST, MARSHALL DODGE, WAS A SUMMER PERSON FROM MASSACHUSETTS.

THE OTHER WAY MAINE PUBLIC RADIO FAILS IS IN TOEING THE PARTY LINE. THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF SOMALI IMMIGRANTS IN MAINE, BECAUSE PORTLAND IS A DESTINATION CITY FOR REFUGEES UNDER IMMIGRATION LAW. YOU WOULD THINK THE ETHIOPIAN INVASION OF SOMALIA, WITH U.S. ASSISTANCE, IN JANUARY OF THIS YEAR WOULD PRODUCE ALL KINDS OF GOOD RADIO ON THE WAR ON TERROR AT HOME. THE HEAD OF PROGRAMMING REPLIED TO MY SUGGESTION BY QUESTIONING IF ANY SOMALIS SPOKE ENGLISH WELL ENOUGH TO MAKE GOOD RADIO.

SO THAT BRUNSWICK AUDIENCE: WHY WERE THEY SILENT? WHAT ARGUMENT WERE THEY PADDING? WERE THEY DENYING JAY’S CLAIM THAT RADIO HAS A “GHOSTLY” EFFECT BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE “EAR-LIDS” AND SO CAN’T SHUT OUT ITS INCANTATIONS?

ACTUALLY THAT SILENCE REMINDS ME OF LAW SCHOOL, WHERE A HUNDRED FIRST YEAR STUDENTS COULD SIT AND WATCH A VERY WELL-MEANING PROFESSOR MANGLE A MAINE IDIOM AND THUS THE POINT OF HIS LESSON, RATHER THAN SPEAK UP.

WHAT WERE THEY AFRAID OF? WHAT AM I AFRAID OF WHEN I PAD MY ARGUMENT? I’M AFRAID THAT THE FACTS AREN’T ENOUGH.

I BELIEVE THAT THE FACTS ARE ENOUGH. I BELONG ON RADIO. GOD HELP ME NOT TO BE AFRAID.