“My eggs taste sweet,” my daughter, Rylie, said.
I smiled at her and shook my head. My eggs came from the same chafing dish and tasted fine. We were eating breakfast at a hotel in Minneapolis before we had to catch our flight back to San Antonio.
We sat in a fourth floor lobby area with half a dozen elderly people. Most of the old folks drank coffee and ate toast. All of us were listening or watching the news.
CNN blared on the television – another speech by Donald Trump. This one had Trump ranting about refugees from Syria being given sanctuary in the United States. The Don’s hair swayed with his hand movements as he became more impassioned about terrorism and American safety. I looked around the room and watched all the heads bob up and down in agreement.
“They agree with him,” Rylie said nodding in their direction, “Why?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore,” I replied.
A blonde CNN correspondent introduced some footage of a previous Trump speech where white fans punched and kicked repeatedly an African-American anti-Trump protestor. “Look that’s the Alabama speech,” I said. We both stopped eating and watched the chaos. I shook my head. I wondered what was happening in this country that so many people sing the praises of a man who espouses such antagonist rhetoric like banning immigrants.
An old man on a brown couch blurted out loudly, “It’s about damn time.”
“Time for what?” Rylie said while she pushed her eggs around on her plate.
“I don’t know. People like what he says,” I said. I wanted to tell her what I really thought about Trump and his speeches, but I didn’t think we’d make it out of the lobby unscathed if the pro-Trump audience overheard my comments.
Worse, was the guilt I began feeling for not telling the old man to shut-up. I could feel the acid rising in my throat as it dawned on me that I have become a coward who just wants the rhetoric to go away but does nothing about it. If I can see the difference, why can’t anyone else?
The Birmingham speech laid out Trump’s plan to have all Muslims register with the government. The correspondent’s reporting and the mini-riot footage instantly reminded me of Nazi Germany. I thought back on older black and white footage of Jews standing in lines to register their Jewishness and of other photographs where Jews were being beaten. I had to be wrong for making these connections. Surely, 80 years after Hitler came to power, we had moved beyond registering people for their religious preferences. Surely, we had moved beyond attacking people for speaking out about what is wrong?
“Seriously, taste these eggs, Mom. I swear they taste sweet.”
“Ok, ok,” I said. I pronged a few scrambled eggs on my fork and tasted them. “Weird, these do taste sweet.”
I watched my daughter pick up a pack of opened sugar and sprinkle it on to her eggs.
“Well duh, that’s why your eggs are sweet, you’re putting sugar on them,” I said while I pointed to the small blue and white sugar packet.
“What? I’m not, this is salt.” Rylie said.
I picked up the packet and pointed to the tiny label, “Sugar.”
“Crap. I thought it was salt,” she said.
Why couldn’t she tell the difference? The label was small but plain to see. She just wasn’t paying attention. I guess anybody could mistake sugar for salt.
Rylie got up and got a fresh plate with unsweetened eggs. CNN went to commercial, and I finished my toast and coffee.