It's been an ugly, hateful week, Boise.
Memories of my childhood are thick with racism. I can remember my fourth-grade teacher in Montgomery, Ala., explaining to the class why our majority-minority transfer option paperwork was important. I remember hearing racial jokes as a kid that I wouldn't dare repeat as an adult. I also remember a group of girls in my chichi high school in Hawaii who liked to regularly call me a fucking haole. I remember my sister taking a beating for being a white girl in her Honolulu junior high. I learned young that racism and hatred are facts of life, but I'd apparently forgotten that as an adult.
In my progressive, BW world, where I associate with people of many different colors, genders and sexual persuasions, I'd lost sight of the fact that not everyone is as open-minded as I like to think.
Last Wednesday, in the basement at Red Feather Lounge in downtown Boise, one of the most well-known anti-Semitic neo-Nazis alive today held a book signing. News editor Nathaniel Hoffman and I crashed the party and were escorted out, but before I left, I videotaped everyone in the room. The dozen people who paid money to hear David Irving speak looked just like the kind of people you'd expect to see sitting at the table next to you on the restaurant's patio. Or the kind of people sitting next to you in church. Hoffman had the only shaved head in the room. No swastika bearing T-shirts. Young, old and in between, they were Holocaust deniers and white supremacists who looked just like every other white person in Boise.
Then last Saturday night, at a North End bar where Rebecca Scott was performing, a middle-aged male customer snidely asked me if he was in a gay bar, referring to the crowd of mostly lesbians. He was eventually kicked out of the bar for making derogatory comments about the women and telling the bartender that he didn't approve of all the singing about "gay shit."
Both incidents happened in some of Idaho's most liberal enclaves and both shocked me immensely. They shouldn't have. No matter how far we think we've come, we still have a long, long way to go.