Fighting an Englishman's prejudices at Gleason's
My boxing student Tim moved to Brooklyn the other year from London. He is one of those fun bald guys who has an infectious smile. He is in some part of the publishing industry.
One thing I particularly like about Tim is that he has outgrown European progressivism. It always surprises me when someone outstrips his background. My dad was liberal; I am conservative. Tim is fifty-two years old, an ex-Rugby player, and tough in a Liverpoolian way.
Tim seems to be conservative English. I'm not sure. We chat in my office in Gleason's Gym before going out to box. Tim has a good sense of humor. I never know what he is going to say.
Tim is putting on his equipment to do a couple of rounds with me. I am sixty-eight and too old to box. But we don't punch in the head. I have brain damage from professional boxing, and head blows could kill me.
Surprisingly for a European, Tim agrees with my total lack of respect for Obama. Even he thinks that Obama is a failure. Once a German and a Turkish student of mine ganged up and called me a bigot for hating Obama.
I don't see it. I spent my life in a black gym, I was in a black rap group, and I spent time in jail with blacks. Yeah, I'm a real bigot. What's the German's and the Turk's experience with blacks? Watching the movie To Sir With Love?
Tim surprises me by not seeming as conservative as I thought that he was. He expresses a few covert liberal attitudes that he still hangs on to. He is like Dershowitz, criticizing the Iranian nuclear deal while failing to criticize himself for having voted for Obama.
Tim surprises me twice today. I suspect him of sympathetic liberalism. We have two arguments.
"When I was in Tunis in 1972," I say, "I met the doctor for President Habib Bourguiba. He told me that he left England because of national health care. He said the quality of medicine was going down, and he'd rather be in Tunis getting paid well to administer to the president."
"That's a long time ago," Tim says.
"What about now? You guys often have to wait months to see a doctor. And colon cancer is known to be treated better in America. You die quickly if you get it in England. Plus your death panels close the lives of the innocent. President Obama laughed at death panels. He laughs at everything he is guilty of. He mocks us so he doesn't have to mock himself."
"That's not what I've found," Tim says.
"If I were sick, I'd rather be in an American hospital than an English one."
"Well, English national health care is better than Obamacare."
"It's still no good. Just not as bad. Obamacare is a bunch of contradictory ideas laid upon a tradition of free-enterprise health care. The mistakes are just beginning to come out. The horrors are just coming out of the jungle, like Kurtz in Heart of Darkness."
"Do you want to box?"
"I don't want to fight a contradiction," I say. "I'd like to punch your liberal clichés, but I don't want to hurt your hatred of Obama."
We go out to box a few rounds anyhow. I hit him in the gut. I want to upset his clichéd opinions. I want him to vomit out his hidden, unaware liberalism.
We go back into my office for twenty minutes to continue our intellectual fight.
I am surprised when Tim says, "Are you for capital punishment?"
"Violently so," I say. "I don't believe in victimhood without retribution."
"But I want to be above revenge."
I guess he's not as conservative as I thought.
"You're not above revenge. If you don't take it, you are beneath it. Do you think you are a saint? Failing to kill a killer is disrespectful to society. It's saying that murderers' lives are more important than victims."
"It's saying that I am above killing," Tim says.
"It's saying that you can't raise yourself to take a position against murder by having the courage to execute the killer."
"I believe in life," he says.
"Then protect it. And even if execution won't bring back the dead, it will create an atmosphere where future murders won't be so casual."
"Sociologists say that the death penalty doesn't discourage murder," Tim says.
"Sociologists are liberals who prefer soft answers to responsible solutions. They are also like weakling journalists. If I were going to kill someone, I would think twice if I might get the death penalty. Why do you think that everyone on death row is petitioning for a commutation to life? No one wants to die. Not even killers. The death penalty is the greatest deterrent to murder, no matter what weakling pseudo-scientist sociologists think."
"I'm still not for the death penalty."
"That's because you're English. Europeans all want to pretend that they are civilized while they mess up the world and leave it to Americans to fix up," I say.
"Well, maybe if my family was murdered, I'd want the killers murdered." It's a cheap concession.
"I certainly hope so. If you didn't, you would be the beast whose cowardice let civilization decline."
"You don't pull punches."
"Let's go in the ring and spar a few rounds again. I've got to teach you Englishmen something about self-protection. I wish someone would teach Obama."
"I'm surprised you Americans elected a man named Barack Hussein Obama after 9/11," Tim says. "And you criticize my politics."
"I did not elect this weakling. His name alone is reason for impeachment. And no hitting to the head."
We do a few more rounds. We're just having fun. We tolerate each other's politics. He's not really that bad. He does at least hate Obama. That is the litmus test of sanity. Just look at what the world has become and is becoming since he took over.
Teddy Roosevelt said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick."
Obama implies, Speak rhetorically and carry a wet noodle.