Tag Archives: Stephanie McCrummen

A fascinating, frightening look at Christian support for Trump, and all the hypocrisies it entails. Video. A waitress gets groped, and manhandles the creep who did it. And marijuana use legal in NHL? It’s about time

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way, but over the past several months, maybe even since early 2017, I’ve found myself batting two contradictory political ideas around in my head.

The first: “I am so f’ing furious at the 38 percent of Americans who voted for Trump. What kind of racist, bigoted, homophobic, backwards people are these, who could overlook so much of the awfulness of Donald Trump and still decide he should be the leader of our great country? To hell with them, forever.”

The second: “I can’t believe so many people voted for this idiot. I want to know more about how these people could do that. I want to hear their justifications, their reasons, why they made this seemingly horrible decision, and how they feel about it now. I need to try to understand this mindset, so I can make sure I and other liberals can go about changing it.”

I have to be honest, most of the time, the first argument wins out. My simple belief that if more apathetic Americans get fired up to vote, and actually show up at the polls every two years, that Democrats will re-take the Presidency, Congress and most governorships. When more people show up, Democrats win, it’s that simple. And so most of the time I think “to hell” with Trump voters and the right-wing, they’re not worth wasting time thinking about.

But I’ve really, really tried to shove that part of my mindset to the background at times, and stories like this amazing one by Stephanie McCrummen in the Washington Post Sunday really blow me away.

And terrify me.

McCrummen, who won a Pulitzer this year for helping expose Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, went down to Luverne, Ala. to spend time at the First Baptist Church, speaking to the pastor, Clay Crum, and many in his congregation.

Like the best reporters always do, McCrummen didn’t pass judgment; she simply listened, observed and reported.

And what she found was both slightly heartening and incredibly terrifying. These are almost all Donald Trump supporters at First Baptist, and the part of the story I found slightly heartening was they almost all acknowledged having a difficult time voting for Trump. You get comments like this from a man in his 30s named Brett Green, who finally got mad at Trump for his infamous comment about America taking immigrants “from shithole countries.”

“Jesus Christ was born in Nazareth, and Nazareth was a shithole at that time,” Brett said. “Someone might say, ‘How could anything good come out of a place like that?’ Well, Jesus came out of a place like that.”

And  you get this from a man named Terry Drew,  “who sat in the seventh pew on the left side, who knew and agreed with Trump’s position, and knew that supporting him involved a blatant moral compromise.

“I hate it,” he said. “My wife and I talk about it all the time. We rationalize the immoral things away. We don’t like it, but we look at the alternative, and think it could be worse than this.”

So at least, from my point of view, there’s an attempt at reckoning with the hypocrisy they’re undertaking. At least an acknowledgement of how the values they (and their beloved Bible) espouse are completely at odds with the person they voted for.

But oh, there’s also so much terrifying stuff in here. Agreements among the congregation that Trump’s positions are more important than his character. Rationalizations that other Presidents had mistresses, or did bad things.

And then there’s Sheila Butler, the character in the story who will stay with me long after the rest. She’s 67, and a Sunday school teacher. Here’s just one small excerpt from the mind of Sheila:

“To her, this was a moral threat far greater than any character flaw Trump might have, as was what she called “the racial divide,” which she believed was getting worse. The evidence was all the black people protesting about the police, and all the talk about the legacy of slavery, which Sheila never believed was as bad as people said it was. “Slaves were valued,” she said. “They got housing. They got fed. They got medical care.”

Wow. I mean… wow. I cannot recommend strongly enough reading the whole story. The reporting is wonderful, the details terrific, and McCrummen just gets out of the way and lets these churchgoers explain themselves the best way they can.

Look, I don’t think anyone at First Baptist will ever turn against Trump. But listening to them, and at least paying enough attention to be frightened that this is what they really believe, I think is pretty important.

**Next up today, a delightful little video that made me smile. Female employees in the service industry are constantly forced to put up with harassment from moronic men, and usually they just have to deal with it. But it was kinda thrilling to see what happened to 31-year-old idiot Ryan Cherwinski when he decided to pat the ass of waitress Emilia Holden in a restaurant in Savannah, Ga. recently.

Holden felt the tap and immediately grabbed Cherwinski by the shirt and slammed him to the ground, while shouting at him. The police were called, Cherwinski was arrested, and a small blow was struck for working women everywhere.

You go, Emilia!

**Finally today, a little update on one of my favorite topics: the legalization of marijuana. Specifically, the idiocy of professional sports leagues asking their players to be at their best 100-200 nights a year, brutalizing their bodies, but not letting them use a product many, many athletes have said is an immense help: Pot.

The National Hockey League, which is behind the curve on so many issues (CTE and head injuries, for one), appears to be out front on this one. With Canada moving to legalize weed and other U.S. states of course having already done so, the NHL is in talks with the players’ union to make pot legal for its players.

Fabulous. It’s about time. (Also, I have no idea if P.K. Subban, pictured above, is pro-pot, but I just love him and any excuse to run a picture of him.)

 

A sensational story of a Muslim doctor, explaining Islam in rural Minnesota. “Master of None” was superb in Season 2. And Steve Rushin, writing master craftsman, opens the curtain a little

Hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day; the Lewis family sure did. Had a terrific time at a playground in Central Park with our little man, then a picnic lunch under a big ole’ tree in Central Park, followed by dinner and watching fireworks from our window. Macy’s fireworks have been in the same place (over the East River) for the last four years, but somehow the view from our bedroom window was much, much better than in past years. Anyway, it was a great day. Life is awesome.

Two excellent pieces of writing/journalism to share today, sandwiched around a fabulous TV show we just finished watching.

First, from the Washington Post, comes this beautifully reported and told story by Stephanie McCrummen. It’s about a Muslim doctor in Minnesota named Ayaz Virji, who several years ago moved to a small town in the state and was welcomed warmly.

Then, the 2016 election happened, and things changed quite a bit. Now, Virji feels cold shoulders and stares where he goes, and to help combat the anti-Islam feeling that suddenly seems pervasive around him, he’s gone around to three small towns in Minnesota to essentially, explain the truth about Islam.

“Ayaz wasn’t sure (explaining Islam) was his responsibility, but how else would people learn?” she writes.

The story takes several surprising turns, and is absolutely beautifully written by McCrummen. Read this for a look at one small way 2016’s election changed everything.

**Next up, my wife and I just finished binge-ing Season 2 of the sublimely excellent Netflix series “Master of None.” I raved about Season 1 last year, because Aziz Ansari’s look at love, food, New York City, religion and everything else that interests him was so fresh and new.

Season 2, which was released two months ago, is miles better. Ten episodes, of varying length and subject matter, explore so many things that broadcast television wouldn’t touch. There’s an entire episode about Ansari’s character Dev explaining to his family that he’s not a devout Muslim anymore. There’s a fantastic, Woody Allen movie-esque episode of three different slices of life for New York City residents, starring a group of foreign-born cabdrivers, a deaf couple arguing about their sex life, and doormen in a swanky building and the interesting predicaments they’re often put in.

There’s a wonderful season-long romance between Dev and the gorgeous Alessandra Mastronardi, and the penultimate episode of the season will break your heart. The season starts in Italy, moves to New York, and gets sensational performances from guest stars like Angela Bassett and Bobby Cannavale.

Seriously, “Master of None” is expertly written and directed. Maybe the best thing I’ve seen on TV this year. Streaming on Netflix now, I highly, highly recommend it.

**Finally today, my man Jeff Pearlman continues to grind out a weekly Q and A on his blog with fascinating people from all walks of life, and his most recent Quaz is near and dear to my heart.

Steve Rushin was a big inspiration for me as a young sportswriter; his prose in Sports Illustrated each week was truly like none other. Twenty-six years later, I still remember his game story in SI from the 1991 World Series, maybe the best I’ve ever seen, between the Twins and Braves, and memorized the story’s opening (Rushin’s lede: “The truth is inelastic when it comes to the 88th World Series. It is impossible to stretch. It isn’t necessary to appraise the nine days just past from some distant horizon of historical perspective. Let us call this Series what it is, now, while its seven games still ring in our ears: the greatest that was ever played.”)

His wordplay can be dazzling “I ate Frosted Flakes right out of the box, and she was on boxes of Frosted Flakes” and the next cliche Rushin uses will be his first. He’s an original, brilliant writing voice, and may be the first sportswriter to marry a women’s pro basketball legend (Rebecca Lobo).

He opens up with Jeff about his career, how fluky it was that he got to SI in the first place, and where journalism is going. His story about the letter he got from President George W. Bush five years after meeting him is hilarious.

Anyway, the interview is a damn entertaining read, just like all of Rushin’s stories.