This week’s column is ceded to Paul Murray, a longtime educator and part-time Midcoast resident. His essay below is interesting and humorous. Those with a different viewpoint than Paul's are welcome to submit their views


“18 percent don’t love America” by Paul Murray

My wife, Suzy, and I were checking out a boat at the Thomaston public ramp. It was stunning, a yawl with a bowsprit and no sails.

On the way back to our truck, an older fellow in a Mercedes looked up from his device. He’d been startled by the sunshine, absorbed in his work. I asked what brought him here. “Reaching out to people, MAGA [make America great again]. I’m sending missiles out, each one loaded with a barb.”

He talked about sunshine and God, asking if loved America. I was taken aback. Talk about God is interesting; I like hearing what people believe. If the sun breaks through the clouds, I don’t instantly think God did it, but I get it — rays of sunshine streaming from heaven.

The “love America” question threw me. I’m not a flag-waver, but I own four and regularly fly two. When people question patriotism, I wonder what they’re selling.

I said I loved America; lived seven decades here never wanting to leave. He started in; “Eighteen percent of people living here don’t love America. Do you believe in due process?”

Yes I do. Rule of law. Following rules, or breaking one you don’t believe in to protest, and then going to jail. Thoreau, Gandhi, King. I’m all over due process, our courts, freedom of speech. America!

I had a Trump zealot. Not a raving backwoods bumpkin; one sitting in a Mercedes Benz. I had questions to ask someone who loves Trump: Does his dishonesty bother you? Does it bother you he bilked our government using considerable tax loopholes, bragging in a debate with Clinton that doing that made him “smart”? Does it bother you how easily he befriends dictators and offends allies? Does his utter lack of honor stick in your craw? Do you like smug, snarky and petty? Do you like his tweets? Why do you believe him and not journalists whose careers rely on accuracy? Could he have ulterior motives? How about daughter Ivanka and that comment to a talk show host about having sex with her? How do you square his treatment of women with making America great? Are there some unstated objectives here – racism, sexism? Does making American great mean returning to white male domination of everything?

I never got to ask questions. I learned that his son, age 33, “Same age as Jesus,” died of drugs; concerned, I wanted to know more. “He was just about to return home, for the third time, and someone gave him heroin.”

I wanted to commiserate, but he was already talking about our borders. “Twenty thousand marching, the lying media says 10,000, but it’s 20; marching arm-in-arm, chanting about collecting welfare in the U.S. Their own country offered them a chance to stay, but won’t give welfare. You want Democrats? They would kick down the front door of your house on Thanksgiving and invite every homeless person in, letting them eat your food while you sit on the porch starving. He started in on some senator. “You know how she got elected? Sex with the incumbent. Net worth, 138 million.”

“They’re coming. Trust me. You can’t understand. I used to dress like you, right out of a catalog, so people would think I’m from Maine. I’ve been here since 9-11 and know things you can’t know. I spend 90 hours a week doing this. Research.”

He mentioned lying Hillary and wasn’t I glad she wasn’t elected – I said I prefer her by far. The tirade increased: Haiti, Venezuela, while God blessing me, my beautiful wife and dog. Trust him. I can’t know.

My blood rose. I calmed, not worth it. This wasn’t an argument. His ammunition – sound bites and stats; I had no defense. I thought about my clothes; was I a fashion plate? I did have a practically new Carhartt jacket; just a year old and hardly dirty. My pants have no holes. My shirt had paint on it and frayed cuffs. My hat ,four years old, well worn, my boots; 30 years’ service.

I’ll admit to not paying attention to his harangue at this point, wanting to escape. God. Ninety hours. Eighteen percent. Hillary. Due process. Trump is the only one strong enough.

I walked off towards the sailboat with the bowsprit. He got back in his car, driving alongside. I nodded, listening as he wound down, finally drove away in his snappy white 280SL.

I was amazed and rattled. That was no discussion. I’d been demeaned. I felt pretty bad he told me I couldn’t understand. I’ve been a teacher my whole life, proud of helping people understand confusion. We’re all bright – that’s my impression over four decades in the classroom and seven living life.

I was shocked at the lack of listening. He doesn’t know about me anything more than what my clothes told him, and I like Hillary.

Maybe a lot of his 90 hours were spent watching TV. Cable news, perhaps? Hmm, is that where the careful analysis comes from?


“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

Carl Sagan, astronomer and writer (9 Nov 1934-1996)