John- "I thought I was having psychotic experiences. We were walking down the street... and there is a house down there with sunflowers out front; there is a girl out front playing with her dog or something.... the little girl goes running up to the front of the house, yells in the front door, 'Daddy, Daddy the Jews are coming down the street!'"
Me- "But, you're not Jewish, are you?"
John- "No, well, we have a Mezuzah on the front door that a friend of ours gave us... A couple weeks later I am pulling out of the Marathon station [and the preachers kid, who lives down the street], he's walking by the meat market and he looks at me and goes, 'Hey Jew!'."
Me- "How do people even know [the Mezuzah is] there?"
John- "All this started after we hosted the block party, and people went in to use the bathroom."
Me-"Did anyone ask you what it was for?"
John-"No, the only people that have asked are friends that we have known before we moved here."
I interviewed John in his home in Wheaton. If you are not familiar with Wheaton, it is located in the western suburbs of Chicago. Wheaton is the home of Wheaton College (an evangelical college that only recently allowed it's students to have a dance) and more churches per square mile than any other town in the country. It has been the seat of the Republican party in Illinois for years and is a very conservative community.
After hearing about John's experiences I came across this clip of Louie C.K. on Conan and found it to be an appropriate addition to the conversation. I was amazed by what these children had said to John and began to wonder how a child learns to speak that way to or about an adult or even another person. You don't look at a child and expect bigotry; in my mind bigotry can only be indoctrinated by an adult. While the clip of Louie C.K. is humorous it is also frightening that this kind of racial intolerance is still around. There is no doubt that the parallels are there and it didn't feel like too much of a stretch to put the two vignettes together.
How do you feel about these cases?
What are your experiences?