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Intra-Class Hostility in the New Barbarism

The sun had just set and I was walking home, through Brooklyn. My arms were full, as I was carrying a large bag of groceries in front of me. Approaching an intersection, two teen-aged Latino males appeared, walking toward me. As we passed one another, the teenager closest to me swung his open hand at my face. I weaved away, avoiding the strike (something I haven’t had to do since I was in high school, when Reagan was president).

Stopping, and turning, I called the kid a punk, or something equivalent – a reaction that caused the two to stop as well. Each in his own way told me to fuck myself.

“You know,” I said, as we stood there, across the street from a bagel shop, confronting one another, “what you did is illegal. It’s called menacing.” (The common law crime – intentionally making another apprehensive of an imminent battery – is assault, but in New York it’s known as menacing.) “And you could get arrested for that.”

“Oh yeah?” he replied, “that’s funny, because my name is Menacing.”

“Really?” I asked, incredulously.

“Yeah, because you’re a Trump supporter,” he said.

“What?” I replied, wondering whether I looked like a Trump supporter to him (though, as Don King and Kanye West demonstrate, anyone can look like a Trump supporter), or whether ‘Menacing’ was just screwing with me.

“Trump wants to kick out all the Mexicans,” he continued, as his sidekick sidled up to me in a fighting stance. “He says there are too many Mexicans.”

Moving out of Menacing’s sidekick’s reach, I took a step back.

“Why you stepping back?” the sidekick asked.

“Why are you standing like that?” I replied.

“Trump wants to kick out all the Mexicans,” Menacing repeated.

“I’m Jewish,” I responded, “the Trump people want to get rid of me, too. And I fucking hate Trump. I can show you articles I’ve written explaining why I hate him, if you want to see them.”

“You’re Jewish?” the sidekick asked. “The Jews are all going to go to Staten Island.”

“What do you mean? They’re going to turn Staten Island into a giant concentration camp?”

“No,” he rejoined, “all the Jews are moving there because it’s too expensive. The rent’s too high.”

“Well, I haven’t heard anything about that,” I said, thinking that he must be referring to the ultra-orthodox Jews who live in the neighborhood, who tend to be poor. “But listen,” I continued, “I hate Trump, too. We’re on the same side in this. We shouldn’t be fighting each other. We should be talking about all of this.”

“No, we’re not gonna fight you,” ‘Menacing’ rejoined. Then he called me something that I couldn’t quite make out. It sounded like he said: “you’re a coaster guy.”

“What?” I asked. “A coaster guy?”

“Yeah,” that’s right. “You a coaster guy.”

“What’s that?” I replied. “I don’t know what that means.”

“That means you like to suck dick, faggot. Fucking Trump supporter. Come on,” he said, turning to his sidekick, “let’s leave this dick-sucking Trump supporter alone.”

“Fuck you,” I called out to them, impotently, as they walked off laughing. “You’re a couple of fucking punks.”

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Peter Berllios is a Brooklyn based writer and artist. He can be reached at peterberllios@yahoo.com and on Twitter @PeterBerllios

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