It’s just a tee-shirt
So I walk into my gym in Troy, Missouri, to lift.
The woman behind the counter, who I thought was a gym friend, says, “I’m sorry. You can’t wear that in here.”
She pointed at my chest, which might be a little too incredible from lifting.
That wasn’t the issue. Without realizing it, rummaging through my drawer, I had thrown on a tee-shirt with a picture of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wearing a crown and titled, “Notorious A.O.C.”
Now I know people down here in Lincoln County are no fans of this liberal New York congresswoman who they know is despicable from the real news people on Fox. Folks here generally don’t like any East Coast elite socialists, no less a silly loud-mouth dancing little Bronx Democrat Hispanic girl telling us what’s what.
Heck, this county went 72 percent for Trump. We’re more than 96 percent white. We support Trump’s Wall big time even though we’re only 1 percent Hispanic and have few if any recent immigrants. Except of course at the Lincoln County Jail where they’re keeping a handful of ICE detainees caught at the Mexican border 1,000 miles away.
Suffice that most people here don’t cotton to A.O.C. But it’s just a tee-shirt, and I like the woman because she’s busting things up in Washington.
Nevertheless, my gym “friend” said that my tee-shirt could be construed as promoting Democrat liberal socialism. Several gym members had complained about feeling uncomfortable with me wearing it. She wanted to keep her gym “a politics-free zone.”
That made me angry. There’s nothing wrong with the shirt, I said, there’s nothing vulgar. It’s just a supportive shirt. I would never turn anyone away from anything because of their beliefs, their religion, their opinions, anything. Everyone has their own opinions. It’s a free country.
I had a lot more to say.
So driving home from the gym, I ignored traffic laws and pulled out my phone, said my piece, and posted the video on Facebook. Maybe you saw it:
“I just left the gym, working out. When I was starting, the owner came up to me and said that my Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shirt that I had on was offensive, and that I’d need to remove it in order to work out there. My shirt is linked to socialism. Which, I freaking hate that word; whenever people use it, it’s thrown around way too loosely. It’s 2019; get the hell over it. It’s not socialism.”
My video went viral, especially after MoveOn reposted it. All hell broke loose.
The gym came under vicious attack from liberals all over the country who sneeringly used facts, logic and critical thinking, as well as proper spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax. The liberals called my gym friend a fascist and even worse — a MAGA. She had to take the gym’s Facebook page down as it was being spammed with hateful liberal messages such as, “please note the lack of Nazis at our marches.”
Liberal trolls from as far away as Burlington, Vermont, and the Portlands Oregon and Maine, left negative reviews on the gym’s Yelp page.
While I’ve received a only few negative messages from Trump supporters because they rarely post anything nasty online, I’m overwhelmed with all the support from liberals that’s flown in on messages and calls.
I’ve even been offered free gym memberships in the Bronx and the Castro district of San Francisco, and special vinyasa yoga classes in Cambridge, Mass.
But it’s too bad, if you believe in something opposite of what they believe in Troy, Missouri, they immediately point out that you’re a socialist.
I’m not a socialist. Socialism shouldn’t be a topic, really. Like racism, socialism was a long time ago.
Ok, so I wore a tee-shirt that provoked people.
Maybe I fanned the flames of political division by posting how I was victimized for expressing my First Amendment right to support a liberal. And then gave some interviews to the media.
But while I’ve fueled the political split, I’m tired of the split, the divide in the whole country. We need to come together. Right now. Over me.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer