A Liberal Hostage
SOMEWHERE in Texas, perhaps Fort Worth, there is a 22-year-old ultra-conservative being held hostage by a family of liberal fanatics.
I wouldn't suspect this except that I am a liberal being held captive here by a group of conservative people who claim to be my family.
The woman who claims to be my mother tries to convince me of that by telling me about the day I was born. But she made me suspicious one day when she mentioned another kid brought into the world only minutes after me in the very same Carswell Air Force Base Hospital in Fort Worth in which I was born. And one day, one of my parents in my presence jokingly told a friend, "We're still not sure if we ended up with the right kid."
They all laughed, but I remember panicking. I wondered, "What if I am with the wrong family?" Fearing for my life, I plotted my escape, waiting until they gave me the signal that they were about to turn on me. They've certainly given me reasons to be suspicious.
THESE people, who all happen to be right-wingers, take their ideology from the father of the woman who says she is my mother. That man, a successful lawyer in Houston for some 30 years named James Ingram, believed that Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a "hypocrite" and a "troublemaker."
And he passed this conservative idelogy down to his daughter. If this woman were white, she would be a racist. As it is, she is somewhere to the right of Barry Goldwater on the political spectrum.
A conversation with her starts like any other between a mother and son. She asks me first about school, and later, why I stay out so late all of the time. But then, these innocent discussions usually turn into another one of her brainwashing sessions.
The name Jesse Jackson is taboo with her. If anyone ever tries to tell you that all Black people like Jesse Jackson, just tell them to visit my home, Camp Conservative. In the same manner as her father, this woman believes that the Rev. Jackson is a "hypocrite" and an "opportunist."
Jackson's only out for himself, she and the rest of her family say, and he is willing to give up any righteous cause if the price is right.
Although the man who says he is my father is not as rabid in his views as the others in this family, he always votes Republican. He admits, smilingly, to voting for Reagan both times.
THERE is still hope for my alleged youngest brother, Phillip. He does show some moderate tendencies, although he too seems to feel I make too many excuses for the oppressed people who have no chance to advance in this racist, sexist and bigoted society.
But if there is hope for Phillip, my alleged middle brother Michael more than makes up for it. He joined the high school newspaper the year after I did. I've always believed that it was in an effort to rebut my "liberal Jesse Jackson editorials."
When people meet Michael and I together for the first time, we find it much easier to tell them that the same last name is just a coincidence. "We're all God's children," I like to tell them. When pressured, I will admit the relation. But he still prefers to keep up with the routine.
We differ on a lot of the issues. Make that all of them. You know the axiom that says there is a Harvard man on both ends of an argument. Well, there is a Lartigue on each end too.
I can't recall an issue we have agreed upon this year. Or last year. Or the year before.
Michael believes that affirmative action is reverse discrimination and that Rev. Jackson is anti-Semitic and only pretending to no longer be friends with Louis Farrakhan, the king of anti-Semites.
Michael doesn't like activists of any ideology. He despises unions. And I'm not quite sure what it means, but he says, "I agree with Derek Bok on every issue."
He also thinks that Archbishop Tutu should stop complaining and give back his diploma. "The guy really gets on my nerves," he says. "Mail it back tomorrow. I'll pay for the postage."
I'm not a martyr. I've never thought of myself as a rebel, although I am one to my alleged family. A rebel with a liberal cause.
I don't worry that much anymore if I'm with the wrong family. It's a family tree with conservative roots, but I've grown to kind of like them. I guess I'm just the Black sheep of the family. But this summer, when I visit Texas, I think I'll make a stop in Fort Worth.