Ben Stein's Diary

At the Sushi Place

Smokers say the strangest things.

By 8.6.13

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Monday
Another perfect day in Los Angeles. Balmy, dry, blue skies, no humidity. I swam, went to a 12-step meeting, went to the car wash, had a cheeseburger, and came home to have a nap.

Then to pay bills from my unending cornucopia of bills: mortgages, insurance, car payments, utilities, travel, travel, travel, charities by the dozen, office flowers. It is insane. Literal insanity.

Then off to a super sushi place in West Hollywood called Yoshi -- the best sushi I have ever had -- and as I walked around our house to lock the doors before leaving, a thought occurred to me. We have seven cats and three dogs. In any room, in any hallway, going up or down stairs, out by the pool, even through a window, you see magnificent cats. Languid, perfectly shaped, moving sinuously. They are living artwork. They are moving Egyptian cat statuary. I loathe their habits but their beauty is hypnotic.

At the sushi place, a man came by and told me he loved The American Spectator. He was standing outside smoking next to my wife, so I went out to join them (not smoking, of course).

The man said he had just moved to L.A. from a town in southwest Idaho. I told him we spent a lot of time in North Idaho. In perfect, glorious Sandpoint.

“The last free place in the United States,” he said. “The last place where it’s America the way it’s supposed to be. The way it used to be before we were occupied by aliens.”

“What do you mean?” my wife asked him with her usual cheerful smile that masks an intellect like a scalpel.

“You know what I mean, don’t you, Ben?” he asked me.

“I think I do,” I answered him as the cars rushed by on Santa Monica Boulevard. “But you tell me anyway.”

“We ordinary Americans are under the control of aliens,” he said, almost under his breath. “You cannot say anything even slightly negative about black people or you lose your job. Never mind that the bad habits of black people have wrecked out cities, have set a moral example of decay that’s wrecking America. Never mind all of that. You cannot say a word against blacks or you lose everything you have. Your job, your friends, your peace of mind.”

“But it would be unfair to label all black people because of a few,” I said. “You know that, surely. And the suffering of black people in this country, even in my lifetime, at the hands of whites, has been dreadful. Let’s not blame a whole race of hard-working people -- who work much harder than I do --for the misconduct of a few.”

“A few?” he asked in what became almost a shout, followed by laughing and coughing. “A few? Something like half of all young black males in this country are under arrest or in jail or in prison or on probation or in some other form of the criminal justice system right now or will be. You think that’s a few?”

“Are you sure of those statistics,” I asked him. “That’s a bit hard to believe.”

“Look it up,” he said. “You’re supposed to be the smart one, the one who’s great with numbers.”

“Well, I can’t look it up right now.”

“It’s true,” he said. “Between a third and a half and in some age groups, more than that. That’s why white people and decent black people are scared. That’s why everyone who could moved out of Detroit. That’s why it went bankrupt.”

“I’m going to look it up.” (I did and he was off but not by a lot.)

“But that’s not the worst part of it. The worst part is the thought control. If you even accuse someone of using epithets about black people, you can kill him. Black people can say anything they want about white people and nothing happens to them. Same with women. Same with gays. There are all of these ‘protected classes’ and the rest of us, the poor, white working losers who pay the taxes and fight the fires and catch the crooks and fight the wars, there’s nobody protecting us.

“We’re like an occupied nation. And the occupiers’ ears are everywhere, snooping, then putting it on the Internet, then putting it on TV. Then someone sues. The lawyers for all of these bulls--t ‘...protected classes...’ like women and black people. They’re the Gestapo of the occupiers.

“That’s not to mention the regulations that make it impossible to do business, the courts that won’t let Christians worship but protect mosques. That’s not to even get to the media kowtowing to the terrorists, calling the worst terrorists ‘militants,’ always treating them with respect because they fear the terrorists. They don’t fear us losers who are just ordinary Americans. Meanwhile, the media pumps pornography into the bloodstream, poisoning the meaning of love itself. All in the service of a vulgar, filthy materialism that says people are just machines for having sex. This isn’t America. This is Occupied America. Occupied by aliens who hate the real America.”

“I think our sushi is arriving,” I said.

“That’s why all of these movies are coming out about aliens and zombies taking over. It’s symbolic of the ‘protected classes’ and their lawyers twisting our heads around. In our guts, we know this country is under occupation.

“And there’s Obama and his henchman Eric Holder whipping up everything. They’re saying Trayvon Martin was the victim of racism. He’s beating Zimmerman’s brains in and he’s the victim? I know you know this,” he said, fixing me with an intense look. “You wrote about it.”

“Zimmerman had a gun,” my wife said.

“And if he hadn’t, he’d be dead now. What would you do if someone were bashing your head against concrete and you remembered you had a gun? Wouldn’t you use it? But it’s not allowed to even say that. Because the occupiers won’t allow it. To protect yourself against a black kid who’s beating you to death -- that’s racism and racism is a death sentence.

“I’m telling you, Ben, this is an occupied country now. Wise up. And Obama is the only President at least in the last sixty years to use his office to stir up race hatred and paranoia. Disgraceful. And here in L.A., you’re not allowed to even say one word against Obama. There’s no more free speech except on Fox and even they won’t take on the race baiting issues about Holder.”

“I think we have to go now,” I said and we went inside. The man from Idaho took such a long drag on his cigarette that he turned a third of it to ash. He laughed to himself and then he walked away.

But I thought all night about what he had said about Occupied America. Bitter morsels for thought. Over regulation. Thought control. Keeping the people down with thoughts and fears of what they could be called. Denying the obvious. Who is to say that man did not present a clearer picture than what you ever see on TV? Or maybe he’s just a nut job.

But something is keeping me up at night.

Is this country as free as it was five years ago?

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.