Dear Sophia:

She was eighty if she was a day. I picked her up from Alexandra Park — a former racetrack, now events centre and nascent “new village” with apartment development and the like.

I greeted her as she got in the car, and she heard my accent. “Are you American?” She asked. “Well, yes but also a Kiwi” I said.
“Isn’t President Trump doing a great job?” she asked.

Why do you say that?” I asked. Thinking to myself that if anyone else had started that way I would have kicked them out of the car.

“Well” she said, “there’s the wall, which is so important for America’s security”

“Uh-huh” I said. Hoping for a cessation in the trumpversation.

“And of course, the 2nd amendment rights must be upheld” she said. Yes, she really said that.

“Whaaaat?” I asked,startled. It’s two weeks after the mosque shootings in Christchurch.

The rest of her talking points were the same as you can hear on Fox news, Breitbart, and the Republican Party website. Then she explained that she was quite impressed by Trump sitting in the first seat at the funeral of Billy Graham. (She was not impressed with his bombast nor his general way of talking).

I asked her where she had been that morning. It was a religious meeting, some sort of evangelical thing that is held regularly there.

She’s someone’s Nana, in New Zealand and I’m hearing American propaganda. It was very fucking disturbing.

I listened quite carefully and heard the power of this propaganda. She’s also very impressed with Jacinda, and I understand the power of that kind of propaganda as well.

The need for a value structure is important. For some, that is religion. Religion already requires belief. It physically hurt me to listen to this woman’s faith being subverted. In real time. By some pretty fucking devious people.

Why are these issues sitting in the head of a nice NZ lady? Why are they our problem or concern? Why is the NRA funding political groups here and in Australia? Why are we letting foreign interests set our agenda? This political octopus has spread everywhere now. We need alarm bells. This narrative is not healthy for democracy or for any kind of lasting peace.

If you are aiding this and not doing anything to stop it then by gum you are complicit.

We approached our destination. The nice lady offered me a blessed day. I offered her the same. She really was a very nice lady.

You would have liked her.