Today I had a brief conversation with a professor on a rather (for me) uncomfortable subject. He asked me what my column was about, I replied that it addressed my belief that the "Islamophobia" phenomenon is over-stated and we got into a conversation. He brought up the Crusades and asked me what it would take for Christians in this country to rise up in arms. All I could come up with was that such a scenario was extremely unlikely. He countered with the example of the wackos in Montana and elsewhere and I explained that the Christian mainstream works hard to distance itself from that type.
It got more disturbing from there. I repeated the example in my column that you can't walk into a Christian bookstore and buy videos glorifying abortion-clinic bombers. He said, "Yeah, but you can probably buy them on the Internet."
I thought, What? Where is he getting this stuff?
I realized not too long ago that what I should have said in answer to his up-in-arms question was "Short of massive invasion by a hostile foreign power, practically nothing." But it's only rarely that I come up with a really killer answer on short notice, and this afternoon was no exception. Luckily I had class right after the incident so I didn't get the chance to dwell on it.
It was disconcerting, though, and made all the more so by the fact that I like and respect this professor. He's normally a very laid-back guy, and his converstaion today was out of character. He seemed like I had pushed one of his buttons (which maybe I had), and he seemed unwilling to budge in his opinions in the face of information. I'm not pointing fingers here - Lord knows I've got no room for that - but it was odd.
Ah, well. I did get a lot of comments on the paper's Web site, though. Nice to know I've got people reading and responding.