I don’t know who lives in the house not far from mine in my Chestnut Hill neighborhood, but I should really knock on their door one day and tell them that they never cease to amaze me.
The first time was on Election Day, when I spotted a pro-Trump sign, maybe the only one I’d seen around those parts until that morning. I remember staring at the sign, which seemed to materialize overnight, and realizing that a super-silent majority was about to turn our world upside down.
This week, another sign rose, at first glance a version of the ubiquitous “Hate Has No Home Here” signs, but upon closer inspection a not-so-subtle, right-leaning, middle finger directed at those inclusive messages.
“Love Lives Here. Love of God, Family, Friends, Country, Community & the U.S. Constitution.”
— Helen Ubiñas (@NotesFromHeL) June 7, 2017
Pack up your protest shoes, comrades. The revolution will be fought on our front lawns.
A little research later, I saw that talk-show host and Daily News columnist Dom Giordano had one of the creators of the sign on his radio program just a day before.
On the show, Giordano and Bob Gillies, a longtime Springfield Township commissioner who ran an unsuccessful bid for state rep, kibitzed over those dang city slickers moving into the ‘burbs with their liberal-leaning ideas and virtue-signaling signs.
“Influxers,” Giordano called them. “You guys need border guards to keep them from migrating from Philadelphia.”
To his credit, Gillies didn’t take the bait. He was just confused, he said, because “they came here because it’s better … but they won’t listen to us.”
I called Gillies the next day, ready to listen.
About those signs? I asked. (In case you’re interested, you can get one by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Gillies said he just didn’t like the negative implication of the signs that sprouted after “Trump’s immigration policy.”
“Travel ban,” I corrected.
“Immigration policy,” he maintained.
President Trump himself calls it a travel ban, I reminded him.
“Tomato, tomahto,” he responded.
His biggest problem with people who put up the original red and blue signs?
“So if no hate lives there, does that mean hate lives here?”
That seems like a leap. The way I read it, I told him, it means that if they are against hate, they’re against hate here, there, and everywhere. They are showing support for neighbors, especially after the wave of racist attacks since Trump’s election.
Love Lives Here*
*some restrictions may apply https://t.co/ixpEEIV1o6
— the nsa hater �� (@hspaulds) June 7, 2017
That set us off on a bit of a shouting match, with Gillies suggesting many of those reports weren’t true and I reminding him of the double murder in Portland, Ore., in which a man stabbed three people who were reportedly trying to stop a racist attack on two young Muslim girls.
It seemed a good time to talk about God.
Why God? I asked. Isn’t that cutting out people who might believe in someone or something else?
“First of all,” he clarified, “if you love God, you love everybody.”
My thoughts turned to the Westboro Baptist Church.
I found it interesting that the new signs included the Constitution when, on the television set right behind me, a constitutional crisis was playing out as former FBI Director James Comey was telling the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee his version of why the president fired him amid an agency probe into alleged Russian meddling.
“We’re not in the middle of a constitutional crisis,” Gillies scoffed. “Maybe a crisis of government, but not of Constitution.”
I don’t want to beat up on Bob. I’m sure he doesn’t like feeling marginalized or targeted or made to feel inferior, like so many people have in this country for so many years. Like so many people are feeling right now.
But I just don’t get why anyone would feel threatened by a sign that’s anti-hate.
“Absence of hate does not mean good things will happen,” he said. “Absence of hate does not mean love.”
The presence of love is no guarantee of something good happening, either.
Proof of that is in yet another lawn sign.
“Love trumps hate.”