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White, Rural Republican On Feeling Like A Minority In The Northwest


 
Jim Kolousek stands in front of his truck outside his home. 

  Jim Kolousek stands in front of his truck outside his home. 

John Rosman/OPB

James Kolousek retired from Intel a few years ago and lives in rural Gaston, Oregon.

He’s got a wife, two dogs, two grown kids — and very strong opinions.

“Yeah, I’d say I’m a white guy,” Kolousek said. “However, I don’t consider myself that. I’m not politically correct, and I’m getting real tired of this African-American, Mexican-American, blah-American, whatever. So when somebody asks me what I am, I’m a bohemian-American.”

Kolousek’s ancestors came from Eastern Europe. He doesn’t understand why anyone from anywhere would call themselves anything but American. No hyphens needed.

“My heritage is from Bohemia, from the Czech Republic,” he said. “Just like Joe Schmuck over here, his family is from Africa, but he was born here. He’s not an African-American, he’s American. He’s no different than I am.”

Kolousek is a Republican. Sometimes, he says, that makes him feel like a minority.

“There are more Democrats, more liberal Democrats in Oregon, than Republicans. So physically, I am a minority. I’m trying as I get older to be a little more tolerant of people and listen. I’m finding that sometimes that doesn’t always come back to me. Sometimes I feel pretty well attacked.”

Kolousek doesn’t just wear his opinions on his sleeve — he keeps them plastered on the bumper and back window of his truck. He relishes a debate. But he says that’s not always what he gets. Take, for example, his recent experience at a Home Depot in Hillsboro. At the time, he had two stickers on his vehicle.

“One said ‘I don’t believe the liberal media,’ and the other said something like, ‘Demand the liberal media tell the truth.’  This gentleman across the parking lot starts yelling at me: ‘You don’t know anything, the media and this and that, and all you listen to is Fox News and blah blah blah.’

“I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve never had this happen before.’ It was great. I said, ‘Hey, let’s talk.’ He  just went off about all this stuff about Fox News and about these bumper stickers. When I tried to engage this person, they turned their back and walked in the store. He did not want to approach me. Now, in all fairness, maybe he saw my NRA sticker and thought I was going to shoot him. I don’t know.”

Recently, Kolousek added another bumper sticker, a bright blue one that says “Police Lives Matter.” It’s meant in the same vein same as calling himself a bohemian-American rather than white.

“Police are in a no-win situation. If you don’t shoot, then somebody dies, if you do shoot, you get castigated. It’s terrible. Are there bad apples in the barrel? You bet. But I don’t believe the police are out there just randomly killing black people.”

So what does he think when he sees a Black Lives Matter sign?

“All lives matter. All lives matter. I think a lot of politicians are using race and fomenting a racial tension for political means, I hate that.

“I think both sides do, I think the Democrats tend to do it more.”

On that note, Kolousek recently added one more sticker to his collection. It indicates his pick in the presidential race. Donald Trump wasn’t his first choice. Kolousek doesn’t love the way the Republican presidential candidate expresses himself sometimes. But when Hillary Clinton talked about a “basket of deplorables,” Kolousek took it very personally.

“God, that made me mad. That made me so mad. I’m not a racist. I’m not a homophobe. I’m not a this or a that. I don’t agree with certain things. I’m someone who has an opinion, and I’m entitled to that.

“Once again, you’re creating a bunch of tension among groups. You’ve got the pro-homosexual people and the anti-homosexual people. You’ve got the pro-gun people and the anti-gun people.

“Why can’t we all just work together for the good of the country? And agree to disagree?”

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