Maybe it was jet lag. But the scene seemed a bit surreal: The African-American hawker selling "Donald 'F- - - - - -' Trump" buttons, the young Hispanic guy with the "Build a Wall" T-shirt, the grinning fellow of Chinese descent strategically placed behind the podium.
I had stepped off a flight from the United Arab Emirates just 12 hours earlier. Now, improbably, I found myself at a Donald Trump rally. I had expected the sea of white faces - flecked with camo, Confederate flags, biker leather, and National Rifle Association logos - in the crowds, eagerly awaiting their hero. But the fact that the majority of the Trump supporters were polite and well-dressed, not a bunch of obscenity-screaming loonies, and included a few assorted people of color, had me wondering if I wasn't suffering the effects of sleep deprivation.
I was jolted back to reality the moment the Republican nominee came into the arena. I have spent the past two weeks in Pakistan and the Middle East, steeped in the geopolitical complexities of the region, a place painted in shades of gray. Now I was back in Trump's world of black and white.