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March 17, 2004

From the mailbag

Aren't you a wonderful American not to comply with the draft laws and anything else that's American (Are You an American?). Why don't you go to the middle east as a human sheild? What a wonderful story you could write about that. If you are to chicken for that too, PLEASE stay in beautiful liberal Ca. I hear it's dropping off the face of the earth soon.
Norma Kelosky

My reply:

Not a bad attempt at reactionary hate mail, though I'll have to deduct points for spelling errors.

And a few extra points for ignorance of American history. One of the main reasons people emigrated to this beautiful land was to escape oppressive conscription in their home countries. Draft-dodging is a great American tradition. Ask your president.

But I wasn't a draft dodger. I was willing to face the consequences of my actions. I could have easily sat out the issue, waited for the draft to start, and gotten an exemption based on education or ability to sway a draft board. Instead, I took a principled stand. I don't expect people to agree with that stand, of course, but calling it cowardice betrays a gross misunderstanding of what the word means.

More importantly: how dare you question my love for this country? I am an American. I've traveled my country's length and breadth. I've lived on both coasts and in the middle. I've stood with my thumb out on the side of the road in Wyoming blizzards, slept in weed patches next to barbed wire fences in Kentucky, eaten out of dumpsters, and still talked with Republican Interior Secretaries and foreign ambassadors and governors, pulled myself up from poverty to a reasonable level of comfort and access to those who make the decisions. I could not have done that in any other country.

Well, maybe Canada, or Sweden, or — dare I say it? — France.

Still, I love this country enough that I'm very concerned at the recent trend to redefine love of country as uncritically repeating FoxNews' lie of the day. I would suggest to you that your apparent fear of tolerating views different from your own is a more pernicious form of cowardice than anything you might ascribe to me. Fortunately, people like you — though you're getting a lot of airplay at the moment — are a dwindling minority.

Generations of Americans have fought and died to give me — and you — the right to voice our opinions as we see fit. My great grandfather, and his father, for example, who fought in the Civil War to free the slaves. (They were French, by the way.) And others, thousands of them, some in the military and some in civilian life, gave their lives to guarantee our freedom.

That freedom is an incredibly valuable legacy. And I'll be damned if I let inconsequential hateful little people like yourself take that freedom away. What greater dishonor to those who died for freedom than to spurn their gift?

Posted by Chris Clarke at March 17, 2004 07:41 AM TrackBack URL for this entry:

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*standing ovation*

Only one thing ya got wrong, though: it ain't genuine winger hate mail _without_ the misspellings. ;)

Posted by: Rana at March 17, 2004 01:14 PM
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Well, being Mr Buddhist Online & all, I deleted my first comment, which ran along Rana's line, and which ratified solidified & intensified all my anger about this sort of thing...

So instead I'll say how sorry I am. I don't think I'll ever forget the sting of being called "traitor" by people, back in the 'Nam years. Sure they were generally stupid and easy to outargue like this (not that they would ever listen) -- but we do love our country, and being called a traitor is wounding, no matter how shallow the name-caller. It's marked me politically for life, I think, and left a smoldering anger that thirty years hasn't extinguished.

I vowed back then that I would never call anyone a traitor, unless I had solid evidence they were deliberately selling out their country, intentionally damaging it. I've had to bite my tongue a couple times, to not call certain politicos and corporate people traitors -- but I'm glad, on the whole, that I've kept up the discipline. I can think they're damaging it without assuming they mean to.

Posted by: dale at March 17, 2004 01:49 PM
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Yes, I think you put your hate mailer in her place. How sad, these people who feel the need to belittle others with which they don't agree.

Posted by: Robert at March 17, 2004 02:01 PM
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I'm so disappointed that I don't get great hate mail like that.

Nice response.

Posted by: The Bone at March 22, 2004 11:59 AM
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