A few months ago I got an email from an old friend I had hardly seen for 40 years. We knew each other slightly in college, became friends in the Army and have seen each other maybe five times since 1966. Attached to his email was a forward explaining that our Muslim President was carrying out a carefully designed strategy to destroy the American economy to help enable Muslim jihadists to eventually take over our country and destroy our culture. This from a man with degrees from two esteemed southern universities.

I sent back a terse reply that said “Please tell me you don’t really believe this.” Instead of making a yes or no declaration he listed what he did believe, each recognizable as a “talking point” from that great source of fairness and balance, Fox News. The familiar story line was that Pelosi, Reed and Frank, now abetted by a president of dubious origins, created the economic crisis of 2008 and now all are committed to making it last as long as possible by creating massive public debt. Without attacking his logic or his sources (though I was dying to do so), and without vilifying any particular party, I told him, in some detail, how the economic crisis occurred, going back to some developments that occurred nearly twenty years ago.

His response was “What set you off? I don’t know anything about the Glass-Steadmann Act, CDOs, credit default swaps, or the difference between an investment bank and a commercial bank (the man has an MBA, for God’s sake!), and don’t see how any of that is relevant. I guess we just have a difference of opinion.”

“No”, I replied, “we have a difference between your feelings and my opinion.” I wanted to say a lot more but held back because I wasn’t ready to terminate a relationship of nearly half a century. But that must have been misplaced caution on my part. I haven’t heard from him since then, whereas he used to send 4 or 5 forwards a week.

That encounter started me thinking that maybe I should be more forthcoming with all my “friends” who show no restraint in distributing their political and social opinions to everyone with whom they have an electronic connection. Clearly they have no concern at all that they may be offending a few of us, and maybe I shouldn’t either. In my fantasy world I have drafted a notice that would go to all my Facebook “friends” – if I ever got up the courage to send it:

Dear FB friends – please do me a favor. If you are among the 52% of Republicans who believe that “President Obama is sympathetic to radical Muslims and their aims to impose Sharia law in the U.S.”; or, if you are among the 24% of Americans who believe that President Obama is himself a Muslim; or if you are one of the 18% who believe that President Obama was not born in the U.S., please, please unfriend me on FB today. Believe me, I do not want or need any kind of relationship with anyone so disconnected from truth and reality. If the above criteria aren’t sufficiently clear to you, then try this. If you watch Fox News regularly for any reason other than to see what those crazy blowhards are up to, hit the unfriend button for me. If you think Glen Beck is a great American, same button. If you hope to vote for Saran Palin for president, same button. If any of the above fits, I’m sure you are as eager to be rid of me as I am of you. I would do it myself except that I don’t know who you are; but you do. So, please, do me a favor.

  1. So all of those people who fall into those sizeable percentages may no longer communicate anything to you, and you will be happy to never grace them with a word from you in return for that favor? What does this accomplish except dividing into camps which slam the door on one another? What good does it do to cut off all chance of dialogue? Does it really benefit either group to become so cliquish and so divided?

    I’m wondering if part of the problem is that you don’t want to see that your misguided, delusional friends might be onto some small sliver of truth at times. I mean, could there be grains of truth to what they talk about, even if they have overshot? Might it be possible that you and your cronies overshoot as well, but that there are grains of truth (embellished as they undoubtedly have been into dogma) that your soon-to-be-ex-friends would do well to mull over and give real consideration to?

    Is it possible that both of you are a little right on some points and a little wrong on some points?

    I’m just not sure that the answer is to throw up walls and end all discussion. It might be that your friend was doing that… but I bet you are equally hard to appeal to and reason with, but you just don’t see it, so convinced are you that you’re the reasonable, fact-based, intelligent one – you and all of your camp. I’m betting that you don’t even stop to consider what strays even a hair from your party line.

    1. The POINT of the posting is that “those people” aren’t worth engaging for actual, demonstrated cases. The people addressed in the posting are BEYOND reason, DEAF to any possible words of reconciliation, and VIOLENTLY reproachful to any “heretical” words outside the black hole of their ideology. The author is turning away from proselytizing, not away from honest, open dialogue.

      This is not even open to debate; it is self-evident. Only a SEVERELY ideologically-afflicted person would suggest otherwise (going so far as passively-aggressively attacking the author while doing so.) You may be kidding yourself with that “why can’t we all just get along” crap, but you’re not fooling anyone beyond the eighth-grade reading level.

    2. “I’m just not sure that the answer is to throw up walls and end all discussion.”

      I am 100% certain that isn’t the answer… but the author’s point was that the walls had already been built, the discussion had already been ended.

      Challenge to you: when you receive one of these chain emails, do this BEFORE you hit forward: visit Snopes.com and search for a string of words from that letter. Then read the history of the “facts” and get the full benefit of all the “discussion” already finished.

  2. Cliff Green

    “What good does it do to cut off all chance of dialogue?”
    It means you don’t have to waste time talking with fools and liars, for one.

  3. All right, I give up. I thought that something better than simply lampooning “the other side” might be something to strive for.

    You guys can just talk amongst yourselves at this site as it looks like you are most comfortable doing. Proselytize away – by, for, and amongst yourselves, and fail to realize that you’re doing it… I obviously can’t change that.

    Anyone want my bumper sticker? I’ll mail it to you for a few bucks. I’d like to recoup even part of the cost. I should have been less impulsive in purchasing it.

    It was nice stopping by, but it looks like that’s all it’ll be. I won’t trouble anyone with eighth-grade-level “can’t we all get along” “crap” anymore.

    1. Billy Howard

      Vic: The Dew has many very strong, opinionated writers, of which I am one, but you continue to complain that there isn’t a counter voice while being that very counter voice. You want a site with countering opinions and continue to threaten to leave while providing the very voice you seek. It’s easy to dismiss the entire site, which by the way, is filled with great southern stories, essays, reviews, humor that have nothing to do with politics, but by leaving you will create a void for the very voice you want to see. In my opinion, it would be a loss for both of us.

    2. Vic: I personally would appreciate some honest-to-God discussions with some of my email friends on the subject of politics, especially those who don’t agree with me. The problem, and I think this is what the author was complaining about, is that too often “they” consider it done if they merely forward something to me that has been forwarded a gazillion times already, complete with squiggles and broken lines and a million email addresses likely already harvested. Then the text of the letter is usually something easily disproved by Snopes, and they are never open to actual discussion of any statement.

      So now we’re at a point where I can have these discussions with people who agree with me, and I assume that is likely true of the other side also. I do know this: there is no progress when anyone insists and persists in sending chain emails full of inflammatory errors.

      Suggestion: since you obviously believe that this site has too much of one side, why not write something yourself, taking one of your base beliefs and explaining it? Or continue with the “can’t we all get along thing” and suggest how this could be accomplished?

  4. Frank Povah

    Vic – from an outsider’s viewpoint the main problem seems to be that there is no longer any debate. If the so-called “leaders” of the country can’t sustain any sort of intelligent discourse on the pros and cons of policy measure, relying instead on opinion masquerading as news to do their work for them, the chances that the rest of the country engages in sensible discussion are pretty bloody slim.

    The current crop of political ads here in Kentucky are nothing more than childish name-calling and I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time before one of them comes up with: “My Dad is bigger than Candidate Y’s Dad”.

    Political pundits no longer bother to think before they speak. Chris Matthews last Sunday: “People are angry about…the economy…and BP deliberately destroying the Gulf.” He’s supposed to be an observer.

    This by the way was followed by an ad from, I’m guessing, the corn lobby, about biofuels saying that it would enable us to tell “the Middle East where to stick their [sic.] tankers”. A bit pointless isn’t it? How about telling the oil companies to get their collective acts together and stop price-fixing and artificial fluctuations in the cost at the bowser and spend money looking for real alternatives to their product? They, after all, have far more control over our destinies than the people whose land it happens to be in. Tell them where to stick their lousy business ethics along with their tankers and those of their shipping-cartel cronies.

    Sorry that I’ve strayed from the original point, but it’s all hairs on the same very sick dog. Oh, and by the way, Australian politics are going the same way thanks to Hewson and John ‘Bonsai’ Howard.

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