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.