Hate Emails

Ideas and Issues Personal Writings

Bangkok        Working my way back to the States now and in the mystery and magic of these things, I end up in a fleabag hotel in Bangkok tonight in order to save $300-400 dollars in airfare on my way back home.  Tomorrow a 4 AM wakeup call gets me into a taxi at 445 and off to Tokyo, then Chicago, and then Houston by Friday night.  Life is good.

    Why makes me wonder, why the hate and anger out there?

    I have been reflecting about this as the daily news reports continue to run at record levels as the right wingers accuse Obama, ACORN, me, and everyone this side of heaven for everything imaginable.  The hate frenzy is fed by the new way that newspapers on-line engage their readers, by letting all of the nut bags post their insane comments right behind the article.  These “alert” news services have a simple business model which searches the internet for the mention of whatever you are looking for.  Since all of this rant is on the internet, hundreds of largely crank comments come cascading into my in-box from the whacks writing out there.

    All of which is fine and I can handle with grace or simply ignore.

    Recently, though in the white-hot anger over the bailout bonanza, the right has taken to blaming the Community Reinvestment Act and people like me and organizations like ACORN for somehow creating the crises because we made banks make loans and make big bucks off our members.  I hope you can follow this, because I sure can’t!  I gather while I have been out of the country that there must have been some press about some small whiff of the $700 billion being used to help folks get assistance on foreclosure forbearance, and that means ACORN, and that means that there is a special of crazy cranks on the internet being whipped up the wing nuts out there.

    All of which is part of the grist for the mill, and I’m also fine with that as well.

    Except that there is an exception, when they start tracking down my email and sending me personal notes.  Over recent days I’ll get 2 or 3 of these missile missives every day and on a really big, virulent day, I’ll get even more.  

    The basic gist of them falls into two categories both of which have to do with either short or extended travel.  In one stack are all of the people that tell me in no uncertain terms because of the bailout or “election fraud” or Obama being a terrorist, I’m going to jail.   In the other stack are all of the people who tell me I’ll be taking a longer ride to hell without coming back.

    Ok, I can live with that too, frankly.

    But, the ones who really gall me and get my goat, are the ones that write to me as Dear Wade, and then drop Wade a couple of times into their screed, and if somehow we were cousins, neighbors, or friends, and this is just what you do to someone you know….bang out an hate email and sent it over the internet to Wade Rathke, perfect stranger.  What ticks me is the presumption and condescending tone.  I keep resisting the urge to respond immediately and scream:  YOU DON’T KNOW ME!  And, then follow that with a couple of definitely non-family style expletives suggesting what they can do with their ridiculous comments.

    I don’t mind taking one for the team, since all of that goes with the job.  In the new world of “if I think it, I’ve already posted it on-line for the world,” I worry about the deterioration of civil discourse and the weaker spirits that simply don’t want to be part of what Herbert Marcuse famously called, “the flesh eating machine” of the media.  

    The anonymous sock puppets hiding behind laptop screens penning evil hate-arations are worrisome since there is no filter or reality check to any of this.  If the right wing screeds say that something “might be true,” there are then legions of followers who jump to the conclusion without accountability or rationale that then something must be true.  Every wisp of smoke, rather than being nothing but the air around it, is assumed to conceal a certain fire.

    This is a dangerous world creating a toxic public forum.