Hate-Mail On The Web

A piece of hate-mail making the internet circuit these days expresses strong feelings  about the change in wording as a flag is presented to the family of a Korean War veteran. The wording has been changed from “On behalf of the President and a grateful nation …” to “On behalf of the Secretary of Defense and a grateful nation …” This seems a minor change in a ceremony designed to honor the fallen veterans of past wars. But not so for the 85 year-old uncle of a man who was obviously outraged by what he was hearing.

The nephew’s long and somewhat incoherent tirade is being read by millions of readers on the internet as I write this, though the thoughtful response to his diatribe is largely ignored. The nephew in incensed and tells his readers “Obama has taken off the gloves,” and he (the writer) is “ASHAMED” of his country. In the end he hopes the readers will “listen to the voice of reason” (!) which is a “welcome change from the insanity plastered across the country by the liberal media.”

The response to this diatribe comes from a trainer with the Army National Guard who carefully explains that the order to change the wording in the burial ceremony did not come from President Obama, but came in 2007 at the behest of then-President George W. Bush. So apparently President Obama still has his gloves on. As the trainer explains, “It was not a conspiracy to undermine the honors given to veterans, but to protect the oaths we are sworn to uphold.”  While the clarification is most interesting, the letter itself is not worth wasting time on except as a symptom of something deeper. What are we to make of this?

To begin with, of course, the internet makes it possible for all sorts of crazies to reach thousands, if not millions, of readers in minutes. This is not the first, nor will it be the last, harangue from the fingers of an out-of-control “victim” of what he or she perceives as a conspiracy to deprive them of their due. The “liberal media” will doubtless be blamed many times, even though the media are hardly “liberal” and might even lean a bit to the right, sponsored as they are by the corporations that are keen to capture and hold the minds of the buying public.

It is sad that the writer of this diatribe feels ASHAMED (his word in caps) of his country. But then as one of his readers I am ashamed (lower case) of this man’s uncontrolled rage — and his unwillingness to track down his sources and ferret out the truth of the matter before he goes public. But this sort of thing will be more and more frequent as we near elections in November. Hate-mongering, along with fear-mongering, is the name of the game. It works, as Rush Limbaugh has shown us again and again. It’s all about appeal to raw emotions. This letter might not even be the genuine article. It may be a hoax written to support a political candidate (any political candidate) who opposes President Obama in the coming election.

We should expect more of this vitriol, not less. The internet is open to this sort of thing, just as it is open to careful thought and precise expression. We need to learn to dismiss the former and welcome the latter. It is the price we pay living as we do in a day of instant communication, weak-minded citizens, and political candidates with unlimited funds and no moral scruples whatever.