Them's fightin' words
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The Spectator
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founded 2004 by ron cruger
Bill Barth
They don't like what they see
Punish conduct, not thought
Emotion. The enemy of reason
What's so scary about tea partiers?
Celebrate being alive
Yes. Be careful
Lessons to learn from conflict
No longer needed?
Why Americans are angry

This may come as a surprise, but practitioners of journalism rather frequently experience the arrival of what can only be called — in a clinical sense, of course — insane crap.

Since my name is at the top of the newsroom order for our particular enterprise, I get more than my share.

Sometimes it’s personal. I have one anonymous pen pal who has been writing to me for years. His (why do I assume the writer is male?) missives are addressed to “Honest Bill Barth,” though it takes but a glance to realize the honorific is meant to be derisive. I have to admit, though, the fellow is colorful. Consider:

• “Honest Bill is one part professional wrestler on TV, boorish loudmouth whose purpose is to entertain his handlers and other neo-cons, by writing hurtful things, and one part stage magician, whose purpose is to practice the art of misdirection.”

• “Honest Bill, you are somethin’ else … My Jesus forgives your Jesus for being a greedy, selfish Republican warmonger.”

• “Stop pretending not to salivate hourly, you conniver. I am getting very good feedback on your Honest Bill Drinking Game.”

Apparently, over many months my admirer tired of being ignored, so he began writing to one of our section editors.

• “Are you guys humiliated watching Honest Bill dance around like the organ grinder’s monkey every time the right wing noise machine freak show cranks out a new tune?”

• “As someone who works closely with a professional propagandist, it would seem that your intellectual curiosity would drive you to study more.”

Give this nut props for persistence, at least. We’ve been receiving these little postcards for two or three years.

I’m also used to getting notes from prisoners — you know, I’ve never received one from a guilty inmate. Odd.

Then there are the religious zealots. Sometimes they tell me I’m blessed by the angels. More often they call me the devil’s spawn.

Years back, I used to get regular letters which invariably would begin, “I greet you as the Almighty God …”

You know, it always seemed to me He would have better things to do with His time.

All that is to suggest I’m no virgin when it comes to hate mail, insane mail, or just plain weird mail.

So it surprises me when something crosses the desk that really, REALLY raises my blood pressure.

Here goes:

“Einstein wouldn’t celebrate Veterans Day as I never will either. I don’t glorify but rather vilify this perversion of a day that should be mourned for its stupidity … For what greater crime can be perpetuated upon mankind than that scourge of humanity, war? … How do we stop war? We stop warfare and terrorism by not participating in it. Difficult to do here when we paint our kids ‘noble’ and ‘heroes’ for slaughtering innocents, demolishing homes and occupying foreign lands. Especially when schools are required to report every name of every junior and senior to the Pentagon for recruitment in the goose-stepping military for cannon fodder. …”

This, of course, arrived this past week, just when Americans were remembering Veterans Day and all the contributions and sacrifices made in the name of freedom and liberty by our uniformed services.

I never wore the uniform. My oldest son did, without coming to harm, thank God. My family includes active duty and retired personnel.

Other families have been touched by the realities of conflict far more than mine. My heart goes out to them.

How any American can put the kind of words to paper that were written by this correspondent — I will leave the author unnamed — is beyond my comprehension. The words drip with hate and condemnation of this country and the men and women who serve it. What possibly could cause an individual to think that way?

One of the reasons I didn’t serve was because I grew up in the era of Vietnam and disagreed strongly with that war. No, I didn’t go to Canada. Yes, I would have served if drafted. But I sure wasn’t going to volunteer. And, by the way, I don’t feel any different today. Vietnam was a mistake. In my mind, so was Iraq. As for Afghanistan and its terrorist “guests,” who picked a fight with America, finding and shooting them has been a patriotic duty.

Agree or disagree with the politics of a given war, though, I have always honored those who served their country. A war can be fought when it shouldn’t. But the service of our soldiers always deserves respect.

Maybe that’s why my best golfing buddy, a combat infantry vet in Vietnam, and I get along just fine.

Now that I’ve got this off my chest, I can file the hate-vets garbage where it belongs, in the trash. Nuts I can tolerate. Hate-America types? Not so much. As they say down south, “Them’s fightin’ words.”