Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Oh, dear. I got an email forward today from my old pet-sitter back in Miami. I liked her so much; she was a lovely person who loved Bella and Fred and cared for them like they were her own. The email subject heading said, "Fwd: Do you agree or not?"

I usually just delete this stuff, but she hasn't emailed me since last February. I thought it might be something about dog-fighting (HUGE problem in Miami. Huge.) or Greyhound racing (Also, big down there) or ordinances about pitbulls (Dade County has a law that if you own a pitbull, they will confiscate it and put it down. Doesn't matter if it's a stray or 3 days old or a certified Therapy International dog. They will take it and kill it and fine the person in possession $500, no questions asked.) We all know Florida is scary. Last year, I could have called my blog "floridaisscary.blogspot.com")

But this is what the email said: "It is said that 86% of Americans believe in God. Therefore I have a very hard time understanding why there is such a mess about having "In God We Trust" on our money and having God in the Pledge of Allegiance. Why don't we just tell the 14% to Sit Down and SHUT UP!!!" If you agree, pass this on, if not delete."

Obviously, this gets my ol' Liberal Hackles way up. 1.) To launch into a treatise about the damaging nature of unfounded blanket generalizations, stereotypes and anonymous statements like, "It is Said..." and 2.) To question the biased, undocumented statistic that lies at the heart of this email would be preaching to the choir here and 3.) To discuss the challenges, the threats even, that school-aged youth who opt not to participate in so-called "Acts of Patriotism" face when they even consider an act of resistance would be preaching to the choir here. (And yet, it seems I can't help myself...) In fact, to extend the simile, it would just be like asking the choir to deliver the sermon themselves, I think.

So do I just delete it and chalk it up to the General Vortex of Rampant Ignorance swirling around just about everywhere these days? And if I do, does that mean that I sat down and did, in fact, "SHUT UP!!"? Do I try to craft a thoughtful response, at least to the person who sent it to me, with whom I have a personal connection, in hope of engaging in a productive dialogue? Could I even do that in a neutral way when I am so dismayed at the level of smugness and presumption in the email she forwarded?

Do I think about everything too much in general? Maybe I should just go back into an Ivory Tower, become a women's studies professor, use words like "praxis" and "Other-ing" on a daily basis and tell myself I AM making a difference in my Cozy Haven of Social Change by introducing 18-year-olds to the notion of social justice by assigning them "reader responses" to Jonathan Kozol books. In which case, I am going to need some colorful scarves and at least three pairs of dangly, dramatic earrings.

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