I remember the very first time I got hate mail for something I wrote.
I was 16 and had just landed a gig as a junior columnist at a local newspaper. I wrote about everything from school issues to exchange programs and cultural profiles—by and large it was pretty chill, uncontroversial stuff. I was so young and inexperienced (incidentally, social media didn’t exist yet), and it just hadn’t entered my naïve calculus that someone might actually tell me when they hated something I wrote.
And when that email landed in my inbox, I was stunned. It was oddly terse and mean for an email about some meaningless column on a relatively benign subject.
I’d love to be able to go back those many years ago, and tell the younger me, “Girl, seriously—enjoy that email. Relish it. Soak it up. Print it out and frame it for your wall, because it’s one of the nicest pieces of “hate mail” you’re ever going to get.
Fast-forward to this past week, when I was thinking about how I wanted to explain the post-inauguration “Women’s Marches” to my daughter who would doubtless hear about them someday. So, I wrote her a letter.
And what ensued was thousands of comments, emails and tweets—a vast number of them just plain vile. (One woman even told me she hoped President Trump would “rape me,” but she’s since deleted it. Yeah, real brave.)
As the comments poured in, I watched. And I learned 3 things:
- I’m ashamed to say this of my gender, but women are cruel. For all the talk of how men are the insensitive ones, they can’t hold a candle to the contemptible, endless stream of meanness I saw free-flowing from the mouths of thousands of women. I mean, WOW. Just wow.
- There is no group less tolerant than left-leaning America. Period.
- There is no group more willing to engage in civil dialogue than right-leaning America. Period. To be certain, there are a few rude ones thrown in there, but as I watched the comments pour in, time and again I saw those in my camp imploring people to be kind, to leave the vile comments off the table—I even saw one person invoke the Golden Rule, as well as the age-old “if you don’t have anything nice to say… don’t say anything at all” axiom—all while being told to go and “eat d*** you stupid b*tch.”
We’re a massive, incredibly diverse country—so I know I’m never going to get everyone to agree with me (in fact I’d be seriously questioning whether or not we just entered The Twilight Zone if that happened). But what in the WORLD ever happened to civil dialogue? I can practically count on one hand the number of people on the other side genuinely interested in talking. And on some rare occasions, I was able to. And while neither convinced the other of our respective positions, it didn’t end in a steaming pile of pigswill. Those were anomalies.
I write political commentary. I get it—it’s what I signed up for. But isn’t that sad? Isn’t it just sick that this is the state of American dialogue in 2017? It’s simply animalistic.
Let’s run down the list, shall we?
I’m a horrible parent whose kid “really lost out on the mommy lottery,” and who should “STOP BREEDING NOW”:
I hate women and am a “lazy, sad example” of the gender:
I am a “c*nt,” and an “utter, fu**ing dumb***” whose husband is “probably having an affair”:
I am white. Therefore #racism:
I’m clearly a dude:
I’m blinded by my privilege:
I should have been aborted:
I’ll just let that sit there.
It seems fitting to reiterate one of the lessons I’m teaching my daughter—one of the points so quickly ignored by my friends on the other side:
“I’ll teach you how to disagree strongly and firmly—but honorably.”
And this small peak into liberal “tolerance” has just become Part II of my daughter’s how-to (or rather, how-NOT-to) guide to being a civil adult and a strong, decent woman.
And before you who so tactfully graced my walls with this garbage scream “weenie!!!!” let me be clear: I’m not writing this because I’m curled up sobbing in the fetal position with a carton of half-eaten Ben and Jerry’s on the floor, and I need some feel-goods from my buddies on the right. I’m writing this because these people need to be exposed for the disgraces they are. More importantly, I’m writing this because I know I’m not the only one taking flak.
World War II pilots had a saying: you know you’re over the target when you start taking flak. Well fellow mommas raising their kids like mine; fellow Christians; fellow Conservatives, hear me loud and clear:
Do not give up. Do not SHUT UP. Do not let them bully you into silence.
Stay the course.
Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show (TheBlaze Radio Network, M-F, 3-5. ET). She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree