Thursday, April 11, 2013

"Just Wondering...'"

Sometimes, the answer is unequivocally in the question.  Yes, there’s the “rhetorical question”, where the answer, by its construction, is implied by the question, as in “Would you like to have a punch in the nose?” to which the answer, except for masochists, is the overwhelmingly intended, “No, thank you.” 

But I’m talking about something different.  I’m talking about a question wherein the answer is obvious, but that answer does not make sense.

For some time now, I have been receiving, on an almost daily basis, e-mails from – I am making a judgment here, but their content, I believe, reflects its correctness – extreme Right Wing organizations.  My name has, apparently, been included on some type of targeted mailing list. 

Leading to the preliminary wondering:  If somebody like me is on the targeted mailing lists of these extreme Right Wing organizations…

Who isn’t?

“Don’t send one to Obama.”

“Anyone else?”

“Michelle.  But that’s it.”  

I kind of like getting e-mail.  It means somebody knows I’m here.  When an AOL “mail bing” goes off and I see a number in the twenties in the little red circle, I get excited to see that so many people are writing to me. 

I imagine companions from the past I’ve lot contact with.  Blog commenters with effusive compliments.  (Or quibbles.  Quibbles are good too.)  Secret admirers – I am always hoping for one of those.  One?  Why be stingy?  A club full! 

An entire website dedicated to me.  Wouldn’t that be loverly!
What I actually receive, however, numerically more than any other category of e-mails, are missives from, well, in the past two days, I’ve heard from The Second Amendment Foundation, Conservative Actions Alert, GOP Contacts Alert, Tea Party Contacts, Conservative Daily (with their “Daily Sanity” reports), Citizens Committee For the Right To Keep and Bear Arms and The Minuteman Project  (“The Common Sense Gun Lobby.”) 

I am not entirely ungrateful.  I say to these organizations, “Thank you for thinking about me.”  And why not?  Without them, I’d be receiving seven fewer e-mails. 

These guys are my “stocking stuffers.”  They make me feel good by inflating my self-perceived popularity, my thinking:  They must like me; they’re sending me e-mail. 

Not only that, but these e-mails are teaching me things.  I’m learning about the Obama Administration’s drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies the right to examine our personal finances. 

I’m learning about the economic collapse that will be visited upon us in months, and the murderous consequences to my myself and my family that will inevitably ensue. 

I’m learning about “Obamacare Madness” – Forty Percent Tax on Healthcare Plans –  and the Obamacare Survival Guide billionaire Donald Trump says is a “must- read.”

I’m learning how President Obama wants to “rule by dictatorship”, and how “the Obama administration agenda is on a steamroller effect to go against the will of the American people.”

I’m learning how “Obama is unrelenting in his push for the gradual disarmament of the American people.”

And much, much more.

Yes, the language is a little overheated, the claims of the current government’s plans for us is less than fully supported by the facts, and the fear of our imminent national collapse is, possibly, exaggerated.  And that’s where my question that has the answer already in it comes from?  

With this method of communication, which rises beyond the “informational” to… I don’t know, something a little more partisan, is the disseminators of these communications’ purpose to attract “independents”, or are they merely trying to energize their base?

The answer, if you’re at all objective, seems rather clearly to be that the disseminators are attempting to energize their base.  That’s the easy one.  The next question is trickier, and I must candidly admit I do not have the answer.

I consider myself an open-minded person, albeit with left-leaning tendencies.  What that means is, despite this admitted proclivity, I remain eminently persuadable by a well-reasoned argument.  The e-mailers, reflected by the fact that they are bothering to connect with me, appear to be interested in converting me to their side. 

The question is, given their dim view of anyone who doesn’t agree with them, and more importantly, their molten mode of communication…

How do they ever expect to win me over?

1 comment:

Lord Lillis said...

Ah, a perfect time to "break cover". As William Frawley said in "Miracle on 34th Street": "I'm no legal brain trust. I don't know a habeas from a corpus. But I do know politics. That's my racket.". In the 80s and 90s I was a known (some would say notorious) local conservative. I had to move left to join the Republican party. These days I don't fit in any neat category so I'm generally ignored (which is fine for now - I've just started a family).

The answer to "why are you getting those e-mails" - you are on an anti-gun-control list. Did you sign into any anti-gun control site? Perhaps you were doing some research of the "other side" and gave them your e-mail during registering for the website? The list of names you've posted give it away. There are a similar bunch for anti-immigration and anti-abortion. This is not a "right-wing thing" though. If you gave your e-mail to NARAL or La Raza you'd be pelted with similarly dyspeptic messages from the other side of the political spectrum (in fact you might want to do so to make your junk mail fashionably balanced).

"Polemic" is the word you are seeking but as for their purpose I have no idea. I can't see them "energizing the base" - I find them annoying and I agree with most of them. I can only imagine how they come across to someone who might disagree. But anyone with a computer and a grievance can create a website so perhaps it shouldn't surprise that those with the strongest feelings, rather than the strongest arguments, are the ones who should be most prominent in your in-box. It doesn't help that the majority of more temperate right-wing types (i.e. the ones without the foil hats) tend to have the technical abilities of…you (no offense). This means that, on the technology front, the tin-hat-brigade is disproportionately represented.

If you are looking for more thoughtful discourse (you know, for research purposes) there are a few sites available and they will send you e-mail if you ask nicely. National Review Online and American Spectator are two which leap immediately to mind. Ricochet is an excellent one but there's a slight fee for access so you may wish to give it a pass. If you're interested in Canadian right-wingery I can recommend the National Post comment site. I read it frequently and, yes, I'm the only person on my block who can speak at length about Preston Manning.

And as for anyone who has something snide or mean about these messages I'll ask: do you want a punch in the nose?