One interesting aspect of writing a newspaper column is reader letters and emails. Lately, mine have been more supportive and friendly than not. I usually try to respond, although I’ve fallen down on the job of late. So, if you’ve sent me a fan letter and haven’t heard back, my apologies. I do read them all. Especially the ones from people who are fond of cows.
Oddly, given the state of permanent outrage in which many Trumpers appear to live, it’s been months since I’ve gotten a death threat. Maybe that’s because it’s pretty much impossible to send an anonymous email. You can create a false identity, but it’s harder to disguise where a message has originated. People learn these things from watching CSI programs on TV.
Then there are the ones from people who claim they refuse to read my offerings but are outraged anyway. They tend to be online tough guys. Here’s a classic of the genre:
“Just when I didn’t think you could say anything stupider, I never read your articles just your stupid headlines because it’s when I turn the page how can you say Trump’s mental health when you’ve been looking at four years of the most stupid man ever as president as a former marine combat infantry man I despise the fact your even in my country, get the [bleep] out my country you Commie!!!”
Well, it’s my country too, Ace. None of my friends who are former Marines appear to think their service has given them ownership rights. But then they don’t brag about their service, either, so it makes me wonder about the true extent of our hero’s combat experience. The figure of the miles gloriosus, or braggart soldier, has been a stock character in comedy since the Roman dramatist Plautus wrote a play with that title circa 206 B.C.
Shakespeare’s Sir John Falstaff is perhaps the most famous example: a blowhard and a rascal who considers honor and courage delusions.
A bit like Trump, actually, but much funnier.
It’s also remarkable how many are stymied by what I call the Mystery of the Apostrophe. You know, as in “your” Trump Derangement Syndrome [or TDS] vs. “you’re a Commie.” Sixth-grade stuff.
Speaking of elementary school, my son Gavin’s invariable response when he got his hand caught in the cookie jar was, “What about Doug?” Doug being his younger brother, equally prone to foraging for treats.
Just so my aggrieved correspondents, who ask, “What about Joe?”
A classic example, politer than most: “You completely ignore the facts regarding your man, Joe Biden’s, continuous and accelerating cognitive decline and focus on the mental decline of Donald Trump. Yes, it’s true that he spouts off ridiculous, misleading and sometimes dangerous statements, but you, as a member of the liberal state-run democratic media, are scared to death that Trump may win the election and COMPLETELY IGNORE the daily gaffes, errors, lies and total decline of Biden’s mental ability and capacity. I long for the days when the media was unbiased and reported facts, not just your slanting of what you consider to be facts that you believe that the general public needs to know according to your agenda.”
You’ve got to love that “state-run democratic media” part. I can’t decide what’s more foolish: this fellow’s seeming belief that the small-city Tennessee newspaper where he found my column is part of the “state-run democratic media” or that I’m in it for the big bucks.
“Of course it is clear to me and others that you do this for the $$$’s. It’s easy to profit by spewing hate on a popular figure.”
What’s clear to me is that this fellow — one of several who made similar accusations — has no idea what’s been going on in the news media since the advent of the internet. Newspapers have been going out of business in droves.
Many also appear to have no concept of the distinction between news coverage and opinion columns, which are expected to be factual, yes, but also opinionated. What I’m still waiting for is a single correspondent who can identify a factual error in the column that set them off, which concerned Trump’s crazy confusing of former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and his Republican primary opponent Nikki Haley.
What made Trump’s “gaffe” truly outrageous is that the whole thing was based upon a particularly brazen and thunderous lie. Specifically, that there was ever a phone conversation between then-President Trump and anybody at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, regarding military protection for Congress.
Did not happen. Trump made no such call. Pelosi never received one.
Haley bore no responsibility and was nowhere in the vicinity.
I’ve challenged several of my correspondents to show me any remotely similar episode involving Biden. One guy said he once called Kamala Harris “President Harris.”
Arkansas Times columnist Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of “The Hunting of the President” (St. Martin’s Press, 2000). You can email Lyons at firstname.lastname@example.org.