Saturday night while absorbing the disturbing news pouring out of Arizona I reached my own breaking point. Having personally tolerated the media vitriol for much too long, Jared Loughner’s action only confirmed my fears that enough “Fox Newspeak” would cause damage in the world. So I did something I try not to do; I picked up my mobile devise and opened up Twitter to post an angry entry. It was a simple statement;
“#giffords and all the collateral damage is tragic & I blame #palin.”
I put my phone down and got ready for bed. By the time I crawled under the blankets I saw my phone blinking. It’s hard to resist that little light tempting you with every passing wink so I took one last look and found a note waiting for me on Twitter.
It read; “and if anything happens to Palin, I’ll hold you responsible, hypocrite”
I could feel the ire rise in my gut as I re-read the message. The hair on the back of my neck pricked with indignation and my comportment became that of a cat ready for fight. I felt under attack just as assuredly as if this guy were physically coming at me with a 2×4.
I am a nice person and I try to stick to relatively benign posts because I really don’t like stirring the pot that much but hypocrite?! Was I being hypocritical? No, I don’t think I was–based upon my understanding of the definition of a hypocrite*. But I had to ask, after berating myself for posting under the influence of rage, was I in the wrong somehow? I decided to sleep on it rather than fire back an off-the-cuff reply. Needless to say I did not sleep well that night. Visions of Twitter feeds slipped in and out of my awareness. Vague feelings of aggression and fear tugged at my temples. Witty come-backs and impassioned diatribes filled my mind as I composed the perfect Tweet to this twit from Texas.
Morning came and in my hazy grogginess with phone in one hand and coffee in another I swyped my reply.
“the day I run national ads citing violence on specific people u may call me hypocrite. Ms. P must account for her words & deeds.” And I went on with my day. I found myself checking Twitter more than ever before in my life. There was something thrilling and maddening about this cross-country argument before an audience of anonymous millions.
The day passed and as the sun set his reply came screaming out of the ether into the devise I was holding in my hand; “actually, twitter is international. Your insipid comments know no borders. And you are asking for violence against Palin.” Several things happened for me in that moment. First off, I got pissed. But the longer I studied his message and gazed at his profile picture taken while he was driving his car the more it dawned on me that here was a human being. He was obviously passionate about his beliefs and maybe he had just about enough of this nonsense too. Compassion welled up within me. He didn’t like my post, I reasoned, it was perceived as a threat to his beloved former Governor of Alaska. Maybe all he wants to do is protect her. I tried to understand how “blame Palin” had become translated by this guy into “violence against Palin”
I don’t want anyone to get violent on anyone. I never called for that! And the moment of clarity rang ever deeper: this man is not responding to me. He’s responding to ‘the other’ that I represent for him. The ‘other’ that he learned to mistrust and fear and hate. Truth be told I was relating to him in the same light.
My urge to counter attack lessened. “i never said that, you did” my tweet began. “but u r right, I was reactionary & should know better than to post a Tweet when upset. Peace”
End of conversation, for him at least. To date, I’ve never heard back from him which actually makes me sad. The following day I sent him a message:
“so let’s open up a new dialogue. What is your take on the attack on Rep. Giffords? What do we learn from this?”
Then 8 hours later:
“I’m honestly looking for common ground. I want to hear ur thoughts about our current situation. Repairing the world starts here”
And the next morning:
“sad that you seem to only want to insult & not engage in genuine dialogue. I tried.”
Don’t ask me to explain why I still carry this guy around with me but I do: a young Republican, active in his Texas community, probably religious. I wonder what he’s like when he’s not warding off evil liberals like me. I wonder if we’d enjoy each others company if we met and agreed to talk about anything but politics. I wonder what he reads at night. I wonder if we really could just get along.
*hypocrite-adj: 1- a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion. 2- a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.
Cited from Websters Dictionary.com