Thursday, November 10, 2005

So today I kicked a hornet's nest.

I was sitting here at work this afternoon, reading my e-mails, when I saw the following e-mail in my inbox:
Subject: Seeing Red?

Subject: Wear RED!

RED FRIDAYS ----- Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing Red every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the "silent majority". We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or over-bearing. We get no liberal media coverage on TV, to reflect our message or our opinions. Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of America supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that.. Every red-blooded American who supports our men and women afar, will wear something red. By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the United States on every Friday a sea of red much like a homecoming football game in the bleachers. If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, co-workers, friends, and family. It will not be long before the USA is covered in RED and it will let our troops know the once "silent" majority is on their side more than ever, certainly more than the media lets on.
The first thing a soldier says when asked "What can we do to make things better for you?" is...We need your support and your prayers. Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example; and wear some thing red every Friday.

Now... any regular reader here might guess that an e-mail such as this might just push a button or two with me.

And let me tell you, you would be right.

So, here was my inevitable response, mass mailed out to the entire tribal government (well over 200 people, as the above e-mail had been):
While I’d like to point out first off that I do support our troops, I’d like to share some history and facts in response to this e-mail.

First off, we’ll point out a few things… the color Red, which aside from representing the blood of patriots who died forging our freedoms, also happens to be the Republican party color.

Then the reference to the “Silent Majority”, which comes from a speech by former U.S. President Richard Nixon addressing the war in Viet Nam. ( ... silent-majority-speech-1969.shtml) This is actually somewhat poignant if you contrast it with the current events of the war in Iraq.

Also, I fail to see a valid reason to link faith with God to supporting our troops in Iraq. Or even necessarily to support the current administration's foreign policy in order to support our troops. Our troops are brave men and women who have chosen for any number of reasons to put their lives on the line in defense of their loved ones, their fellow countrymen and the ideals of Freedom and Liberty. Whether or not I agree with the causes behind the war in Iraq, which I do not, I still have the utmost respect for those men and women who have chosen to put their lives on the line to defend my life and liberty as they see it.

I consider myself a patriot and regularly defend the ideals posited by the founding fathers etc… but I do not agree that it should somehow be requisite to proclaim faith in the Christian God, or refrain from any criticism of the actions of the current Presidential Administration in order to consider yourself a true patriot.

Some further things to consider:

“Under God” was not added to the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954, and was done so in violation of the principles of the Founding Fathers and the United States Constitution. ( ... printer_preview.asp?idArticle=3264&R=C7A618B14)

Patriotism without question is a dangerous venture. (

The original motto of our country was “E Pluribus Unum”, “Out of many, (come) one.” This statement celebrates the diversity of beliefs and ethnicities of the American people, a people who can be patriots and support their troops regardless of race, gender, creed etc.

Putting such a constant emphasis on “Under God” and religion and faith in relation to discussing support for our troops only serves as a means of dividing the people between Christian Patriots (or other monotheistic Abrahamic religious beliefs) and non-Christian people who are implied to not be patriots if they don’t share the same religious beliefs.

In closing, I would like to encourage everyone to support our troops in Iraq… they are good men and women who have been put in a terrible position, and many are dying as a result. But I would rather address the reasons they are there, and hope for their return rather than just cheering for them while they fight and die.

Let’s also not forget that while most Americans do support the troops, the majority of Americans no longer support the War in Iraq after finding out that Saddam and the Iraqi people really had nothing to do with 9/11, and that Saddam was not a threat to the United States etc. Supporting the troops does not mean supporting the war.

I think the ending of that e-mail also says something… it gives the options of agreeing and spreading it, or not caring and deleting it. How about having a different viewpoint? Sharing opinions?


How about we help each other to understand the history and culture of our nation, of the people who lived here before we did, of the many different religious beliefs that make up our society… the many different people… and also those of the people we now treat as enemies… may we help each other to learn, to understand, and to live together in peace, under the same sky.

Thank you.
Shortly after this was sent, people started stopping me in the halls to thank me for sending this out, and a flood of overwhelmingly positive e-mails started coming in. So far I've had only one negative response, and oh was that person unhappy with me. :-/

I'll let their response stand on it's own merit, along with my subsequent reponse.
Oh my God Justin, get over it, while you are here in your cushier job, you are very eligible for service too, as anyone of us. This mumble on, shows that for e-mail list, you are not to be involves. Just spit it out and save your jargon for the political area, as for e-mails I don’t care either.


Your Coe-worker that don’t give an either too.

to which I replied:
For the record, no, I am not eligible for service. I have a medical history of Asthma as a child and am therefore legally ineligible for military service, this comes as a result of actually contacting a recruiter when I was 19 and attempting to test in and being informed of the law forbidding my enlistment.

I’m sorry that you were offended by my e-mail. Thanks for your response.
and her closing reponse:
Too much information, end of e-mail. sk
I think we can safely say that I wasn't too crushed by this lone negative respondant, but I was a little bummed. I generally at least prefer a somewhat intelligent, or at least informative, response. :-P


Anonymous said...

Oh Justin, you did it again.

At least this time it didn't have any drama-rife consequences. YET. Although working for a government the situation may be different, but in a corporate setting sending this kind of email (as well as the original email) is a major major no-no. Many places would fire you (as well as the sender of the original).

I agree with what youv'e said, but seriously dude, breath, and read some Tao Te Ching.

Venessa said...

I'm siding with Justin on this one. I love the way he handled it. You can’t send an email like that without expecting a rebuttal. His counter argument was intelligent, informative and level-headed. I cringe a bit when he starts calling people morons, (not because they don’t deserve it, Justin) but because as soon as you browbeat an individual they are no longer open to being educated. This time, he definitely gave them something to chew on.

JStressman said...

Mike: yes, in retrospect, I might regret sending it... but the tribal government isn't quite the same as a real corporate setting, or the federal government for that matter... so I should (hopefully) be able to get away with it.

and considering that the speaker for the tribal council personally pulled me into his office to congratulate me on it and discuss some of his views, I don't think I have much to worry about.

Venessa: Thanks for the backup :-) I agree with your sentiment... and I really tried hard this time to watch what I said and how I said it. ;-) fear of losing your job has a way of making you rather cautious.

to be fair, there's a fair chance that had this e-mail come to me outside of work, or on this blog or something, I might have handled it with a bit less tact. ;-D

but hey... I'm working on it. ;-)