I had almost made it through the day when I received an email forward. Normally I don’t read email forwards, but this one appeared in my work email folder and I opened it thinking that it was actual notice about something going on here under the Golden Gables of Gullibility.
Much to my dismay, this forward was an harangue about how everyone in the country should make it a point to display an American flag on September 11th. I’ve no doubt at all that the forward’s sender had their heart in the right place and like many U.S. citizens is a caring person and a fervent patriot, but just like the snapping turtle can’t help taking a chunk out of your finger when you get too close, I can’t help but become critically cynical.
The forward begins by describing the events of Sept 11th, 2001 as “one of the country’s worst tragedies.” This is certainly true, but my question is why is this tragedy more deserving of a frantic electronic call to patriotism than the bombing of Pearl Harbor, The battle of Gettysburg, or the Boston Massacre? In order to convince me that the original author of this forward actually cares about America, I demand that they also send out a call to fly our flags on every day of the year in which any patriot of this country was killed, maimed, or injured in service to our great nation.
The forward then goes on to tell me what I need to do, which interestingly involves forwarding this missive on to 11 other people. I thought that one of the hallmarks of our nation was the freedom to pursue our own interests? Isn’t that why many people settled here and formed a new nation; to escape the tyranny of others? If rugged individualism and general orneriness is part of the American psyche, then isn’t telling us what to do rather self-defeating?
As a last entreaty, the forward begs us to “remember how you felt on 9/11 and let those sentiments guide you.” Interestingly, while I can’t recall how I felt on that day (I’m a guy and therefore emotionally crippled), I can tell you what I was thinking which was, “Please don’t let this change the way we do things in this country out of fear of terrorists because that’s what they want.” Ten years, two wars, trillions in new debt, and untold numbers of patriotic forwards later I guess no one heard me.
Maybe I should have sent an email.