I have the pleasure of getting feedback from my readers every week and it’s my practice to reply; or at least I try to. I believe that the emails that I receive in reaction to my columns are private matters between the mailer and the recipient and should be kept that way.
However, I ALSO believe that if an email is of public interest and it will not negatively impact the sender, then I feel that excerpts can be shared with the greater readership.
That is how I felt when I got an email from a reader who wrote me a stinging letter about last week’s column ‘The Palin Effect scares the hell out of me”.
Rather than commenting on the general gist of my article, which was a tirade against the ‘dumb-ification’ of politics, all in the name of identifying with the average Joe, the writer chose to attack me on my ‘bias’ for the Obama/Biden ticket.
My choice of candidate shouldn’t have been a problem at all; except it clearly was to Mr. X, as I shall call him. I’ve chosen to share with you all parts of the email and my reply to points raised by Mr. X.
Mr. X: Shame on you! As a reporter and/or so called news buff - have you done your “homework” on the two US candidates, or is this purely an emotional/physical attraction to Obama/Biden?
Have you taken the time to look at the platform of what is the foundational ideas and true agenda for this election?
My Reply: With utmost respect sir, I find it rather condescending that you’d assume that my political choices would be based on the fact that Mr. Obama is a well spoken ‘black guy’ and not because of any other policy reason.
I’m a conservative guy and like I’ve stated many a time, Republican ideals resonate with me. So, trying to lump me along with the rest of the ‘colour-biased’ masses is a disservice to me and any person who’s actually trying to rise above the cheaper aspects of political life.
Mr. X: Would you like to see a more intrusive (socialist) government, paid for by higher taxes, mostly out of the pockets of your middle-class citizens?
Oh, sorry, Obama said it would come from the rich. But does it? In fact he drastically lowered what he terms as rich, give the bulk of hard working middle class a new definition as “upper Class, and then tax them into the lower class!
My Reply: I’m sorry that I can’t feel your pain there sir because I’ve always been taught that proper citizenship shouldn’t be all about my own wants and needs but rather the needs of the entire community.
Of what good is it for me to live in splendour while two houses away from mine, somebody is going hungry?
Surely, do you find it fair that in a nation as rich as yours you don’t have universal healthcare?
I mean, even we, in Rwanda, are trying to get everyone under Mutuelle de Sante, which is a type of rudimentary health insurance.
Watching the aftermath of the Katrina disaster was an eye opener to many here in Rwanda because, for the first time, we saw the poverty in the United States and not just the lights of Times Square.
Taxes are a bad word to a lot of people…but the equitable distribution of a nation’s riches is only fair. Call it socialist if you want. So, I don’t have problem with taxes as long as they are well thought of.
Mr X: Would you support a candidate that supported violence or a tribal uprising in another country, if that candidate’s friend did not win the election? (Note - Obama/Odinga Kenya)?
My Reply: I won’t even attempt to answer that one. If you’ve been reading Corsi (the rightwing author of Obama Nation) and believing him then I really can’t help you there.
Pre and post-election violence has been, sadly, a part of Kenyan elections since the 1990’s. Simplistic western thinking, where Africa is concerned, is the bane of my existence.
Mr X: Would you support a “cut and run” policy for your military anytime the battle (for democracy) became difficult? By the way, why do you think the Rwandan military has been so successful in maintaining some sort of peace in Darfur?
It was a terrible loss of Rwandan lives recently when Rwandan troops were ambushed in a cowardly or typical terroristic fashion. Could it be that (at least) Africa knows that the leadership in Rwanda is unwavering, and thoroughly committed to staying the course and meeting the objective?
My Reply: Trying to relate the illegal invasion of Iraq to Rwanda’s involvement in Darfur is strange. The rationales of the two missions are as different as day and night and any attempt to lump them all in the same basket is a great falsity.
What surprised me the most, however, was the fact that Mr. X avoiding commenting on the points I was attempting to raise. I was trying to point out the cheapening of the politics of real issues and the need for able (and highly intelligent) leadership.
Mrs. Palin, I believe, is a symptom of ‘Average Joe’ type of politics that is all about familiarity with the candidate ( “she looks so friendly”…”she seems like us”) and not about larger issues. Here in Rwanda, we are trying to build up a civil society that looks beyond traditional labels of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and Mrs. Palin and the Republican Party of today isn’t a good role model.