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KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sisters and Polar Opposites

Ideologically, there are many, many reasons my younger sister and I don't get along.

There's her hatred of gay people ... and we just so happen to have a wonderful brother who is gay. As she says, in her Texas Southern Baptist fundie kind of way, "Hate the sin and love the sinner." Ick.

And there's her hatred of undocumented immigrants.

There's also her wildly mistaken belief that American soldiers are fighting for our freedom in Iraq. Her own son, now 19 and once a sweet child, has taken on her bigotry and her view of the Iraq war and George Bush. He signed up with the Marine Corps Reserve and is scheduled to ship out to Iraq at the end of September.

Over the years, she and I have come to realize that if we want to have civil conversations, we just can't bring up any political issues. (That makes for some pretty superficial talks.) But sometimes, she just can't stand not to e-mail me conservative junk:
Please join us in this FLY THE FLAG campaign and PLEASE forward this e-mail immediately to everyone in your address book asking them to also forward it. We have a little less than one week and counting to get the word out all across this great land and into every community in the United States of America. If you forward this e-mail to least 11 people and each of those people do the same ... you get the idea.


On Tuesday, September 11th, 2007, an American flag should be displayed outside every home, apartment, office, and store in the United States. Every individual should make it their duty to display an American flag on this anniversary of our country's worst tragedy. We do this in honor of those who lost their lives on 9/11, their families, friends and loved ones who continue to endure the pain, and those who today are fighting at home and abroad to preserve our cherished freedoms.

In the days, weeks, and months following 9/11, our country was bathed in American flags as citizens mourned the incredible losses and stood shoulder to shoulder against terrorism. Sadly, those flags have all but disappeared. Our patriotism pulled us through some tough times and it shouldn't take another attack to galvanize us in solidarity. Our American flag is the fabric of our country and together we can prevail over terrorism of all kinds.

Action plan: So, here's what we need you to do ...

(1) Forward this e-mail to everyone you know (at least 11 people). Please don't be the one to break this chain. Take a moment to think back to how you felt on 9/11 and let those sentiments guide you.

(2) Fly an American flag of any size on 9/11. Honestly, Americans should fly the flag year-round, but if you don't, then at least make it a priority on this day.

Thank you for your participation. God Bless You and God Bless America.

When she does send me this kind of garbage, I usually just trash it without sending a response. But this time was one time too many, so I wrote back:
You know me, ever the dissident. ;-) On 9/11, as on every other day of the year, I will be flying these flags on the flagpole (which is taller than our house) in our front yard:

Peace and impeachment flags

The top flag shows a peace dove and the word peace in multiple languages, including Arabic. The bottom one speaks for itself. Our American flag will go back up, along with the peace flag, when war criminals Dick Cheney and George Bush are out of office—and hopefully on trial or in prison—and can no longer do criminal things in its name.

No response. But maybe that's a good thing; maybe my sister will stop sending me e-mail guaranteed to annoy me.


LeftLeaningLady said...

My brother is also a right wing nutjob, so I feel your pain. At least we have football to talk about and he does not send me this crap. We have been discussing politics more lately with the election coming up and he appears to be listening. We will see!

Anonymous said...

I too have family members who defy understanding. On Thanksgivings and Christmases, we take refuge in telling old family stories. Even so, someone usually feels the need to, say, complain about how "orientals" are "taking all the jobs in the Silicon Valley." Guh.

Good for you for flying those flags and speaking the truth!

Stephanie E. said...

Ugh. I'm really, really lucky to have sisters who, for the most part, share my line of thinking and a brother who already does in some ways and is coming along in others. The rest of the family is another story, but we're working on them.

I still get offensive e-mails from a few select people now and then, and these days, I'm trying to see those messages as tests of my anger-management skills. But of course, whenever the message isn't from someone like my grandma, I still fire back an angry "you're so full of it, and here's proof" message. ;)

I love your response to your sister!

Anonymous said...

How did two sisters of the same parents end up at such radical ends of the spectrum? Wow...you are far more tolerant than I.

I'm glad you said something. I would have been furious to receive that.

BD and I have very different political viewpoints. If we dare to discuss them I usually end up putting an end to it before one of us files for divorce. But he's not hateful. He doesn't hate illegal immigrants and he doesn't hate gays. He disagrees with their place in society, but he's not mean-spirited. He is, however, willing to engage in some pretty deep intellectual nosedives to justify what has happened in this country in the past 8 years, which drives me crazy, particularly when he starts flag-waving about Iraq.

I love your flags. I would be flying them too, at least over my half of the house. ;-)

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Well, Karoli, my sister turned out to be just like our parents, and the stork apparently dropped me off at the wrong house. And I'm not really that tolerant of what she has to say; I mostly try to keep the peace while still making my views known. She and I had a huge blowup several years ago regarding her view of gay people. That was what pushed me into gay rights activism.

I'd find it really hard to live with Ed if he had vastly different political views than I do. As it is, I frequently have to ask him to stop talking about politics because his rants are just more preaching to the choir. He rants to me; I rant on this blog. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I can't leave my comment because it turned into a tome. Katharine, any problem with me sending it via email to you for whatever you want to do with it?

Briefly: the whole country got off on traumatizing itself by watching the carnage on TV over and over again. If people could think before that, they surely ruined any possibility of clear mentation afterwards.

Fear is the enemy of reason.

Also, "bad people" can always get others to submit (if that's the game and everybody opts in) because they have spent all their lives walking around behaving like that, while the rest of the people have NOT spent very much time at all practicing the management of the former group.

Becca Rothaug said...

A little late on the bandwagon here, but I can't help myself. When I saw your picture of the flags that are taller than your house, I applauded in the dim light of this Friday morning. You are a bringer of peace.

I relate to the family issues. I once wanted to shake my father out of it when he expressed his belief that President Bush is a really good man and is doing the best thing for our country. He was nodding his head with a knowing smile as he said it. You'd think someone who was drafted into the Vietnam War would want the men and women of today to have peace on their minds. That he wouldn't want them to be as sad and angry as he is every night. But he's the type that as long as he sees a couple going to church on Sunday, they must be in God's favor. Why, why is it all the self-proclaimed holy that seem to be the least holy of us all?

Written in the spirit of love, peace, joy (and being with people who fill me with these lovely emotions)

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