Thursday, July 12, 2007

Am I too grumpy, or just allowing my Middle East passions to get the best of me?

Here's a great letter I received froma reader today and I think she makes some great points that I thought I should share:
Hi Ray,

I hope you don’t mind the lack of formality. The fact that you enter my living room (or at least my kitchen!) each week through your newspaper
column makes me feel as though I know you.

I read your column weekly – or almost weekly. I have a three year old, so, of course, there are times when the newspaper becomes a table cover for my young artist to paint upon, before I had a chance to see it. I have to say, although I sometimes don’t agree with you, I respect the way you present your views, and I enjoy your column very much.

I’d like to comment on a few of your most recent columns, though. First of all, with regard to your column in this week’s edition, you ask, “Did we or did we not ban smoking in Orland Park?

And why?” I don’t live in Orland, and don’t follow its politics that closely, so I can’t comment on the first part of your question. But I would like to answer the second part. If smoking was banned, you ask why it was banned? The answer is simple: It was banned for the same reasons that liberal politicians ban anything else – because the liberal politicians think they know better than you do what is best for you, and will create laws upon laws to be sure that you (and I) do what THEY think is best for you!

I have one final comment on the tone of your last few articles: Be careful, Ray – you’re beginning to sound like a grumpy “old” man who is as judgmental about those about whom he is complaining!

Thanks for your columns. I really enjoy them, because your opinions have a great deal of thought behind them. And, believe it or not, many times (probably, more often than not) this conservative actually AGREES with you.


Here is my response:

Thanks so much DL

I appreciate your comments, and your constructive criticism ... the tragedy of today is that President Bush and the Iraq War have created this atmosphere where criticism of elected officials is portrayed as being personal rather than a part of the political process. In otherwords, challenging our elected officials and keeping their feet to the fire is as much a part of the job as them getting their (bloated and excessive and unearned) paychecks :)

It does disturb me that I get so involved in these issues. I wish I could just turn away and pretend everything is so good today. But I can't. I see 3,600 Americans die in a stupid war -- Bush opened the door to al-Qaeda in Iraq, almost saving them by giving them a place so uncontrollable that they can now use Iraq to train for future attacks against us.

I also worry that we have a bad priority list of what's important; sure, banning smoking is important but I don't believe the officials in Orland Park took that action because they thought it out. I believe they did what George Ryan did -- he made the death penalty a priority not because he even understood the issues, but because he hoped it might make him look like a real leader as he faced certain conviction for being a crook and a thief.

I have to be the cynic so you don't have to be. I have to look at good ideas and ask, why did they do it?

I don't like cigarette smoking, but there are so many other issues, for example, in Orland Park that go unaddressed, and I look at the move as a self-serving effort by one trustee to jump on a bandwagon. They proposed the ban, then lifted the ban because they saw how it was hurting local businesses that generate money for the community.

I do try to insert my personal feelings into the column because I think you deserve to hear how I really feel. Too many columnists write what they think you want to hear. I don't and I know that because ot everyone agrees with my views. But I do believe I owe you honesty and not to hold back.

But, I will try not to be grumpy :) ...

I do appreciate your bringing it up and I will post your letter on my blog (without posting you name) because I think you bring up a great point.

Thank you so much for reading the columns and taking the time to respond. I always appreciate and even learn from what readers write.


(Postscript: DL then wrote back saying she was talking about the National Anthem and the display of flags after Sept. 11. Many people like her really did put their flags out because of genuine patriotism. I believe her.)

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