For some reason, I've had a lot of people angrily yell at me over the years—in person, over the phone, and of course in the comment threads, where my old blog, HorsesAss.org, played a valuable role as the Pacific Northwest political blogosphere's preeminent troll magnet. Slog's comment threads are a veritable love-fest by comparison, a bubble of civility where death threats are generally frowned upon and antisemitic rants rarely prove persuasive.
But by far my most memorable incident of angry yelling came via email, not so much for the rancor of the content, but for the affirmation that, if one truly makes an effort to intellectually engage with the opposition, a political accommodation can sometimes be reached.
Back in February of 2006, a small group of uniformed, swastika-waving, neo-Nazis marched on the statue of Lenin in Fremont. (Say what you want about Nazis, but you can't accuse them of having an over-developed sense of irony.) Blog mockery ensued, ultimately prompting the regional chapter of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement to list one of my colleagues on their website as a "race traitor."
"I guess one of the advantages of being Jewish," I quipped at the time, "is that no matter what I write, our local Nazis can’t exactly label me a 'race traitor,' can they?"
I was wrong. A few days later the Nazis sent me the following email:
From: DerLeibstandarte Subject: RACE TRAITOR Date: March 4, 2006 9:32:10 PM PST To: David Goldstein
JEW COMMUNIST SCUM, WE ARE WATCHING YOU!!!!!!!
Confidentiality Notice: The information contained in this e-mail and any attachments is Racially and Religiously privileged and confidential. It is intended for specific Aryan recipients only and Brothers and Sisters of their choosing. If you are a jew, you can only be in possession through deceit, treachery, guile, cunning, dissimulation and chicanery, and such possession of this e-mail is contrary to law. You are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this e-mail is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail through the error of someone else, you must notify the sender and permanently delete this e-mail and any attachments immediately. You should neither retain, nor copy nor use this e-mail or any attachment for any purpose. Disclosure of all or any part of the contents to any other jew is a punishable offense.
But you know me: Always looking to engage in reasoned dialog, I wrote back:
Are you calling me a "race traitor?" I'm just curious... using your own concepts, how exactly can a Jew be a traitor to the so-called Aryan race?
To which I quickly got the following response:
OH, well you are just a slimy jew then!
While I take issue with the editorializing, I can't argue with the facts. And I came away somewhat heartened from the exchange, knowing that no matter what your differences, no matter how wide the ideological chasm, if you make a genuine effort to reach out to your opponents, bipartisan political compromise can sometimes be reached.
It is in that spirit of give and take that I remind you that it's the holidays, and people are hungry. Right now, Northwest Harvest is providing 1.7 million meals a month to hungry families across Washington. The Evergreen State is the 14th hungriest state in the country—and more than half of the people who are hungry here are children and the elderly.