When you work at a place like Americans United, you have to be prepared for people who feel compelled to write in and tell you why you’re all wrong. Some do it politely, but many more don’t.
Sometimes the reactions we get are funny. I’ll never forget the man who emailed us a few years ago after I appeared on the Fox News Channel. He not only disagreed with what I said, he made fun of me for wearing a hairpiece! (I hate to break it to you, pal, but my mop is 100 percent real.)
But some messages we get aren’t funny at all. They’re threatening, mean-spirited and vile. And those you must always take seriously.
Many of our allies get this stuff, too. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), founded in 2005 by Mikey Weinstein, has been on the receiving end of some truly vicious hate mail. Because Mikey is Jewish, much of what floods his inbox has been anti-Semitic and absolutely disgusting.
Mikey’s wife, Bonnie, recently decided to undertake an interesting project. She has collected some of the MRFF’s worst mail and published it in a book along with some commentary.
This may seem like an unusual approach, but it’s effective in bringing home the point of how filled with bitterness and rage some of these people are – and how much they absolutely hate anyone who dares to stand up for freedom of conscience and the separation of church and state.
Mikey sent me an early copy of Bonnie's book. Reading it, I could only wonder about the mental health of some of these individuals.
I opened the book at random in three spots. Here are the messages I saw:
* Try looking down the barrel of a gun and tell me that you don’t believe in God as you p*ss yourself.
* All you evil low life serpent KIKES will never win!!!!
* One day, people will take your religious persecution to the supreme court. You are no different than the KKK burning and bombing black churches in the south.
Did I mention that many of Mikey’s correspondents are not exactly logical?
Bonnie’s book is titled To the Far Right Christian Hater: You Can Be a Good Speller or a Hater, But You Can’t Be Both. It’s not an easy book to read – but it is an enlightening one.
As bad as these messages are, there is some good news: They just spur us to work even harder. When AU receives hate mail, we regard it as a sure sign we’ve hit home. If we’re annoying the legions of the fundamentalist far right and the Fox News crowd that much, we must be doing something right. So we just keep doing it.
I suspect Mikey and Bonnie feel the same way – but I’d urge them to always watch their backs, just for good measure.