Midnight in the Garden of My Hate Mail

As readers of this blog may be aware, I was the guest on C-SPAN’s “In Depth” program on Sunday, April 5. Afterward, the volume of my e-mail messages rose substantially as people wrote to me to express their opinion of my performance or to ask me questions. Although many of these messages sent approbation, for which I am grateful, others, like most of the people who called in during the program, were less than complimentary.

I had a foreboding that one of these messages might contain, shall we say, a bit of denunciation when I saw that its subject line read “You’re a fucking STUPID and VAPID.” In the body of the message, the sentence continues:

little insect.

“Everything deregulated…”

Please shoot yourself now and by chance, you haven’t bred have you?

Scum sucking maggot, get the fuck off my CSPAN channel and get out of my society.

Although this foul-mouthed lingo is not the kind of language that my mother taught me to use, I understood it well enough to file it under the rubric of “strong disapproval.”

Over the past decade or so, my popular articles on the Web have frequently elicited similar expressions of personal contempt and hatred. Had I not been a student of ideology, I might have been somewhat perplexed by such malevolent missives. After all, what do my writings endorse? As a rule, they uphold peace, voluntary cooperation, tolerance, and friendship toward all who do not proclaim themselves to be my sworn enemies. How can such inoffensive views touch a reader’s nerves so painfully that he responds by assaulting my character and demanding that I evacuate the country in which my ancestors and I were born? (Indeed, some of my forebears lived here even before the Europeans came to North America. If my information is correct, one-eighth of my ancestors were Cherokees, who, historians inform us, did not formally invite the white people to invade their long-inhabited, well-developed territory and, later, to expell them from it at bayonet point and march them, amid great suffering, to live in a wilderness known as Indian Territory.) So, I always wonder, who the hell does my correspondent think he is that HE should command ME, of all people, to leave this country? Can’t we at least flip a coin to decide which of us must go?

During the painful years of the Bush regime, we had to endure the slings and arrows of the brown shirts who compose the so-called Republican base. Now that Obama has ascended the throne, the brown shirts of the left are emerging as the more conspicuous barbarians.  Thank God it is not the case, as far too many people suppose, that we must be on one of these sides or the other. We can transcend this disgusting political spectrum, placing ourselves neither on the left nor on the right — nor even in the so-called “independent” zone somewhere between them — but rather rising above the entire line and insisting that red-state savagery and blue-state savagery are equally despicable and intolerable. I daresay that the future of our civilization hinges on whether a sufficient number of us will choose this transcendence.

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, author or editor of over fourteen Independent books, and Editor at Large of Independent’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.
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