As the writer of an opinion column one can expect a reasonable amount of angry email. Normally,though, even the people who hate me tend to stick with name-calling regarding their perception of my political affiliation or my general dislike of something they like.
When I wrote my column about not enjoying how Starbucks – where I spend many hours a day – plays Christmas music non-stop for a month, I fully expected some negative letters. In fact, when I emailed the column to the various papers around the country that run it, my note at the top to the editors read, “Let the hate mail fly.”
I fully expected to be called a Grinch or to be regaled by tales of how much various readers enjoyed Christmas music. I figuredsome people would also be mad at my not-too-subtle jab at people who wear holiday-themed sweaters.
I did not expect, however, that this particular column, a mild criticism at best, would result in the single most offensive email in my over 15 years of writing some form of newspaper column. Never mind thatI acknowledged that Christmas music was fun to sing and that I mentioned caroling as a child; a reader thought it fit to assume my dislike of the Starbucks Christmas music loop was due to me being Jewish.
It would be impossible for me to describe the email in all its ignorant glory, so let me offer it here for you. I’m leaving in the grammar mistakes, but redacting the name because I’m sure this fellow has more than enough problems without being identified in his community as a crude anti-Semite.
“I’ve often wondered why many people do not like Jews. Your a prime example with your anti xmas music article. Helen Thomas was right when she said why dont all you kikes go back to Europe.”
I’m pretty sure my friend here does not need to do a lot of wondering as to why people don’t like Jews. If he’s willing to write this because I find Christmas music annoying, well, it’s a pretty short line for him to go from wondering to not quite liking us. If I was Christian and didn’t like Christmas music, would that be okay?
It’s not like I went after the Pope. I besmirched “Jingle Bell Rock” and “LittleDrummer Boy.” This letter would be like accusing me of hating Hispanics because I don’t enjoy “Dora the Explorer.”
It’s sad that hatred like this exists –especially during this time of year when we’re supposed to be thinking about goodwill towards our fellow man. That said, it’s probably good to know that no matter how much progress we think we have made, more work remains to be done.
I ask my emailing friend to think about whether it’s really a straight line between not enjoying Christmas music and being worthy of anyone’s disdain. As I’m sure my friends, family, wife and child will tell you, there are plenty of reasons to dislike me. Fortunately, they have overlooked those faults and manage to find a few things worth liking.
Merry Christmas. May your jingle bells rock if you so desire them to.