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Paul Greenberg / December 8, 2009

Appalled All Around

Dear Spam Lady,

As someone who still remembers November 22, 1963, I did not find it wholly a pleasure to get your mass e-mail last week. On the contrary, its heading sent a cold shiver through me:

Everything considered, maybe we should offer the following up in prayer for Obama: Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Psalm 109:8.

It only adds to the unseemliness of it to see Holy Scripture conscripted for such a purpose. I think the technical name for it is profanation.

I’d like to think you know not what you do, or at least not how your words might sound to anyone with a sense of history. Or taste.

Words are powerful things. Especially holy words. Don’t just fling them out into the ether like that. You wouldn’t want to look back some terrible day and regret having forwarded so crass a message. There’s a reason for that Delete key on your computer. Use it.

Surely these times cannot be any more crass, absurd or distasteful than others, but its instantaneous and irretrievable electronic communications make it seem so. Between e-mail, Twitter, iPhones, Facebook and the next Big Thing, the messages we send become reflexive, leaving little or not time for reflection.

Overly impressed by the speed with which we can send a message, we do not pause to weigh what we are saying, if anything. We deprive ourselves of a chance to censor ourselves, to think better of our half-formed or malformed thoughts, or just impulses, before sending them out like body blows. Civilization loses one of its chief characteristics: considered thought.

Here’s another reason, Spam Lady, that reading your e-mail was alarming: It arrived just after a couple of uninvited visitors snuck into a state dinner at the White House. They even posed with Vice President Joe Biden. Serves ‘em right. Let the punishment fit the crime. I bet he never stopped talking the whole time.

Even more disturbing, these two unwelcome guests made it all the way to the receiving line and the president of the United States – as close as Brutus to Caesar.

The president graciously declined to criticize the Secret Service for its lapse – after all, these men and women put their lives on the line for him every day – but that shouldn’t keep the rest of us from demanding not just a full investigation but some disciplinary action. The kind administered to officials entrusted with keeping the president of the United States safe from such intrusions, and who don’t.

Whoever in the Secret Service screwed up – plus whoever was supposed to be overseeing the agent who did – doesn’t need to be in the Secret Service any longer. They both ought to be walking a beat in Hoboken, or whatever the federal equivalent is.

Thank goodness these people were party-crashers, not assassins. Someone said the woman was interested in landing a role on a reality show. Her performance on this occasion was much too real for comfort.

While our president is busy telling us how many jobs he’s created or saved or imagined, he needs to do his part for unemployment, too. Specifically, by firing any and all “security” personnel who let these intruders into the White House.

If these two could make it in, who couldn’t? Maybe somebody who believes the president’s days should be few.

Appalled all around,

Inky Wretch


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