Identifying with the fish


In my current job, which I've had since 2004, I work for a small division of a large company. My division does contract work of an advisory nature for a branch of the department of defense, and consequently, is peopled almost entirely by retired military guys. As the Chief Scientist (haha I misspelled that--hooray for spell checking) of the division, I'm the only senior member who doesn't go to Walter Reed for checkups. I suffer culture shock every day; I'm a fish out of water--I'm Joel Fleischman in Cicely.

The uniformity of opinion among the guys I work with is amazing. They're right-wing, pro-war, and pro-Bush. They'd like to see us nuke Iran and turn the desert sand into glass. They'd like to see us turn Iraq into one big parking lot and put a Walmart in the middle of it.

Most of the guys I work with are pretty nice if you stay away from politics. I've learned to avoid discussions of anything political--I've been ganged up on too many times. These guys hate a whole lot of folks: lawyers, illegal immigrants, tree-huggers, PETA, defenders of the rights of any minority whatsoever; don't even get me started on gays and lesbians. These guys hate liberals of any stripe. They hate all government handouts with the notable exception of their own military benefits: pensions and medical care for life.

Until a few months ago, the guy with whom I work most closely, a retired Marine Corps Colonel, included me on an email distribution list which he regularly bombards with the most outrageous right-wing crap to be found anywhere. He forwards screeds that circulate on a military email list, and the love of war is a frightening thing to witness. The hatred of so much else; it's like being smacked in the face with the cold ugly of ignorance again and again. I'd asked him repeatedly to take my name off his list. He finally did so after sending me a screed titled What A Wake-up Call!!!! filled with LARGE FONT and COLOR and ITALICS and exclamation points!!!!! that enumerated all the children who have been killed in school shootings since Columbine, and then it claimed, in all seriousness, that GOD COULDN'T SAVE THESE CHILDREN BECAUSE GOD ISN'T ALLOWED IN SCHOOLS!!!!!

Something about my response, measured as it was, finally convinced him that I really, really, didn't want to find any more of this crap in my inbox.

Now, though, I fear I may have opened myself up to more of the same, because this past week I just couldn't help myself--I just couldn't hold back any longer. I sent him a link to this post on Creek Running North. Is there any point, I wonder? No, not really.

May 2009

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