I keep a file in my desk drawer at work. I label it “P&D,” which stands for “Praise and Damnation.” I’ve carried my P&D folder — several of them, actually — with me for more than three decades.
They contain comments from readers who either (a) love the things I write or (b) hate them.
My latest P&D entry, though, is by far my all-time favorite. I’m not sure I’ll ever get a letter quite like the one I got from an Amarillo resident who took serious — and I mean serious — issue with an editorial we published on Wednesday.
The editorial called on the Haitian government to ensure it is accountable to nations that are pouring relief into Haiti to help the people ravaged by the killer earthquake. Here’s the link to the editorial.
But then I got this note. I can’t reprint it in its entirety here, because it is full of too many four-letter words. The writer calls me a “racist.” But he did say this: “Where have you been when for years Haiti has been the center of the worst child slavery exceeses in the Western Hemisphere? Where have you been in demanding that the former excess of over 400 years of racist oppression be address and reversed? Permit me to answer my own questions. You have been pandering to rank and silly commercial interests — local advertisers who prefer that you continue with your racist crap instead of standing up for the oppressed and helpless. I call your … newspaper ‘—hole journalism.’ It always stinks to high heaven.”
The letter has more of this kind of rhetoric. It is graphic in its personal loathing of yours truly.
To be honest, this letter set me back on my heels. It’s not that he is right, it’s that his criticism is so intensely personal.
And here’s the best part: This guy and I know each other and we had a nice relationship — right up until the moment this note dropped into my lap.
I’ll keep this letter at the front of my P&D file, at least for a while. Most of the criticism I get keeps me humble. This one, though, makes me sad.