by Tammy Tillotson
I recently received a response to my article on Native American Reparation. The back and forth dialogue which ensued as a result, reiterated several enlightening and humorous points concerning true reparation in a real life scenario. Too often people have a tendency not to practice what they preach, or what they write about. The chance to do so is a rare opportunity and a valuable lesson worth sharing. I feel both humbled and privileged to share this sequel to my article on Reparation.
The First Email
On July 30, 2002 I received the following email:
For reasons difficult to explain, I subjected myself to a careful reading of the mindless dribble you posted regarding American Indian reparations. Trying to see past the utter illiteracy of your writing in order to glean any truth or substance that might be hidden therein, I still found a flowing stream of nonsense, misinformation, and complete stupidity.
Let’s start with the fact that reparations in the billions of dollars have already been paid out to the “defeated nations,” as you like to call them. This status is absurd in many cases, since certain tribes provoked and attacked outside of their “national” boundaries, to the extent any could reasonably be established.
Germany was a defeated nation after WWI. Do you recall any reparations being paid to Germany? No, in fact, such extremely burdensome reparations were CHARGED TO GERMANY, that they resulted in WWII.
You seem to be the victim of the modern educational system, which passes prejudice, bias, and active lies as academic curriculum. You will find, after you have pissed away hundreds of thousands of dollars getting your “degree,” that degrees in nonsense are not viable in the real world and have no meaning outside of the propaganda industry. The propaganda industry is flooded with applicants since today’s schools are turning out people like yourself with no real education at all. If I were in your shoes, I would sue for a refund and go get a real skill, perhaps as a trainee in the food services industry.
The Second Email
That same day, I received a second email from the same sender:
On the issue or reparations for “defeated nations,” one of my Southern friends pointed out that the United States has never paid any reparations for the lasting devastation it caused the Confederate Nation that it brutally vanquished and oppressed in what it likes to call, “The Civil War.” The United States skates around this by calling that a “civil war,” implying it was a revolution and pretending that the Confederacy was not a sovereign entity with its own government, flag, currency, foreign diplomats, and powerful army and navy. Write about that, Tammy.
Write about that, Tammy
Since I always love a direct personal challenge, I carefully read and reread both emails. I realized that while the first highly insulting email was sent to me alone, the second challenging email was sent to a list of other individuals. I assumed all these individuals were aware of the article being discussed. I thought they would also enjoy reading my defense, so I took the liberty of sending the following reply to all of them.
I immensely appreciate your responses to my article. I must congratulate you as well. My question to you – why is it that you were expecting to find otherwise? Perhaps you missed the point of the article in its entirety.
I would, however, like to address the real intellectual issues you questioned. For instance, I am aware that Germany was declared a “defeated nation” after WWI. Also, “defeated nation” is the legal term used by the Federal government – it was not my intent to misrepresent that definition despite my sarcasm surrounding its quote/unquote use. (The sarcasm is in fact agreeing with the absurdity of the issue at hand.) Since the issue of reparation seems to incite such wonderful controversy, and as the article’s topic was strictly Reparation for Native Americans, I intentionally excluded a discussion of Germany’s position. Also, I have noted your points concerning the Civil War and intend to give it some thought, possibly addressing it as a future article.
Another thought – Go Inside does not compensate me for writing. I write, not because there’s a right or wrong, but because words incite a response. If you feel strong enough about these issues to warrant a response, why not write your own articles and submit them to the editor? I assure you that even mindless dribble has to meet editorial approval before it’s posted, and new voices are always welcome.
I am sorry that you grossly underestimate my writing and my literacy. Then again, you don’t owe me any form of reparation for your difference of opinion, as I am in no way a victim according to your definition. I never pissed away thousands of dollars getting a degree, when in fact, I actually threw away a prestigious academic scholarship. You are correct in the assumption however that you are not in my shoes. If you were, you’d have known that I’ve been waiting tables and catering since I was 10 years old. I am rather quite at home in the food service industry. Yet, when the power goes off at Burger King (which is directly across the street and always hiring) I’m not the one turning customers away because “the computers are down” and I can’t count back change from a twenty-dollar bill. I’m not looking for any type of refund, because it’s people like you who always make sure I’m getting more than my money’s worth. Loose change is never useless! Again, thanks for cc:ing comments and feel free to keep reading!
Admissions of Guilt
The very next day, I received two additional emails. The first was again sent to the entire mailing list. It said simply, “Well done.”
The second email was a well thought out apology and explanation from someone with understandable reasons for having knee jerk reactions and differences of opinion. A very real and sincere person explained that while the Internet provides a wealth of information, it also provides certain dangers within a virtual interface.
The sender admits:
I am certainly much more willing to castigate, criticize, demean, horrify, mistreat and abuse someone across a barrier of electrons and copper wire spanning thousands of miles than I would be if I sat down across the dinner table from them.
Perhaps this syndrome of virtual contact is major among the toxins contributing to the current climate of hatred, malice and distrust that seems so prevalent. Civility seems to have faded and fallen from the vogue of today’s garish and obtuse fashions.
I do not believe I could have expressed those same sentiments any better in my own words. Not only do I understand where they stem from, I would dare say that I have been guilty myself of similar actions. No one is perfect. We all act in haste at one time or another. Yet, how we respond to simply being human is truly what matters. In a computer literacy age it will become increasingly more important to strive not to de-humanize ourselves. Even across a barrier of copper wires, there is still the human component – a human need to communicate with the hopes of possibly being understood by someone to whom it might truly matter.
Go Inside magazine – the web of the world that reaches millions…I have reached one who, despite our disagreements, I am glad to now call a friend. Sometimes one in a million is one more than enough.
Sometimes it is also a good idea to have an “Undisclosed Recipients” emailing list. Right about that, Clark, eh?
Special thanks to Clark Albritton for humbly giving me permission to share these emails with Go Inside.