When readers of this weekly effort take the time to write me a letter or email, it’s a safe bet they want to have the final word on whatever riled them to write. I’m fine with that.
In fact, because of their remarkable diligence, I turn this space over to reading writers every June and December so everyone might enjoy some of the more colorful ways people think I should spend my time other than writing.
Take Joe, from Ohio, who was so steamed about a mid-July column on climate change that he wrote (in all capital letters) “… we totally reject your columns because of your evil hatred of President Trump!! If we were the editor (of this newspaper) we would kick you out the first minute.”
Five months later, another email arrived from Ohio — this one didn’t include a name, only an email address — equally steaming: “These are not news articles but paragraphs of Trump- and Republican-bashing. Get rid of this guy.”
A similar, but much longer, email from Bill arrived in October to — correctly as it turns out — note that my column isn’t a “news article” at all. In fact, wrote Bill, “Funny how I can tell your political affiliation from the content of the article and the slant of your opinions. This would not have been tolerated 40 or 50 years ago.”
In fact, Bill, it would have been tolerated because the Farm and Food File began as an opinion column 26 years ago and remains an opinion column. It wouldn’t be much of an opinion column if it didn’t include an opinion — like yours just now.
Several emailers thought columns that dissected the White House’s trade policies weren’t just wrong, they were downright unpatriotic. In attempting to make that argument, however, Norm, from Indiana, gave me more credit than I either possess or deserve.
“AG, if you spend just a little time explaining how the Chinese Commies have been ripping off the USA instead of attacking the president, perhaps they would be more willing to come to a trade agreement.”
Well, Norm, I can certainly give it the old US of A try. I wouldn’t count on the “Commies” changing soon because of me and my musings, though.
John, from New York, wrote to make a similar point but he got lost in the ongoing tariff tangle that is U.S. trade policy. “Trump is the FIRST PRESIDENT that has acted to end these tariffs. See what our President is fighting for?”
Not really, John, but then again I’m focused on converting communists into socialists right now.
Not all correspondence contained suggestions on when, where, and how to fire me. Most, in fact, contained warm praise and good wishes. David, for example, emailed on July 18 to say, “I’m sure you get lots of negative feedback, so I want to say I always enjoy your columns.”
Joe, from Florida, seconded Dave’s motion with more enthusiasm. “You are one of the top five writers in the U.S.! You get the message out through the lines!”
Another emailer, Roy, from Nebraska, was nearly as effusive: “First, I love your column. Next, I don’t know how you do it. You are spot on in my opinion.”
What’s more, adds Roy, “Since when is the definition of a good Lutheran farm boy one that covers his eyes and sticks his head in the ground?”
Amen, Roy. There’s enough of that going around already and, in 2020, we don’t need more sand in our eyes, ears and gears. We will, however, need more cards, letters and emails because, honestly, the June “letters” column that you’ll need to write is just around the corner.
So, Happy New Year and happy writing! Yes, even to my fiery friends in Ohio.