An Open Letter to John J. Wall, Concerning Our Divorce Settlement

Submitted by Ken Watts on Tue, 04/27/2010 - 16:59

I RECENTLY RECEIVED AN EMAIL which claims to have been written by a young law student.

I don't actually know John J. Wall, the person who signed the letter.

So it was a little surprising to receive a request from John for a divorce.

It turned out, though, that he was talking about a political divorce, and not just from me.

John would like to divorce himself from all "American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters, et al."

When a relationship becomes so troubled that one of the parties contemplates divorce, I think it's important to address the issues, so that some healing can take place.

But John didn't leave a return address.

So I'm going to try to address his complaints about our relationship here, in hopes that he will see that I'm trying to patch things up.

If you know John, please send him a link to this site.

Dear John,

I know I'm not the only person you wrote to, but I certainly seem to fit your criteria.

I'm a liberal and a progressive. I'm certainly a "socialist" according to the right-wing definition of the word—I'm for Medicare, and for everyone having access to a doctor when they are sick or injured.

I've even confessed to a certain appreciation for Karl Marx.

Nevertheless, I support that centrist, President Obama.

And, above all, I am an American.

You begin your letter by saying:

"We have stuck together since the late 1950's, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly, this relationship has run its course.

"Our two ideological sides of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right so let's just end it on friendly terms. We can smile and chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and go our own way."

I really do hope that isn't necessary, John.

I understand that right now you are unhappy because you suffered such a devastating setback in the last election, but there has to be give and take in any relationship.

Imagine how I felt, during the previous eight years.

But I didn't give up on you, on this country, or on the democratic process because of that.

I still considered myself a proud American, even while I hated some of the things that were being done to my country.

You go on...

"Here is a model separation agreement: Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by landmass, each taking a portion. That will be the difficult part, but I am sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement."

I have to say that this proposal both shocks and puzzles me, John.

I'm shocked because it reminds me of Solomon and the baby.

I may have been naive, but I always assumed that deep down you believed what you said about loving this country.

And now you propose to destroy it, hacking it into pieces, rather than figuring out how patriotic Americans can overcome their disagreements and heal it.

But, of course, I'm falling into that classic pitfall: conflation.

I'm acting as though you are equivalent to all conservatives, and I don't really know that—do I?

You talk about "our two groups" but I don't really know what "group" you represent.

Your willingness to have our homeland cut in two means that you can't possibly represent all conservatives, as I at first imagined.

I have many conservative friends, and I don't know a single one who would agree to hacking the country up into pieces.

Maybe your other issues will help me to discover which "group" you actually represent.

Next time: John's other issues...