One “Whit Abraham,” who claims to be a cadet at the US Naval Academy, is the latest to send his words of electronic wisdom my way. This missive merely confirms how close I came to social disaster when I very nearly ended up enrolling at Annapolis myself back during the fall of ’81; the lure of free tuition, guaranteed employment and those girl-magnet uniforms were great, but not great enough when I considered the likelihood that I’d end up court-martialed for insubordination. If you think I’m snotty now…! Anyway, here’s Whit’s letter:

Your cartoons sure are eye-poppers. Judging by your long list of guidelines for the e-mails that you receive, I will venture a guess and claim, probablly accurately, that you love to dish out criticism but can’t take any. That’s your excuse for only reading emails from people who agree with you, and “appreciate” what you articulate through pictures. Hiding behind this list of rules is pretty embarassing for such a clever guy, even though it is a great way to celebrate yourself. Maybe you should learn how to face criticism – you are a political critic yourself, arent you? Great job on consistintly overlooking why our war against Saddam was indeed just, and the fact that post-war investigations and reparations to an already damaged nation will take more than a few months after the shooting stops. I understand that you make your living off of irrational sensationalism, but what purpose do your cartoons really serve? I understand that you arent the only satirist out there, but you sure are a prominant one. People like you weaken the morale of our citizenry when, in order to sow the seeds of peace in the Middle East, they need to believe in our leadership and the just reasons that were articulated for engaging in war. Historically, people such as yourself were shunned during times of national crisis, and for good reasons. People like you provide an obscene amount of public criticism and denegration, offer no subsequent solutions to the problems you indirectly address through petty cartoons, and then shirk behind “email guidelines.” In short, you speak loudly and carry no stick whatsoever. Therfore, you are obviously a coward. Most Americans would call you something else…a synonym that starts with p. Report me to my internet provider…they liberated Baghdad while you had arts and crafts time. Besides, thats what I’d expect from a newsboy like you.

Let’s take these in order. The reason for my e-mail rules, Whit, is that I’m a busy guy. I do an op-ed column, three syndicated cartoons and four freelance cartoons every week. Plus I’m writing a book, and now this blog thing! That only leaves so much time for responding to e-mail. I figure, if I’m going to reply to anyone, it’s gonna be my fans, not people who hate my guts and wish I was dead. And yes, I also pledge to report people who threaten me to their ISPs and law enforcement authorities. Given how many nuts there are in the world, it’s stupid to assume that people who send you a death threat aren’t serious about it. So yeah, I take these things seriously. Think about it: when’s the last time you sent a death threat to someone whose opinion you disagreed with? Right. Most people don’t do that. So, when someone does, they should be reported.

I love this quote: “People like you weaken the morale of our citizenry when, in order to sow the seeds of peace in the Middle East, they need to believe in our leadership and the just reasons that were articulated for engaging in war.” Sounds like my pal Alan Keyes, who posited that I should be shot or jailed for damaging the war effort. “Need to believe”? No one needs to believe anything but the truth. If it isn’t obvious by now that the Bush Administration lied–not distorted, not misled, but outright lied–about Saddam’s ties to Al Qaeda and his ability to strike US targets with weapons of mass destruction, I don’t know what to say. Our “leadership” is illegitimate and unelected and should be treated as such. That means every single thing they say or do is by definition a lie. If Bush declares Arbor Day, don’t believe it. Oh, and please let me know when the “seeds of peace” start sprouting in the Middle East as the result of the invasion of Iraq.

The “coward” insult is a right-wing standard. I’ll leave it to others to judge whether or not I’m a pussy (there! I said it!), but I’ve probably spent more time in war zones than Whit–Afghanistan and Kashmir to be specific, plus some hairy moments in southern Kyrgyzstan during an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan offensive. And I didn’t have a gun. I don’t take offense personally, the brave men and women journalists–“newsboys,” if you will–who died to bring us the truth from Afghanistan during late 2001 were anything but cowards. And unlike Whit, they learned how to spell wherever THEY went to school.