As sure as there will be an American election every four years, there will always be the eccentric but ever-present apocalyptic doomsayers who take over one’s inbox. In particular, these irrational pessimists spread the word one inbox or blog at a time with ideas that if so-and-so is elected to be president, then he or she would bring about the Armageddon. While the election is a good five months away, the irrationally fearful and terribly annoying emails and spam have already begun filling up my inbox.
Now, I would understand the purpose of a good, well-written email from at least a semi-intelligent source. However, when the only defense that the Anti-Christ or whatever claim that these doomsayers are trying to rouse emotion for is in the form of various racial tirades and badly misquoted Bible passages, it begs the question from my end, “What are people like this thinking when they write stuff like this?”
For example, following the news of Barack Obama’s Democratic presidential nomination and my celebratory support of such news on Facebook, a good friend of mine, in a momentary lapse of good judgement, sent me an email under the misappropriated title “A Little History”.
The email included a list of biased assumptions concerning historical events from the assassination of Robert Kennedy to the war in “ Afghanistanagainst”, as the writer so wonderfully puts it. The writer then makes the daring claim that the Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is the bringer of the end of all time. Of course, the piece of spam culminated in this statement:
“And now: for the award winning act of stupidity of all times the people of America want to elect, to the most powerful position on the face of the planet — the presidency of the United States of America — a Muslim male extremist between the ages of 17 and 40. Have the American people completely lost their minds, or just their power of reason? I’m sorry but I refuse to take a chance on the ‘unknown’ candidate Obama.”
As terribly written and factually incorrect the email proved to be, it made me wonder, why would anyone waste his or her time on a bombast email that no one takes seriously? Personally, I find the zealots who send chain messages such as “IF YOU DON’T SEND THIS MESSAGE TO 8 PEOPLE, YOU WILL NEVER FIND LOVE AND GROW WARTSw” or “Why Barack Obama is the Anti-Christ” very much annoying. I’m sure many others do as well.
If that’s the case, then what’s the point of swaying a person to a certain argument that way? If persuasion is the goal, there are much better ways to do so.
As a frequent receiver of badly written spam, I can point out many that could help detract from an attempt to persuade. One of the most glaring is an ill-thought out plan of attack. For example in the Obama spiel, the writer draws a string of instances when “Muslim [men]… between the ages of 17 and 40… destroy[ed] Americans” and then compared them to Obama. Nevertheless, if we are attacking a man and his affiliations based on what history says, can’t the same argument be made with any other race or religion as well? Attacking using examples of acts committed by “Muslim [men]… between the ages of 17 and 40” throughout “history” is a basic fallacy of hasty generalization, not to mention a horrid example of stereotyping and racial profiling. If that’s the case, we can make the same argument about any single racial or religious group out there:
In 1941, Asian “male extremists” bombed Pearl Harbor killing 2,350 people.
From 1956 to 1975, America fought a war against Asian “male extremists” between the ages of 17 and 40.
In 2007, an Asian “male extremist” between the ages of 17 and 40 killed 32 students and faculty in the massacre at Virginia Tech.
Does that make any Asian American from 17 to 40 an extremist or unfit to take on a role of leadership in this great land we call the United States of America?
Well, as an Asian-American, I certainly hope not, and I certainly don’t think that these three instances in history are able to sway the average American to believe that Asians will destroy the country. The same goes for any other race or affiliation, whether it be black, white, Hindu, and so on.
When everything is said, done, and read, it’s obvious to see the trend in any of these types of emails. The writer fears what is unknown or what is different. While having such feelings about change in the status of the world is normal, that does not mean that the person should rely on false accusations and racial profiling to express that fear. There are better, healthier, and more productive methods for that, especially ones that don’t involve my inbox.
In the end, if these rogue emailers want to be taken seriously in any light, I thoroughly recommend some thought and rationality before ranting. Better yet, just don’t write at all. Inboxes of thousands of Americans, including my own, will thank them for not sending more pointless messages.