So last night I got an e-mail from an angry reader, lambasting me for something offensive/inappropriate/deplorable that I said on this site -- you know, the kind of thing I get all the time.
This person, though, was complaining about something I said about her.
Her name is Sakina Mengle and I have to admit that since I didn't recognize it, I had to run a search through the archives and find what it was she was talking about. Turns out she's a black woman from Maryland who was -- and still is -- featured prominently on the "Diverse Tea" website. The group is aimed at proving that, no, Barack Obama's race and multicultural background have nothing to do with why the people who formed the Tea Party suddenly decided that they'd had enough of unchecked spending and government overreach only and immediately after Obama became president.
Needless to say, my comment on the matter -- posted last October -- was predictably tactful:
"You know, I can't wait for Sakina's first official Tea Party photo op -- when she walks out onto a stage at one of the group's rallies and half the crowd instinctively begins bidding on her."
As you might expect, Sakina pressed me to explain what kind of person could say such a thing, who I think I am, what my wife and child would say*, whether I had any shame**, etc.
I quickly responded to her and explained that my comment wasn't really aimed at her as much as it was at the Tea Party in general and what I believed, and still believe, to be the racist and xenophobic undercurrent to the group as a political movement. I said that, from what I can see, it did actually evolve as a direct response to the ascendancy of Obama, a guy who scares the hell out of a lot of people who feel like they're losing grip on "their America." Economics and silly worries about "socialism" do play a part, I wrote, but if the leader of the United States were still the traditional aging, white, Christian guy -- instead of the black, multicultural, highly educated and mildly progressive-minded guy who's there now -- I don't think she'd be standing out on the Capitol Mall with a bunch of other like-minded and suddenly fed-up people complaining up a storm.
Then I thanked her for taking the time to write and for being relatively nice, although appropriately indignant.
I think I've made a new friend. And really, isn't that what the internet is all about?
*"I was just out with some friends," and "Can I have some Skittles?" respectively.
**Not that I can tell.