There are two file folders in the lower, right drawer of my desk. One is labeled “Mail,” the other “Another Satisfied Customer.”
The former is filled with complimentary or question-asking reader mail. The latter holds mail that’s more acidic than affectionate, more hammering than humorous.
Like an email from “Gil” in response to an October column on Congressional missteps with the farm bill. “Congratulations in writing a very prejudiced article with a predetermined conclusion… (Did you do) it for glory, money or prestige?”
Tea party economics
Similarly, a letter from “Dave” begins with a thumb in the eye—“Your column … shows the left-leaning liberal that you really are”—before delivering a lecture on tea party economics. It concludes with a warning: “I think it’s time you and all liberals quit bashing the GOP and especially the tea party… before it’s too late.”
One reader was incensed by my description of an about-to-close Catholic church near my southern Illinois boyhood home as “an outpost of Rome” and by my reference to Martin Luther as “Rome’s worst nightmare ever.”
“You ruined an otherwise nice article about rural economics,” the email read. “You obviously live a shallow life and have an even shallower faith… I find your kind of prejudice no better than that of racist jerks.”
Banking reform law
A November column on the slow implementation of Dodd-Frank, a three-year old banking reform law still not in place, inspired several people to verbally beat from me any notion that Dodd-Frank, both the law and its authors, contained on ounce of anything good.
Both Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.) and Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. were, in fact, “directly responsible for the housing market crash!” wrote one. “They should have been tarred, feathered, and rode out of town on a rail on their way to jail!”
A late September column that referred to the House Ag Committee as the “Chicken Liver Caucus” brought a caisson of mail—all incendiary. One from “W” captures the overall sentiment quite well.
“I’m sure you’ll want to (soon) write about the Democratic Chicken Liver Caucus in the Senate and their part in the government shutdown… Your hateful tone is just as offensive… as the thugs in the White House and the extremist leftists…”
One equally hacked writer suggested the column “would be a whole lot better if you just told it the way it is.”
Since July, reader-writers from 26 states thought I did just that. “I say you are incisive and objective and I find myself in (Nebraska) encouraging locals to ‘read Alan Guebert today, page…’ Go get ‘em.”
Likewise, a Colorado rancher got off his horse and on his computer to email his thanks for “telling the ‘right side’ of every issue.”
Right or not, I expected to be buried in angry emails after an early September column asked why everyone in farming and ranching talks forever about “feeding the world” but never once say one word about world population.
Amazingly, not one anger-filled scream arrived. Instead, emails from all over the world poured in to thank me for pointing out the obvious. One from “Juergen” speaks for rest: “Thanks. You are so right—population is the elephant in the room and no one can gather the courage to talk about it.”
And, finally, many writers asked about an anticipated book that compiles more than 20 years of “southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth” columns. Such a compilation (nearly 60 of ‘em; wow), in fact, was completed this fall by daughter Mary Grace, a terrific editor, and now rests with an interested publisher. Gracie and I await a go, no-go decision hopefully in a month or two. So, please, stay tuned.
In the meantime, I’ll keeping writing to you and—I’d bet hard money—you’ll keep writing to me.
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