A Teacher’s Open Letter to Meghan McCain re: Writing

Meghan, you’ve had to put up with quite a lot recently; the Coulter/Ingraham business cannot be fun, particularly when they do what people of that ilk so often do: go for the personal as though that was the most important thing, not the argument you were trying to make in the first place.  Ignorant dismissiveness is a damning trait; you were just its victim, and no one should be. 

Now….that said, I’d like to talk to you about your writing, because this is what concerns me (you’re not a student of mine and never have been, of course, but it’s necessary to say these things anyway).  I have a notion about what set off those two harpies: it was the general tone you use in “My Beef….”  Now, clearly you had some pre-existing ideas about C. before you sat down to write—or so the teacher hopes.  But it doesn’t sound that way in the post.  Instead, it sounds rather like she was someone you’d just met, which (again, the teacher hopes) simply isn’t the case.  I’ve said all this before, but now I address it to you: tone is everything, and in this instance it suggests that you are intellectually vulnerable.

And that seems to be what happened.  LI and AC saw an opening, and went after it like a boxer would.  They’ve taken away some of your naivete, and in the process taught you not to leave yourself so open to attack.  Punching first usually means the counterpunch is coming.  Now you know.

Sure, these are crass and finally disreputable people.  Yet, here you are among them, and you’re also armed.  You have a podium from which to speak; if you’re going to use it, improve your skills.  You could well have said you were waiting for your chance to speak, having thought all these things without writing about them in the public media.  But you didn’t.  Instead you sounded like AC was news to you.  That became the other side’s chance to unload on you.  It was all in the tone.  That’s just the truth.

Use the blog as a chance to improve those skills, not to imitate, say, AC, but to provide an intelligent alternative to that stridence.  Of course, privelige is something else you shouldn’t talk much about, considering, but AC and LI are impossibly high-born children.  They write that way, too.  You have a talent for vernacular speech, a weapon they lack.  That becomes something  else you can use.

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About johnwylam1957

I'm a poet and teacher now living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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