Just about everyone with an e-mail address is doomed to fall victim to the evil forward fairy. Well-intended messages with pictures of cute, fluffy domesticated animals, incredible stories with questionable origins, fantastic examples of Photoshop forgery, and myriad offensive political statements bombard my inbox daily. And yet, until today, I just read a few that looked mildly interesting and deleted the rest. I never responded, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings, no matter how much some of these idiotic things have offended me.

Today, however, one of these forwards forced me from my e-mail hermitage. I tried to make my response as clear, precise, logical, and calm as humanly possible: no offensiveness, just facts. Facts seem to be what many of these political statements are lacking.

I haven’t spoken to this woman since high school in Calif. 16 years back. We were never great friends, but we hung out with the same people. About two years ago, through the same mutual friends, we got back in touch through e-mail. An onslaught of forwards ensued.

Silently, I have endured. I merely rolled my eyes at the sight of a picture of Obama in a turban outside a mosque (obviously Photoshopped), deleted everything that even looked like it would end in something akin to “forward this to 10 ppl or u have no soul!!” Okay, if your politics tend to be extreme or very religious in any direction, fine — but leave me out of your hate mongering. I know you’re all trying to make the world a better place by forcing your ideals on other people, but when has that ever worked out for the best?

Still, these silly forwards circulate through cyberspace, crowding out common sense and e-mails that I actually need to read. I deleted all but two, as I’d had a long day and thought that maybe looking at something cute and fluffy licking my monitor from the other side might for some reason lighten my mood. I know, I know — terrible. But never underestimate the power of psychological stimuli.

Instead, I got this rant about how the Garden of Eden was supposedly in Iraq (prove it) and all kinds of biblical stuff. It didn’t bother me too much until I got to the end, and read this claptrap:

“And also, this is something to think about: Since America is
typically represented by an eagle. Saddam should have read up on his Muslim passages …
The following verse is from the Koran,
Koran ( 9:11 ) – For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle.. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair still more rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah;
And there was peace.”

I had to say something. Being ignorant is one thing, but twisting someone else’s religious text to the advantage of your own political views is just despicable. I replied:

“Funny. According to my Quran (which is between my Bible and my Kabbalah and next to the Book of Mormon, Tibetan Book of the Dead and Tao Te Ching), the 9:11 passage (Sura 9) reads “But if they repent, perform regular prayers, and give regular charities, they are your Brothers in Faith.”

That’s all. I stopped myself from saying something rude. I wanted to get the point across that people shouldn’t believe — or circulate, for that matter — everything they read that sounds good — not if they want to be taken seriously. People who actually care what kind of world they live in will at least attempt to understand their fellow human beings, especially those they don’t agree with. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings or alienate her. No matter how ignorant she chooses to be, that is still her choice to make.

Now if I can just get people to respect the choices I’ve made and stop giving me dirty looks every time I show up smelling like a coffee shop…

I have no idea if she’ll reply or stop sending me forwards. I hope she looks into things more and tries to broaden her perspective, but in my experience, most people just get angry at the truth. Granted, truth is often a spiky thing to embrace, but it sure saves a lot of time and trouble when you do.