I hurried to my files to find my column, the one Craig Skinner wrote his letter to the editor about. Alas, it didn't exist.
He said I declared that anyone who dared criticize the Republican Party during last year's election was undermining the war effort. I never said that. I criticize the Republican Party myself, and I'd be the last person to undermine the war effort.
According to Mr. Skinner, Mark Hunter said that if you criticize the GOP, you hate America. Nope -- never said that. I'll criticize anyone who deserves it, and I love America.
Mr. Skinner said that in my "typical response, Mark will claim he is no such thing." "No such thing" as what? You rant on for two excruciatingly long paragraphs without any comments that could be answered with the comment "I am no such thing". Seriously, are you reading some column written by a different Mark Hunter?
He proceeds to say I'll respond with a snide comment about John Kerry's wife. Why? Nothing I've written in months mentions Mrs. Kerry -- she's old news. Why write a letter about a column from a week before, then use it to attack me over the subject of my columns from last year?
He says I called anyone who campaigned against this president "the enemy". This is a lie, Mr. Skinner, unless, again, you've mixed up your columnists. I have good friends who voted against Bush. They are not my enemies, and they are in fact good Americans.
Mr. Skinner, who by the way declares me to be the enemy (the enemy of whom?), then proceeds to say I hate that "we" (we who?) are able to speak out against injustice. Mr. Skinner, are you serious? Honestly, do you sit down and read my columns at all, or just ask about them from still another person who chooses to hear only what they want? I speak out against injustice all the time. This nation cherishes the right to speak out against injustice.
Mr. Skinner says: "You hate that we dare to speak out against the party you support, so you must vilify us." Again, who? Are you a twin? I don't support any party, Mr. Skinner. I'm registered Republican because, in Indiana, you can't vote in the primary unless you declare a party. It's frankly ludicrous to base how you vote on what party a person is in. That primary requirement is an injustice, Mr. Skinner, and oh -- guess what? I've spoken out against it.
Mr. Skinner then declares that I said I had "'little sympathy' for those who were unable to leave the city of New Orleans".
Once again, you're either deliberately not listening, or you're reading that other Mark Hunter's column. I said -- I'm going to quote here, so listen carefully -- "I confess to having only a little sympathy to those who, ignoring the immense scope of this catastrophe, have jumped on the 'It's the world's fault for not helping us' bandwagon". I never grouped the entire population of New Orleans into that. I'm just as horrified by the human toll of this storm as anyone. I have not -- as you have -- used those awful deaths to advance a political agenda.
Mr. Skinner makes fun of our President claiming to be a Christian. Mr. Skinner, you have no idea if Bush is a true Christian or not, any more than I do. According to the accounts of those who do know him personally, he does seem to be -- which should mean faith and compassion, but not that he'll always do what you and I consider to be the "Christian" thing. It also, sadly does not prevent him or any Christian from making mistakes.
I'm most disturbed by the first thing Mr. Skinner said in his letter, although this one time he did get my words right: I said every American "should be required every year to spend a day watching the footage from the attacks (on 9/11)."
Apparently, immediately after reading that paragraph, Mr. Skinner ran off to his keyboard to start slamming out his letter. What else explains his comment that "This exemplifies the current GOP worship of violence, death and fear''? He then goes on to say, "The war in Iraq cannot be justified by any other way."
Huh? Iraq? GOP? Where did those come from?
I was talking about the war some extremists have waged against our country for more than a decade, a war that, on September 11, 2001, those terrorists made sure could be ignored no longer.
It's not a war against a party, or a president; it's a war against freedom, a war waged by people who believe it's their duty to envelope the world in a dictatorial brand of religious intolerance. Those terrorists (not "insurgents") are not going to give up if we leave Iraq or Afghanistan. Those terrorists are not going to give up if we leave the Middle East. Those terrorists are not going to give up if we elect a Democratic congress or president. Their stated goal is to convert the entire world to their own brand of fundamentalism, even though not only the rest of the world, but almost all Muslims, stand against them.
Those terrorists worship -- wallow in -- violence, death and fear. They pray for people like you, Mr. Skinner, who seem to want us to forget the 9/11 attacks, withdraw from the fight, and stick our heads in the sand -- and our necks out. This is what you would have us forget.
It has nothing to do with politics. Yes, Mr. Skinner, we should spend at least a day, every year, watching those towers fall, those hijacked planes crashed, those innocent people killed. We must not forget. We must keep up our courage, and our determination. If we don't, if we give up, they won't come for Republicans -- they'll come for everyone, including you.
I have no personal hatred for you, Mr. Skinner, just annoyance that you attack me instead of my opinions, and continually twist my words to meet your own opinions of me. I'm guilty of nothing more than having different ideas, something our country should value. "Love it or leave it", Mr. Skinner' Well, I love America. How about you?