10 January 2011

A thoughtful reply

By now I think everyone has heard about President Obama's careless compliments to the Philadelphia Eagles and their decision to offer Michael Vick an opportunity to use his talents for legal entertainment purposes (as opposed to the vicious, sadistic, sociopathic purposes he lent them to during his tenure as Bad Newz Kennel's owner, financier and Director of Torture and Death Operations). 

It can be hard to know where to direct complaints or voice concerns in these instances of appalling misjudgment. We could ring the White House directly, but I don't imagine there is much satisfaction in leaving an irate message with an operator or intern. We can post to our blogs, knowing that we have a like-minded audience in our readers. We can rant over cocktails to our friends or the bartender at our favorite local. We can bring it up with an Eagles fan over lunch, savoring the opportunity to jab our fingers and raise our voices to someone who simply, for whatever reason, doesn't get it. But none of these efforts really addresses the issue with the person who matters the most in this particular instance. None of these efforts bends the ear and enlightens the mind of the man who made these thoughtless comments, a man whose comments receive more attention and publicity globally than anyone else alive. Which is why, when I read Bad Rap's blog post on the subject (A Worthy White House Literacy Project), I felt a sense of relief at finding a practical, satisfying outlet for my feelings on the subject. 

At Bad Rap's suggestion, we've sent a copy of Jim Gorant's The Lost Dogs to the White House. We included photos and a brief introduction to Toni and Téa. And while I do know that it is unlikely that my note and photos will make it to the President's desk, I also know that the receipt of hundreds of copies of the same book will be noticed and that some of the notes and photos will make their way up the chain of command. And if someone in the White House (ideally its most powerful resident) takes the time to educate himself on what Michael Vick is really capable of, when the cameras aren't flashing, when the cheering has quieted (which someday it will, as his arm and his legs age and his talent fades), when the stadium is quiet and he needs to make himself feel like a big man at the expense of other living creatures; if someone learns what dog fighting is really about and the brutality that men and women visit on these dogs who are so eager to please them that they will sacrifice their lives in that effort; if someone can remember that athletic prowess is no synonym for heroism and no substitute for morality; if someone takes a moment to tap into their own humanity and compassion, then perhaps the President will think more carefully about where he directs his compliments and why. 

If you want to make your voice heard, you can send a letter and/or a copy of The Lost Dogs to: 

   Mr. President and First Lady Obama
   The White House
   1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
   Washington, DC 20500

Photo from http://badrap-blog.blogspot.com/.

It's up to us to speak for the victims who cannot speak for themselves. I hope you'll take a moment to make yourself heard.

This last is taken directly from the Bad Rap blog: "More people than we ever imagined sent books to the White House after this blog post went live. A casual count tallied a minimum of 200 books sent. It seems that the large number reached critical mass a few days ago, and while the first few arrivals were signed for and accepted by WH staff (we're not sure how many), they are now turning others away. Mission Accomplished! Now what to do with all the books that are returning to their purchasers? We have a few ideas and will post asap. Thank you ALL for jumping both feet into this action."

Hopefully, at least one more mind has been enlightened.


  1. Very well stated. You are an eloquent writer, one whose voice needs to be heard. Thank you for posting this. I will do my part as well.

  2. I read about this on Bad Rap's blog too and I think it's such a great idea. I hope this helps changes a few minds.

  3. Beautifully written. I hadn't heard about Bad Rap's response to Obama's clueless words. Vick's supposed redemption rings so hollow. (Well, that's the understatement of the year, isn't it?) It makes me sick. Good for you for channeling your disgust into action.

  4. I read about this on Bad Rap's blog also but I didn't actually send a book. So glad you did. I heard they received over 200 copies! I wonder what they did with them.