Dear class agent: here's what you can do with your fundraising letter

After a folksy opening paragraph, my college Class Fund Director had this to say:

“I can see where making a financial contribution to a relatively well heeled college such as ours, to some, smacks of insensitivity much less irrelevance. After all, there are so many other worthwhile endeavors along with gut-wrenching emotions that require our immediate attention. “The victims”, the plight of the Afghan refugees (not to mention the most at risk who can’t get out), etc. are burnt into just about each passing thought.”

“The victims”??? Is there some reason you put this phrase in quotes? Apparently you either don’t consider the people killed in the 9/11 attacks true victims, or you’re tired of hearing about them. You seem much more concerned about Afghan refugees - and juxtaposing them with “The victims” makes it look like you are equating deliberate murders by bin Laden and his terrorist crew with the war-related casualties and hardships experienced by Afghans.

Yes, this “smacks of insensitivity”, big time. But it’s not that or your particular brand of airheadedness that’s most striking. It’s this:

What were you thinking of when you put this crap in our class fundraising letter?

At a time when charitable efforts are stressed because of the strains already placed on Americans’ gift-giving resources, what you do not want to do is give offense to a big chunk of your target audience. And I can only imagine the hurt and anger felt by anyone who lost a friend or relative in the attacks.
As to my own contribution to the school this year, my first thought was that it shouldn’t be punished on account of you. But something else you said in the letter is giving me pause. “I like to think that when we finished our (education), we were “better,” in part, because we were taught to think, analyze, question, and solve problems. These are attributes and skills that are essential…for massaging the future into a more just and safe post-September 11 world.”

You see, that’s the problem. I can remember in our class too many people like you, whose reflexive guilt and loathing for their country and the principles we struggle to uphold, made it impossible for them to think clearly on any important issue. If the college is still churning out people like this (and you’re enthused that it is), then I may be doing more harm than good by contributing.

I’m seriously considering whether the money I was planning to send the alma mater would do more good at one or more of our domestic relief agencies. Or Doctors Without Borders.

I wouldn’t read too much into those qoutation marks. Yes, anyone with a lick of literacy knows that putting quotes around a word or phrase is a clear indicator of sarcastic intent, but keep in mind that qoutation marks are one of the most frequently abused punctuations, second only to the apostrophe. I doubt the guy who wrote this intended any sort of slight against anyone who died in the attacks; he just can’t write for shit. C’mon, “massaging the future?” You should refuse to give money to your alma mater on the basis that they actually graduated someone who writes like that. Hell, you ought to demand your tuition back.

Maybe putting that word in quotes is their lazy way of clueing you in to what victims they are referring to, without having to add “of the September 11 attacks” or somesuch.

Jackmannii, this is a case of bad writing and you looking to take offense. Perhaps your donation this year could be a well written fundraising form letter.

No, I not looking to take offense. I think I be pissed off for good reason. :wink:

I think there are too many indicators in this letter of the writer’s personal/political feelings to pass it all off as a case of bad writing. And while I just got this letter, I’ve already heard from another alum who feels the same way.

Nah, he put “the victims” in quotes to show that he was talking about “THE” victims. It’s for emphasis. Actually, what he should have written was this:

Because that’s the sense of it. If he’d been talking to you face-to-face, that’s the way he would’ve said it, with the air quotes before he said, “The victims”.

Plus he was too fuckin’ lazy to add “in NYC, Washington and Pennsylvania,” or even simpler, “of 9/11.”

And that boyo isn’t going to help us “massage” the future if he keeps abusing the language like that. Sheesh.

I agree with the near-consensus here: points off for lazy use of quotation marks and sloppy writing, no points off for imaginary attempt to denigrate the victims of terrorist attacks. C’mon, I haven’t seen anybody in this society attempt to claim that the victims of the 9/11 attacks weren’t really “victims” or don’t deserve our sympathy and grief, even among the most outspoken critics of American policies. (The most outspoken critics of American policies, on the contrary, apparently tend to be extra mad about the fate of the victims because they believe that part of the responsibility for it rests with the victims’ own government.)

Your concern about the “juxtaposition” (no no, I’m not using quotes ironically, I’m just making it clear that I’m borrowing the term you used ;)) of the 9/11 victims with civilian suffering in Afghanistan also seems a little misguided. I really have a hard time reading that to mean “terrorist murders must be equated with war-related casualties.” It seems to mean quite plainly “we are all in distress and shock about terrorist murders, war-related casualties, and the suffering of innocent victims in general.” I agree that this is an extremely touchy and painful subject, but that’s just the kind of subject on which we should try our best to be slow to take offense.

On the other hand, if you do decide to withhold your annual contribution from your alma mater because of this, I’m all in favor of your passing it on to DWB or another relief organization. (Personally, I like the AFSC and the SEIU 9/11 Relief Fund, among others.)