Sunday, August 16, 2020



It has been a whole lotta years since I was on the receiving end of a payroll check from a studio or network. My choice. I “walked away a winner from a losing game” 25 years ago. Those years, the move to Florida and its fabulous Fisher Island just off the coast of Miami’s South Beach, have been revelatory.

As a one-time thought-to-be Type-A compulsive personality, I quickly learned that if one is truly compulsive… it is just as natural to be that way about doing nothing as it might be about doing something. Problem solved. There was also a bit of a secret to this transition. I was someone with all his “wires” plugged into a Hollywood television production monitor. I unplugged those wires and put them all into a Fisher Island monitor. The secret? There were no loose wires. Total commitment to what became my new life style.

I have only messed with those “wires” one or two times in those 25 years and always, to my regret. With all the accolades, EMMY awards, and excitement of success in the world of Hollywood, by far, the happiest 25 years of my life have been here, on Fisher Island. Sequestration, due to the Corona Virus, has only solidified that conclusion.

Some things I miss. Believe it or not, philanthropy is one of those things. I used to get a lot of pleasure giving money away… to national public radio, the ACLU, the American lung Association, the University of Southern California, various candidates for public office (almost always Democrats), political activism, The Salvation Army. These days I get so many requests for donations that, if I only gave the minimum “suggested” gift, I would be paying out more than $9,000 a month. You don’t do that in 2020 when you are living on 1995 dollars.

Election time rolls around and I turn down request after request for a contribution. There are a few I cannot resist: I would pay a lot to help the campaign to “Ditch Mitch” McConnell from the US Senate as well as that guy in the White House. The list is small and there is no need for details. The idea of contributing my time to making calls to registered Dems reminding them to vote is one that does not appeal to the persona I have so carefully nourished these past 25 years. So, what do I do?

I write E-mails to people who mistakenly think I might agree with their right-wing views or candidates. I take the time… and a considerable amount of it… to point out what I think are the flaws in their thinking and in the candidates they support. Sometimes there is a real back and forth and, as you might imagine, sometimes it can get a bit contentious. I try my best to keep my cool. I do not resort to epithets or insults. I am persistent in my quest for educable Republicans, however hard they are to find. I spend an inordinate amount of time doing this. It is my contribution to the electoral process.

I started doing this when Obama was running for President for the very first time. I haven’t missed an election “campaign” since. It gets rough from time to time, but never so much as in my most recent skirmish which started out, I thought, innocently enough.

I initiated the E-mail “blast.” To nearly 100 people in my contact list I forwarded a link to a Rolling Stone article that I thought was extraordinary. Except for a couple of references to Donald Trump, the article was a pretty even-handed critique of what has happened to America as seen by a Canadian journalist. I sent the link along and even offered an apology for the few negative references to Trump, believing the article had merit for both sides and was not meant to piss off the Republicans on my list. Oh, by the way, here is that link:

Some of the 100 recipients forwarded on my email to others on their lists which accounts for my subsequent encounter with folks I did not know at all. And what an encounter it became.

It all started out friendly enough. I was not going to have it any other way. I defused whatever insult to my parentage or intellect with good humor, pointing out, where I could, the flaws in their argument and the veracity of my own. I won some over. Not to my point of view, but to the lack of heat in my response. Some responded in kind. I thought we were getting somewhere. Turns out we were not.

I had walked away from my computer for a time… lunch, maybe?... whatever, on my return I gasped at what had taken place in my short absence. Two or three of the “combatants” (one of whom I knew) had descended into…. If they were dogs, what would be termed a feeding frenzy. Each trying to outdo the other in racist, misogynistic diatribes that even this old salt found beyond the pale offensive. I left them to their own devices.

What have we learned? I am in Florida… a swing state that is part of the deeply Republican south. That might account for what I was reading, except my emails went to no one in Mississippi, Alabama, or Georgia, but instead largely to my roots: California, New York, even Hawaii. An inordinate amount was sent (either by me or forwarded on to) alumni of my Alma Mater, the University of Southern California. So, not only were they NOT stereotypical rural southerners, they were (supposedly) educated West Coast urbanites. Scary.

I will not repeat what was written by the three most vociferous and bigoted of the E-chain. I received a few individual comments from friends saying something to the effect of “who are these guys?” But no one, certainly not me, engaged or challenged them any further once they had descended into the reveal of who/what they are.

It was a sad… awful really…to see, close-up, what has become of our polarized society. These three men went beyond Democrat and Republican rhetoric, although there was plenty of that. This went to a very ugly place. For me, to witness a man I have known since college … a guy who writes regularly about his pride in the Jewish State of Israel and who rages against anti-Semitism, descend into the realm of white supremacist overt racism, staggered me and brought into question my commitment of “stirring the pot” in order to get folks involved.

I have occasionally written about this “beast” that has always been a part of our society. How we move forward and then, something… or someone… takes us back. It shouldn’t really matter whether it is a group of Russian trolls, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News or the KKK that does it. The point is it doesn’t take much. The American resistance to this virus seems to be even weaker than it is to Covid.

We will have to wait a day or two to see if I get back on the campaign trail and send this article along to that now infected E-mail list.

Barney Rosenzweig


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