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WINNING THE WAR WITH OURSELVES
By Joe Brancatelli
September 16, 2010 -- After I posted last week's column and sent out the Friday morning newsletter, I sat at my computer waiting for what I thought would be the inevitable backlash.

And it came. Two cancellations. "Your column was offensive and I want to cancel my membership," one now-former member told me. She didn't say why she was offended. But at least she sent a note. The other cancellation demand came with no note at all. Just CANCEL MY SUBSCRIPTION written in the subject line.

Then came something else. Hundreds of E-mails from you. All of them with wonderful messages.

About what you think about the distressing wave of ignorance and intolerance sweeping the country. About why you personally reject the notion of an America where people can be told where to worship or what to believe or how to live. No screeds. No politics or red state/blue state raging. No let's-do-to-them-what-they're-doing-to-us rhetoric. None of the inevitable how-stupid-is-the-TSA tales that we all surely have.

From you ladies and gentlemen, only admirable statements about what you feel about where we are nine years after 9/11. I thought you'd like to read a little bit about how your fellow flyers feel.

OVERBOARD
Our freedoms should not be so very easily thrown overboard. For all, not just ourselves. For all of the people who look different, speak differently and worship a God in a different manner, with a different name. -- Michael

THE ENEMY AND US
As Pogo aptly put it so many years ago, "We have met the enemy and he is us." We should be united, yet we do everything to fractionalize ourselves into smaller and smaller and crazier and crazier interest groups. "For the common good" now means everybody only if you belong to a teeny tiny little interest group that sees itself as the one and only right-thinking set of individuals who deserve anything. I mourn the waste involved in Americans' tendency to want to rip each other (actually, morally, philosophically) to shreds. -- Hope

DOWNHILL
I recently had a conversation over lunch with two people who happen to have been born in Iran, but have lived here for decades. We all found it hard to believe that we are drifting downhill on many levels and there does not seem to be anything to slow us down. More than scary to say the least. That being said, they said they would not live anywhere else. I might. -- Craig

TOWARD A BETTER AMERICAN MODEL
There is a pervasive cynicism amongst us Americans (and especially us Californians) that lawmakers are dysfunctional and the system is impossible to change. It's up to us as individuals to challenge the status quo and work to make America a more valid model of democracy, integrity and individual freedom. -- Mark

WHAT WE THOUGHT ABOUT THE PAST
Nine years ago, I also had no idea that there were people who called themselves Americans and yet did not really believe in America's ideals. [We need] to do something against the ignorance and bigotry that seems to have taken over much of this great country. -- John

OUR FEAR FOR THE PRESENT
I used to believe that it was just radicals on either end of the spectrum commandeering the discussion and that the great middle is simply unable or unwilling to speak up. I am not sure about that anymore. Rants and raves have hijacked the issue, leaving no room for legitimate debate, clear-minded thinking, and consensus building. Sensible voices need to be heard. -- Mark

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
The one bright spot I see in all of this is that there has been widespread condemnation of the man in Florida who has proposed burning the Muslim holy book. And I have heard an increasing number of people point out the facts regarding the Park 51 project. I sincerely hope that there is better news next year at this time. -- Bob

FEAR FACTOR
On 9/11, I was in the Red Carpet Club in Denver and watched the news as the second plane came into the Towers. Then I (and a lot of other folks) went down and got on the Interstate for Seattle. I recall commenting to my seat mate, "I hope the government doesn't over-react." Then we were told about the ground-halt. Even now, the fear factor is so prevalent. It gains media audience and it is so very useful for politicians to wave the bloody shirt. -- Frank

GOODNESS AND COURAGE
Take comfort in this thought: Even if the idiot pastor burns the Koran, there will be groups marching and protesting against him. Yes, there is intolerance and ignorance in the world, and, when I'm very jetlagged, I get dark about it. But there is also goodness and courage, and, when I'm well-rested, I take comfort in that. -- Donna

When I launched this Web site almost nine years ago, I expected it to last a month. I only wanted it to last a month, until the commercial publishers shook off the horrors of 9/11 and realized that business travelers could still be profitably served.

They never did and every day I wonder why. And every day, if the truth be told, I wake up wherever I am in the world and wonder how long those of us who volunteer our time and effort to keep this site running can continue to do it. There's never enough time or money or energy to do what I know needs to be done.

But as your comments above show, you are all incredibly decent and thoughtful people. Journalists like us crave the opportunity to work for such an intelligent and honorable audience.

So if you soldier on, so will I. So will Chris Barnett and Michael Matthews and Martin Deutsch and Karen Fawcett and David Rowell and Phil Baker and Marlene Fedin and all of the others.

It is truly an honor to know you. And we are all honored to work for you and with you.

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ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.

THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.

This column is Copyright 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.