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"You know, very corny things, but when you're at the center of this very destructive angry thing...I mean, it was like I was caught inside a tornado, and I couldn't quite get out of it."

Hmm. So she has all good things to say about the neighborhood.

I rag on this neighborhood all the time. For one thing, many of us have lived here way too long. My wife and I moved into our house on the Chrome Coast in 1984, and we were latecomers. Our kids have all grown up together. Or not.

We are bound together by certain legal tendrils because of our status as the city's first historic district, requiring... ugh!...meetings. I sometimes think of us like an East Texas all-cousin town with ancient feuds and other issues that will only be cured by an expansion of the gene pool. But that is also what is anomalous and valuable about the neighborhood. We do know each other. We're not raw-dirt McMansion flotsam and jetsam.

I didn't say this to her, but I know: Some people in the neighborhood who are ferociously pro-Bush were thrilled to see her Guard story trashed. Some people are so anti-Bush they didn't need any additional evidence. The spectrum of political opinion is at least as broad here as it is in the rest of the country. But we all walk our dogs together.

I asked Mapes what the difference was between the universe of the blogosphere and the world of our little neighborhood. Without missing a beat she said, "The neighborhood is face to face."

I'm reading a great book: Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America, by John M. Barrie. In the section I'm on now, he's telling the story of the terrible division of America in the early 1920s between progressive urban forces and the Ku Klux Klan movement that engulfed much of rural and small-town America.

Decent Southerners like the powerful Percy family in the Mississippi Delta stood up to the Klan. One of their most effective strategies was to ridicule the Klan's penchant for secrecy, for hiding behind masks. Eventually the better impulses of Americans allowed them to see the masks and robes for what they were--emblems of cowardice.

I promise I am not asking you to change your opinion of George W. Bush. I don't even care if you still think the Guard documents are fake. None of that is the point for me.

My point is that the anonymous haters and extremists on the Internet are the Ku Klux Klan of today. They are the vile enemies of fundamental decency.

And by the way, as far as I could tell, even after all those months shut up in the house with the Morning News guy, the dogs are fine.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze