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JRCNY

I too never saw this show until I finally looked at the clips tonight on YouTube. Although I think Mr. Fowler made a mistake by going on this show and certainly made a mistake in the way he behaved and voiced his opinions, I feel terrible for him, his wife and his family. The fallout from this is horrific.

I don't think his wife should have apologized but then again I'm not in her shoes. I'm guessing her business may be suffering from the explosion of negative press over the past week or so.

I actually brought my husband into the room to see the clips.He reminds me somewhat of Mr. Fowler. We tend to agree with most of what Mr. Fowler said, not the way he said it though (at least I didn't.) We also think his wife DID have valid points and DID try some positive and helpful things in her role on the show. Hopefully something she did with the other family stuck with them or the children.

I'm sure the Fowlers wish to put this all behind them. We would love for them to know that there is a couple in NY state who understand what they were trying to say and do. We truly do hope they can soon move past this.

I was born an American. I am married to a European. We've traveled extensively. We've lived in the mid-west, briefly, out west for awhile and came back to NY. I think that explains enough for them to know that we've some understanding for where they're at and how they conduct their lives. I hope that their children and they will move through this and no real harm will be done. Since you're a neighbor, if you can, wish them well for us.

Donna

As a born and bred midwesterner, I note that the stereotype of Ms Long's familiy was as far to the right of the bell curve, as Mr. Fowler's family was to the left. The problem with what Mr. Fowler said and did was that he put himself in a position of an outsider, seeking the best of what America has to offer, and returning the worst and most judgemental side of himself.

He made himself the personification of the sneering European, and brought out the most fearful part of America. Most Americans are closer to the mean on the bell curve in regards to diet, fitness and education. On the other hand, we don't take kindly to cruel remarks as to our failings by an outsider. Nor would Engish people, if an expatriot of America went to England and began mocking that country.

The Long family, for all of their failings, adapted, listened, and took advice. The Fowlers did not. It is in the history of our country to adapt. We are a nation of other nations, coming here to better our plight, learning and accomplishing life by trial and error.

Mr. Fowler may have made the biggest trial and error of his life. Learning from that is what keeps Americans flexible, while Europe has become stiff and stagnated. He is becoming American.

Kris

Regarding the other worries we have in our lives (the economy, Darfur, etc.), I don't believe that larger world issues diminish the importance of how we treat each other on a basic level. Mr. Fowler is a perfect example of the tiny beginnings of the holes in our souls caused by mistreatment and poor sensibility.

Lisa Paul

I, too, am a neighbor of the Fowlers (although I don't know them). With the exception of any threats they may have received, I applaud the wide-spread condemnation Stephen Fowler's behavior has sparked. No, Wife Swap isn't Darfur, but don't all genocides begin when we decide we are superior to another group and begin to act on it?

Perhaps the most horrible consequence of Fowler's actions is the great harm he has done to some very important causes. We in San Francisco like to think that, at our best, we provide a good example of healthy practices, environmentally sound living and International awareness. Unfortunately, the "face" of those progressive ideas will now be Stephen Fowler's sanctimonious, cruel smirk.

Instead of listening to us, many Americans will wish instead that they were riding ATVs and playing paintball with the Longs in Missouri.

I'll have no problem, if I see Fowler in the neighborhood, of saying "shame, shame" to his face. He got EXACTLY what his cruel, pompous actions deserved.

Lulzy Cheesington

As others above have suggested, Fowler's behavior is a microcosm of the global tragedies you speak of. They all start somewhere. Once you can demonize the Other as Fowler does and strip their humanity, based on their different race, value judgements, whatever, that's when genocide and tragedy are made possible. He has all the empathy of a sociopath and he's getting what he deserves. I don't think his wife is much better either - a "life coach" with no training in nutrition, biology, etc. lulz. Shame about the kids being indoctrinated into such a worldview though.

Jacqueline S. Homan

I never watch TV. However, I was recently made aware of Stephen Fowler's stunt during a discussion about progressive causes and bridging the class divide. After thoroughly researching this episode and participant in question, I drafted this letter which has been mailed to him:

Stephen Fowler 4218 25th Street San Francisco, CA 94114

Dear Mr. Fowler:

Having recently returned from England where I presented at a human rights conference in London, I was just informed of your controversial antics on national television. It is the ramifications of your behavior on the “reality TV” show “Wife Swap” aired on January 30th 2009 which prompts my letter. I am an anomaly in my “podunk” Rust Belt Midwestern community: I am a university-educated social justice activist and author, politically progressive, and decidedly non-theist.

The effort expended to convince many in the Ohio Valley region to embrace a progressive political ideology and support a liberal black American president has been enormous. Many in communities such as mine, similar to Alan and Gayla Long’s, have harbored generations of deep-seeded mistrust of anyone who is college-educated and politically liberal. This vast region comprising a significant number of average Americans endured scorn and contempt for generations generously meted out by America’s privileged class. They have been let down by the intellectual and political elite who always claim to care about them during every election campaign, but such promises often rang hollow. Their needs have long been ignored and dismissed — hence their mistrust and reticence to welcoming progressive ideas.

Your cheap shots aimed at Gayla Long about her lack of “global awareness” embody the main reason why my work as a social justice activist has been made even more difficult than it previously had been. How can those of us living in “podunk towns” avoid being “globally aware” when the mainstream news media goes out of its way to ignore the plight of this nation’s poor and working classes in the Midwest, and in the southern coalfields of Appalachia? Instead, we are inundated with stories showcasing other places and other people’s problems while ours are always dismissed. In the Midwest or in the coal regions of Appalachia, a disaster that occurs gets maybe two minutes of coverage on national news, but a minor disruption in New York or California monopolizes the newscast for a week.

Your mistreatment of Gayla Long who was a guest in your home and your blatant contempt for all poor uneducated overweight Americans, epitomizes the reason why so many underprivileged Americans (who lack access to healthy foods and basic health and dental care) despise intellectuals who champion progressive causes; stubbornly clinging to their guns and Bibles, voting against their own interests, and against the interests of advancing our society as a whole.

Your passive-aggressive behavior in abusively berating Mrs. Long was not merely “hamming it up” for the show, as your shambolic back-handed “apology” suggests. What you displayed was gratuitous cruelty. Your nationally televised escapade gave the Bill O’Riellys, Rush Limbaughs and Sarah Palins of this country more than enough ammunition to successfully undermine the hard work of ALL progressive social justice activists — including those of us who didn’t win out in the race for life’s social prizes and rewards who are at the grassroots level of America’s progressive movements.

Several months after your disastrous television debut, the public outrage you sparked among this nation’s less fortunate has been aimed vicariously at progressive politicians — such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who, in the minds of many Americans, are representative of every self-absorbed class bigot (like yourself) responsible for keeping the majority poor, uneducated, without real opportunities and without healthcare.

You’re viewed as the archetypical rich elitist held up by neoconservative talking heads as they sing to a choir of gun-toting uneducated hillbillies: a “limousine liberal” attacking the very country and people that you live/work/leech off of — a nation where 70% of the population struggles just to put cheap unhealthy foods on the table and keep life-sustaining utilities from being shut off; people for whom travel abroad, university educations, fitness club memberships, salons, and culturally enriching entertainment venues are luxuries that are as far out of reach as a day trip to Sedna.

Every disenfranchised American that you “took the piss on” for not having had the privileges, opportunities and advantages that you’ve enjoyed is your place-keeper.

Perhaps what is missing from your global awareness repertoire and your well-rounded university education is a real, working knowledge of what foods are available and affordable to America’s poor. A simple crash course that would provide you with some sorely needed enlightenment along those lines would be for you and your wife to take “The Food Stamp Challenge” for a month. Then you will see why malnourishment and obesity are not necessarily paradoxical.

Perhaps you should also add to your personal library a book that would broaden your education on why “middle America” is in the state that it is. That book is titled Classism For Dimwits, and is available on Amazon.com. I am sure it would not be too difficult for you to digest, given your superior education. Maybe you will also see why lack of any real safety net and opportunities due to generations of paternalism has left so many Americans with no hope outside of stubbornly clinging to their guns, patriotism, and Bibles. It will provide you with some sorely needed insight about the country and its people that have benefited you socially and economically whom you’ve shown nothing but disdain and contempt for, yet whom you claimed to care so much about.

Regards,
Jacqueline Sarah Homan, Author:
Classism For Dimwits Nothing You Can Possess Eyes of a Monster Divine Right: The Truth is a Lie

http://jacquelinehoman7.googlepages.com/nothingyoucanpossess

email: jacqulineHom@aol.com

Sandy

Fabulous letter. I hope he reads it, but I suspect he is utterly lacking in insight.

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