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Kathleen Parker on what it is like when the ‘base’ discovers you are not a true conservative.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a traitor and an idiot. Also, my mother should have aborted me and left me in a Dumpster, but since she didn’t, I should “off” myself.

Those are just a few nuggets randomly selected from thousands of e-mails written in response to my column suggesting that Sarah Palin is out of her league and should step down.

Who says public discourse hasn’t deteriorated?

The fierce reaction to my column has been both bracing and enlightening. After 20 years of column writing, I’m familiar with angry mail. But the past few days have produced responses of a different order. Not just angry, but vicious and threatening.

Some of my usual readers feel betrayed because I previously have written favorably of Palin. By changing my mind and saying so, I am viewed as a traitor to the Republican Party—not a “true” conservative.

Palin’s fans say they like her specifically because she’s an outsider, not part of the Washington club. When she flubs during interviews, they identify with that too. “You see the lack of polish, we applaud it,” one reader wrote.

I have been waiting for five years to hear the Dixie Chicks get their apology.

The picture is this: Anyone who dares express an opinion that runs counter to the party line will be silenced. That doesn’t sound American to me, but Stalin would approve. Readers have every right to reject my opinion. But when we decide that a person is a traitor and should die for having an opinion different than one’s own, then we cross into territory that puts all freedoms at risk. (I hear you, Dixie Chicks.)

Maybe Kathleen will get hers at the same time?

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Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

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