On Writing a Letter to Rick Santorum

I promised Lisa at PhilCon that I’d post about this. 🙂

In the run-up to the mid-term election Pennsylvania’s junior Senator, Rick Santorum, made a most bizarre statement: that the war in Iraq was drawing the Eye of Mordor away from the United States. No, really. He did.

“As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else. It’s being drawn to Iraq and it’s not being drawn to the U.S. You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don’t want the Eye to come back here to the United States.”

It occurred to me at the time that Rick Santorum may be a theocratic freak who homeschools his kids in Virginia on the Pennsylvania taxpayer’s dime, but he still finds the time to be a Lord of the Rings geek. If Santorum could compare the Iraq War to The Lord of the Rings, surely there were better parallels he could have chosen. I pondered this for a few days, and then, after the election and Santorum’s crushing defeat I sat at the computer and pounded out a letter:

Dear Senator Santorum:

As a writer and fan of science-fiction and fantasy I was both amused and amazed at your comments before the election comparing the American involvement in Iraq to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I was amused because, despite the popularity of Peter Jackson’s film adaptations, The Lord of the Rings remains something of a cult book and language. I was amazed to see someone of your stature and position using the language of The Lord of the Rings in such an insightful manner. Fans know fans, Senator Santorum, and it was clear to me that you have long been a fan of Tolkien’s vast creation. I salute you for being so public in your fandom.

I would like to share with you one of my favorite quotes from Lord of the Rings, specifically from the film adaptation of The Two Towers amid the ruins of Osgiliath, though Samwise Gamgee expresses something quite similar in Tolkien’s original as he and Frodo pass through the pass at Cirith Ungol:

It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing. The shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding onto something — that there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.

I thought of that speech — and it is an inspirational speech — this past week as the election results came in, as Democratic candidates at all levels of government claimed victory. A new day had come, the nightmare that these past six years have been was passing as the shadows part. There is good in this world, and the Democratic Party fought for it. Thank you for reminding me of that when you spoke of Iraq and the Eye of Mordor.

From one fan to another, sincerely,

Allyn Gibson
Renowned Tormentor of Dragons

Okay, maybe I was gloating just a little. But it’s Rick Santorum. He lost. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.

No response yet. Given the newer, tighter security measures on mail, Santorum will be lucky to receive the letter before mid-December. Given the subject matter, there’s no real chance of Santorum writing back. More’s the pity.

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