I’ve gotten most of my spices from Penzeys Spices since just after Clare was born. That’s over 30 years! That’s a very long time to be a loyal customer. If you don’t know much about Penzeys Spices, it is a retailer of spices headquartered in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. It operates physical stores as well as mail order and online shopping. The spices are very good.
The owner, Bill Penzey Jr., writes editorials in his emails, on his website and in his catalogs. The editorials are usually about kindness and goodness and how to make life better by cooking, but in recent years they have gotten very political. Over the years I have usually agreed with what Bill Penzey wrote in his editorials but there were a couple of times he and I didn’t see eye-to-eye. One was when he wrote about a cable television program that he loved (John from Cincinnati) that I found very disturbing and stopped watching after seeing a creepy scene between a mother and her teenaged son.
I was 100% behind Bill when he blasted the trumpet and his supporters after the 2016 presidential election. I cheered Bill’s emails when he called for impeaching the trumpet. I was proud to have been such a longtime supporter of Penzeys Spices. My sister-in-law, on the other hand, unsubscribed from Penzeys Spices emails because of what he was saying. She still likes the spices and still uses them and will still buy them, but probably won’t subscribe to his emails again.
Recently Bill sent out an email with the subject: All Republicans are Republicans. I think it was a follow-up to his January 6th email which was about 2021 Capitol Attack. In the email Bill says:
All Republicans are Republicans. There’s a regularly reoccurring email theme I get from seemingly a variety of people that goes along the lines of: Just like all Germans weren’t Nazis, not all Republican voters support what’s happening. Sorry, but nope. If you want to say just like all Germans weren’t Nazis, all Americans aren’t Republicans, sure I’m right there with you. But no one is forcing anyone to be a Republican; as of now it’s still a choice.Bill Penzey
A few days after the All Republicans are Republicans email Bill sent an email with far more incendiary subject line: All Republicans are Racists.
In this email he says:
And I get it. If you are a Republican voter you are now cheesed off. You were promised that there would never be any accountability for your support of the party of open “textbook” racism. Sorry, but for the betterment of all Americans, you included, we’ve decided to end that rule. And I really don’t care what your race is or how many of your friends “happen to be” whatever. None of that excuses you.Bill Penzey
So this is when I decided to delete the email rather than read it. It made me uncomfortable that Bill Penzey would do this, especially during the time we should honor Dr. King. And also, I believe that we are all racists on some level and to varying degrees. It’s hard to grow up in a racist society and not be a racist. Yeah, I get what he is saying, but the when and how bothered me.
Over the next few days I received a few more similarly titled emails landed in my inbox and I deleted them too.
The first of the follow-up emails starts with this:
This one has people waking up. Unsubscribing, too, 4/10ths of one percent so far, so it seems worth repeating. I appreciate your emails to my address below, but I’m still working through yesterday’s emails, so you can also click on these Twitter and Facebook page links if you want your comments to reach a wider audience. I am excited for how this leads into the Dr King holiday. Thanks!Bill Penzey
The second, titled Republicans’ Racism Isn’t a Victimless Crime is a different email entirely and starts:
Not entirely comfortable with our Republicans Are Racists Weekend? Dr. King wrote you a letter from a Birmingham jail just short of sixty years ago addressing exactly what you are feeling and why those feelings aren’t entirely helpful. And I get it. I don’t like tension. I don’t like confrontation. But the reality of life is that Justice and Equality are never won or preserved from inside of our comfort zones.Bill Penzey
So now, after having read through these formerly deleted emails, how am I feeling? I do get Bill’s point. I see that he wants to be confrontational. Maybe that’s it. I was uncomfortable with the confrontational subject lines. Bill (and Dr. King) are right — this is not the time to back away from confrontation.