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Date Added: Dec. 20, 2002
One large problem with so-called "boycott" chain letters is that their authors usually aren't so much interested in a boycott as they are to spread outrage. That's why most of these boycotts are utterly ineffective - after all, how could you boycott something that you weren't going to buy in the first place? This chain carries a theme that resonates with many Americans, but what does it really seek to accomplish?
Subject: Postage Stamp
Dear Fellow Patriotic Americans,
REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of PanAm Flight 103,
Now the United States Postal Service REMEMBERS and HONORS the EID MUSLIM holiday season with a commemorative first class holiday postage stamp.
I strongly urge you to REMEMBER to adamantly and vocally BOYCOTT this stamp when purchasing your holiday stamps at the post office. To use this stamp would be a slap in the face to all those AMERICANS who died at the hands of those whom this stamp honors.
I also strongly urge you to pass this along to every Patriotic AMERICAN you know, whether by email or otherwise.
The stamp referred to above is real. Originally issued just days before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C., it commemorated the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha and was reissued on October 10, 2002. It was most recently reissued on Sept. 28, 2007.
Eid al-Fitr celebrates the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and is celebrated similarly to Christmas and Hanukkah, with feasting, gift giving and sharing time with family and friends. Eid al-Adha is observed approximately 2 months and 10 days later through prayers and social gatherings.
The Eid stamp is part of the U.S. Postal Service's Holiday Celebrations series, along with designs commemorating Hanukkah, a Jewish high holiday, and Kwanzaa, a cultural celebration predominantly observed by African-Americans. The postal service has produced 40 million of the 41-cent first class stamps, the proceeds of which cover the cost of postage only
It seems highly unlikely that this chain's originator's intention was really to organize a successful boycott. After all, in order for a boycott to be effective, its participants must be likely consumers of the item to be boycotted. In this case, the likely consumers of a Muslim holiday stamp would be Muslims.
This letter does much more to appeal to non-muslims, who would have little impact on the sales of the stamp, since the U.S. Postal Service did not expect them to buy it in the first place (Christians and Jews each have their own holiday stamp), and isn't foisting it upon them. In fact, I've heard reports that the stamp may not even be available at post offices that serve communities where there is not a sizable Muslim population.
Rather, it seems much more feasible that the author's intent was to express his or her own distrust of Islam and frustration at federal tax dollars being used to create a stamp that he or she feels is inappropriate, given recent events (the list of attacks carried out by muslim terrorist in the chain letter above is fairly accurate).
But the author and those who have supported this chain make several dangerous leaps of logic:
The veracity of the above points are subject to debate, one which I will not get into here. Suffice it to say, this chain letter, which started circulating in the 2001 holiday season, has resurfaced every holiday season since, and consistently brings with it a good deal of heated discussion through e-mail circles and message boards. People on both sides of the debate feel very strongly about their views, and I've heard stories of lifelong friendships and even marriages ended because of this chain letter with a deceptively simple premise.
BreakTheChain.org generally recommends against participating in or forwarding e-mail boycott requests because of their relative ineffectiveness and privacy risks. For more on how to evaluate boycott chains, read our primer on Armchair Activism. Break this chain.
References: USPS News Release, Sept. 28, 2007