"We would NEVER ship to Iraq. If you were sensible, you and your troops would pull out of Iraq." - Bargain Suppliers employee to SGT Hess, 1st Cav (Iraq)
"If you look at the polls, his opinion is reflected by a majority of Americans now." - Othman Atta,, Islamic Society of Milwaukee
I received over 120 emails about the supplier in Milwaukee who responded to Sergeant Hess's query if the company shipped to military addresses since SGT Hess was with the 1st Cav in Iraq.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has followed up on the story. I refrained from posting the rumor until we had more info. Looks like the incident happened as SGT Hess portrayed it. Below, via Tony, is the actual email exchange where SGT Hess is inquiring if the Wisconsin company would ship sleeping mats to military addresses (ie Iraq):
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++On Tue Jan 16 3:25, [email protected] sent:
To Whom it may concern:
Do you ship to APO addresses?
I'm in the 1st Cavalry Division stationed in Iraq and we are trying to order some mats but we are looking for who ships to APO first.
From: [email protected] [mailto: [email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 9:44 PM
Subject: Re: Feedback: from discount-mats.com
We do not ship to APO addresses, and even if we did, we would NEVER ship to Iraq. If you were sensible, you and your troops would pull out of Iraq.
Now Bargain Suppliers is concerned for the saftey of their employee and his family. Via the Journal Sentinel online:
Bargain Suppliers of West Allis said its discount-mats.com Web site had to be taken down Monday to address the thousands of e-mails it's received since news of the exchange - in which an employee voiced opposition to the war in Iraq - began circulating on the Internet last week.
Vice president Sajid Nasir said the employee is being "held accountable." But he said the incendiary and threatening nature of some of the e-mails - and voicemails left at the West Allis home that co-owner Faisal Khetani shares with his parents - have shaken the family.
"It's really getting out of control," said Nasir, who described the messages as "angry and vulgar."
"Our main concern is for the safety of the family. That's more important than the business," he said.
Repeated attempts to reach the Khetanis were unsuccessful.
The controversy exploded last week when a soldier, identifying himself as Sgt. Jason Hess of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division, sent an e-mail to discount-mats.com asking if it ships to military addresses.
Someone on the other end answered no, but went on to add that "even if we did, we would NEVER ship to Iraq. If you were sensible, you and your troops would pull out of Iraq."
Anti-war and free speech advocates were equally offended, by the widespread criticism of the company and the individual who responded to the soldier.
"This is a matter of free speech," said Julie Enslow, an organizer with Peace Action Wisconsin in Milwaukee. "It is totally irresponsible for radio stations and bloggers to attack a person for his personal political views."
Othman Atta, president of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, said he would fault the worker for his lack of tact but defended his right to speak his mind.
"If you look at the polls, his opinion is reflected by a majority of Americans now," Atta said. "In the United States, everyone one is free to speak their opinion."
Atta appeared concerned that the controversy might fuel anti-Muslim and anti-Middle Eastern sentiment.
"Some people will look for any excuse to target people from the Middle East," he said...
Well, I think this is done. While the business has been substantially hurt, but I doubt that you'll change their minds about supporting the troops. They have every right to choose not to ship to APOs.
You could go to their customers and ask them to find another supplier, but other than that, there's not much you can do. I wouldn't even send an email or you might get labeled as anti-free speech. And please don't send unprofessional emails to these folks. Believe me, I get plenty of those and I don't read them (except for laughs every once in awhile).
Ironic isn't it?
Some clerk in Wisconsin gets defended on the basis of free speech but you can't respond?