One week after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, President Trump held a “listening session” at the White House with students, teachers, and the families of survivors of the horrific incident. Word of the meeting was carried by the Miami Herald and other major dailies around the country, as well as broadcast and cablecast outlets and the internet.
In spite of all the exposure the meeting received, a retired English teacher with obviously far too much time on her hands must have missed the news. How else to explain the postcard a day she wrote to the president for an entire year urging him to meet individually with the family members of the victims of the shooting?
Now Yvonne Mason, who also describes herself as “devoted rhetorical activist,” is enjoying her 15 minutes of fame, not for her postcard writing marathon, but for boorishly “correcting” and returning a response she finally received from the president.
She tells the Greenville News, which broke the story:
When I taught school for 17 years, I taught my kids in English that the way you present yourself in writing says a lot about who you are, about what you care about, about whether or not you care to get it right.
Mason says she initially declined to assign a letter grade to the hard copy, though now that she has the public’s attention, she went on to add, “If it had been written in middle school, I’d give it a C or C-plus. If it had been written in high school, I’d give it a D.”
One of her chief criticisms of the president’s letter is what she claims to be his overuse of the first-person pronoun “I.” I count five in all (they are the passages highlighted by her in yellow), which hardly strikes me as excessive in a letter that looks to be about 150 words. (Mason must have had a field day with Barack Obama, who used I, me, and my 199 times in a single speech.)
Another of her beefs is Trump’s capitalization of common nouns, such as nation, which she calls out differently in every instance, the last time with the tender advice “OMG, this is WRONG!” (She also claims the letter contains a dangling modifier, which she doesn’t bother to point out, most likely because there isn’t one.)
Ultimately, this is all just another silly hit job on the president by another detractor.
*UPDATE* J.E. Dyer has pointed out another fly in poor Yvonne Mason’s bitter ointment. According to the official federal government style manual, the word nation — which Mason flags four separate times for its alleged faulty capitalization — does take a capital when the nation in question is the United States of America:
The words federal and government, capitalization of which Mason also makes a federal case out of, are likewise capitalized when referring to America’s administrative divisions. The edition of the style book in which these designation appears, by the way, was published in 2016: during Obama’s term in office.