What Is Wrong With Us?   1 comment

This is Lela. The book is going well and I’m emerging from the writer’s cave. And, I’ve been thinking.

Incivility 1We’ve arrived at a point in our history where gangs of hecklers chase politicians from restaurants and Senate hearings lack all semblance of decorum. Perhaps it’s not surprising that family members and friends part ways over politics.

Is there something in the water? New examples of incivility and violence toward dissenters appear every day. Last week, when I needed a break from editing, I casually browsed several sites online. There was a professor advocating castration for white Republicans; celebrities mocking Kanye West (a black man) for praising the president; strangers leaving death threats on the phones of politicians, judges, and their families; anonymous University of Washington students publishing false accusations of rape; and some wicked soul mailing the poison ricin to government officials.

Only a quarter of a century ago this ongoing malevolence would have shocked most Americans. Sure, conservatives and liberals debated each other, but those disagreements resemble a dialogue in Plato’s Academy compared to the scream-fests of 2018.

 So, I identified five possible reasons for this devolution in civility.

Twenty-five years ago, the Internet and cell phones were in their infancy. Twitter was a noise made by sparrows in the yard. These devices are wonderful but allow every bozo with an opinion—including myself—to shoot that opinion into cyberspace instantaneously and often anonymously. From school bullying to Supreme Court nominations, our technology gives us the power to destroy a fellow human being with threats and insults.

Remember when many people, liberals and conservatives alike, poked fun at political correctness on campus? It stopped being funny a while ago. PC remains rampant in our educational institutions, but now graduates of the liberal universities that popularized trigger warnings have injected PC into the world of business and government. In our public universities, we have long tolerated professors calling for radical changes to American society. The former students of these professors are now agents of this transformation sitting in boardrooms and on government committees.

Google “Americans ignorant about history.” Magazines as different as The AtlanticAmerican Heritage, and National Review feature articles lamenting this lack of knowledge about our past. In 2011, for example, a majority of adults didn’t know that the Constitution was the supreme law of the land. Others can’t identify the Bill of Rights, the Gettysburg Address, or the reason for celebrating Independence Day.

“Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” George Santayana famously remarked. He actually was being optimistic. Instead of repeating history, we may instead descend into a dystopia we never imagined. Fifty years of steering away from courses in basic civics and denigrating American achievements have produced a bumper crop of malice against history.

Many Americans have taken politics for their religion, fanatical as any Reformation Calvinists or Catholics. We make gods of our politicians and demons of our opponents and their leaders. We are on the side of the angels, and they conspire with devils.

“Follow the money” is a journalistic axiom. So, let’s follow some money. Of the 25 richest counties in the United States, 11 are located in the area surrounding DC. The Capitol also hosts administrators and employees of government, think tanks, lobbying groups, and private businesses involved in federal endeavors. Do you think poison becomes less dangerous when it is combined? Of course not. The source of our conflict is not Austin, Boise or Minneapolis, but Washington D.C.

Incivility 2We’ve been in a slowly developing “cold civil war” for about two decades now, but it has a feel to it that suggests it may become a hot civil war with very little encouragement. And that’s bad because the blue religionists just spent the last month gathering verbal stones to exterminate their chosen target. Hillary Clinton is calling for an escalation of hostilities. There’s no reason to suppose the left would hold back if the vitriol increases. They don’t even seem to be intimidated by the knowledge that red America is much better armed than they are. Perhaps because their leaders know that whoever starts shooting first will be the loser … which is what almost always happened in similar situations in history. So is the next step for the blues to start building guillotines so they can lop off the heads of their opponents? It certainly seems like they wouldn’t find that unacceptable any longer.

I can’t offer any grand solutions, but I have one small suggest. Let’s talk and ask each other questions without all the cacophony of the mainstream media and the politicians. Let’s actually listen to one another and calm the heck down so we can find a way lay aside our differences and return to being a country that isn’t on the verse of a civil war..

Posted October 23, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in cultural divide, Uncategorized

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