The statement itself wasn’t necessarily a big deal, but a couple of days ago I logged out of Facebook on my laptop and shut off the app on my phone. The reason: politics in this country has become a hate fest and not only on my newsfeed, but also on the comments on the posts I was making.
Politics is second nature to me. I’ve lived in the DC area for over 30 years. I’ve worked on political campaigns from senate to presidential. I’ve worked as a grassroots lobbyist. I’m what best can be called a diehard independent centrist. I don’t think in terms of political party. I don’t follow anyone else’s pre-formulated political philosophy. People on the left call me a “reasonable” conservative; people on the right call me a “reasonable” liberal. While I often try to find the good in people and their politics, today I’m almost solely seeing the bad.
In the past few weeks I’ve made posts that, while not directly calling for unity, at the very least calling for civility in these times. The resulting responses soon turned into a mutual hate fest between left and right. Hateful shit spreading out over several sub-threads. People attacking one another and anyone who’s on the other side of the spectrum. I started getting defriended by people, not because anything I wrote, but because they’re being attacked by others who are filled with hatred. Now I have to repair relationships.
It’s my fault though. I post about politics. I just do. And because I’m in several political discussion groups and because I’m a centrist, I’ve cultivated a ton of people from across the political spectrum over the years. That should be cool. I don’t have, like some who have more polarizing politics, a bevy of like-minded people who agree with everything I say. With that, I used to host some great political discussions.
But the political situation in this country has gotten out of hand. This past week, we had an attempted political assassination in the United States. An act of terrorism. Make no mistake about it. Yes. An assassination attempt. Yes, that’s terrorism. Right in my old neighborhood. For seventeen years I lived near the ball field where US Rep. Steve Scalise and others were shot. It was that very same ballfield that I used to play pick up games. It was next to the YMCA that I taught my son how to swim. Across the street I used to buy groceries.
So right now we’ve got a US Congressman lying in a hospital in critical condition with a bunch of bones broken, a bunch of internal organs torn apart, and a tremendous loss of blood. He’ll likely pull through, but, yeah, he could die. The doctor who performed surgery on Rep. Scalise said that when the Congressman arrived at the hospital, he was “in imminent risk of death”. I don’t give a shit what political party he’s in, how he stands on this issue or that one or if they match mine. He’s a human being. We’ve also got another man — a young man named Matt Mika- also in critical condition. Shot in the chest.
Yes, most were appalled. But soon I saw something that I’ve now come to expect.
Instead of expressing concern about their lives, sympathy for all of those injured, and outrage that it all happened…I kept on seeing some not giving a shit that we had an attempted political assassination because they were more concerned about Rep. Scalise’s voting record. They immediately began to try to put the shooting in “context”…saying it was no doubt definitely wrong, but the anger behind it…was justified. Because of this vote and that stance. Justified. Not the actual shooting — no, we don’t want that, but that anger behind it. Someone may be about to die and, yeah, while his getting shot shouldn’t have happened, the anger behind it was, you know, understandable. If you’re a conservative or a Republican then, a little violence against you could be in order.
That’s what we’ve come to.
This was preceded by many on the right justifying conservative Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte body slamming a “liberal” reporter to the ground because…the reporter asked the candidate a question. Some of those justifying the action position themselves as “values voters”. When the news media then asked some voters on their way to voting if the assault that affected their vote. No, said many. They still liked Gianforte. It was also the reporter’s fault. So, if you’re a liberal or a Democrat, or a member of the press (remember Trump’s attacks on the press), a little violence against you could be in order.
That’s what we’ve come to.
All this a week or two after Kathy Griffin’s gross attempt at being funny…which was followed by her pathetic attempt to position herself as a victim. Then there’s the ongoing attempt to shut down free speech by left wing campus radicals. People getting sprayed with mace in the face for simply wanting to listen to a speaker. Or battles between alt-right types with Antifa types. The murders of two brave souls in Portland by the deranged white supremacist whose politics were revealed to be both alt-left and alt-right at the same time.
Earlier we had the fake news story of “Pizzagate” pedophilia rings passed on by gullible right wing idiots — or willing right-wing idiots — that almost resulted in many deaths because yet another idiot showed up at a pizza place to take things into his own hands.
Before that, Trump rallies became scenes of violence, some of which were started by Trump supporters, some of which was started by left wing agitators brought in secretly by Democratic operatives.
It ain’t really new. For the entire time Obama was in office, I saw dozens of photos of fake lynchings of the president, dozens of portrayals of a wonderful First Lady as a gorilla. America’s leader, an inspiration to about 40 million African Americans. And millions of others. I saw people delighted that Trayvon Martin, a seventeen year old returning from a convenience store, had been killed. I can still see that hatred today.
I keep on seeing people tell me that — take your pick — conservative and Republicans or liberals and Democrats hate America. How they’re fascists.
Little critical thinking, relying on completely biased sources, resisting any information that may contradict what you thing. And by all means, deflect.
If that’s how you think, I don’t respect you. I think you’re an idiot or an asshole. Or both.
Yeah, I know. Blame the other side. Come up with solid examples (all true) while ignore or explain away your side. Blah, blah, blah. Focus on their hatred. How about focus on YOUR hatred or indifference if it doesn’t bother you some who share your politics are more intent on putting all of this in context in a way that partially justifies all this. How about trying to reach out to someone who you may disagree with on issues, but someone that you may find…is a decent human being? Perish the thought that you may find out that someone who you disagree with is human.
I’ll just say it. I think left and right are just as bad right now with their hatred of one another, with their attempts to demonize one another. Everyone is too busy trying to position how much better, much smarter, much more moral, more patriotic your side is and how much worse, less intelligent, less moral, less patriotic, the other side is. Bullshit.
The night of the assassination attempt, my son and I went down to the Mall in DC. We walked from the Lincoln Memorial, past the WWII Memorial and then by the Washington Monument, all the way to the US Capitol. Then all the way back. Six miles. It’s a beautiful walk, seeing those national monuments and memorials and those American flags all lit up, flapping in the night wind.
One of the things I like most about it is that when you go down there, you see people from all over the country. Or from all over the world. Many of them young people. There were a bunch of blond haired, blue eyed kids from the Midwest in their FFA (Future Farmers of America) uniforms. There were African American high school students wearing yellow t-shirts about the immersion program at their MLK High School. Gay couples were walking hand and hand by a group of Christian students visiting form Alabama. Over to an performance stage in another area, there was an group of what I think was Bolivian American students practicing, perfectly synchronized, a cultural dance.
I dunno. That’s my America. That’s why I love this country. Our diversity. There are no American last names.
Pass through the Vietnam Memorial. Two very long panels. It’s not divided with dead left-wingers on one panel and dead right-wingers on the other. Head over to Arlington National Cemetery. There aren’t separate plots for Democrats and Republicans. In the future, we may have to do that.
In the meantime, fight for your values, but check your hatred. Embrace what we have here in America while you’re trying to make it better for future generations. Right now, they’re learning hate is the answer.