Friday, March 26, 2010

A World Gone Crazy

Last night, March 25th, a man was rammed by another car while driving with his daughter down Blair Blvd in west Nashville near Belmont University all because he had an Obama/Biden bumper sticker on his car. A man and his 10 year old daughter could have died because of a bumper sticker and another man's ignorant rage. While random acts of violence have increased because of the new health care reform bill, these acts are nothing new. Other people have been hit in their cars or hate tires slashed and windows broken because of Bush/Cheney or similar bumper stickers. The intensity of the political atmosphere in this country is getting worse and worse and more and more visceral. People have died because of politics. Two years ago a Knoxville man walked into a Unitarian Universalist Church and murdered 6 people. He did this in part because of a book written by Bernard Goldberg called 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America. Since he could not attack those 100 people personally he decided to attack a church that represented what he saw as a "liberal" mindset. This is not an isolated incident perpetrated by a single wacko. Instead, this kind of violence is become more and more prevalent.

I read an Op/ed in the NY Times that stated that

Studies have shown that people tend to seek out information that is consistent with their views; think of liberal fans of MSNBC and conservative devotees of Fox News. Liberals and conservatives also tend to process the information that they receive with a bias toward their pre-existing opinions, accepting claims that are consistent with their point of view and rejecting those that are not. As a result, information that contradicts their prior attitudes or beliefs is often disregarded, especially if those beliefs are strongly held.

I know that I have been biased against Fox News, but it does seem that both Fox News and MSNBC purposefully provide news and commentary that lean right or left respectfully. There is no such thing as "fair and balanced", non-biased reporting. You have to dig through the spin to get the real facts if there are any real facts. A perfect example of this is the health care reform. The reason that people believe that this law will create "death panels" is because Fox News reported it. For some people, Fox News is gospel. The same for some people and MSNBC. We cannot allow our presuppositions and prejudices supersede our generosity and willingness to compromise. Our nation was built on compromise and peaceful debate.

I listen to both liberal and conservative talk radio on my Sirius. One conservative radio host, Mike Church, describes Democrats and liberals as "domestic enemies" of the Constitution and his fellow conservatives as "patriots". The Tea Party people have taken as their symbol the Gadsden flag and now have planned a Second Amendment rally on April 19 they say because of the anniversary of the opening battle of the American Revolutionary War, it also coincides with the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. I am not trying to be a conspiracy theorist, but the Tea Partiers take a revolutionary themed flag as their symbol, they rally with guns on the anniversary of the American Revolutionary War, and they describe those they disagree with as domestic enemies of the United States. This sounds like a recipe for something bad. I hope I'm wrong, but it concerns me.

Now I am all in favor of freedom of speech and I am the first one to say that the First Amendment protects speech we hate as well as that we agree with, but when the people, who are not exactly mentally stable, take these words as marching orders to go and attack the "enemy" like good "patriots" those who speak those words are also culpable. I hear a lot of "well they [the liberals] do it, just look at eco-terrorism and anti-capitalist protesters" from conservatives. My response to that is two wrongs do not make it right. Someone must stand up and say ENOUGH!! The political atmosphere we are now engaged in is not sustainable. More people are going to die if we don't say enough is enough. I am reminded of the words from the greatest American president to hold the office.

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Abraham Lincoln

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