I have a strange practice for following the news. I dodge right and then left, and bounce back and forth between differing opinions. Lately I feel like I am playing dodgeball while reading the daily news. Dodge right, dodge left, duck and dive: Like playing dodgeball, there’s no place to run for cover without stepping out of the game. This has only gotten worse since the death of George Floyd.
The pen has been compared to the sword as a weapon of mighty power – a sharp tool in the war for ideas. Edward Bulwer-Lytton penned this adage in 1839 describing his belief that ideas are more effective than violence. Today the pen, and its counterparts, the visual and audio media are being used like baseball bats. Words are crude weapons wielding blunt force trauma upon a population that is now responding in like manner. Sometimes it feels like everyone is violently swinging away in order to inflict the greatest amount of injury upon their ideological opposites.
Live by the baseball bat. Die by the baseball bat. That’s where our nation seems to be headed.
Yes, we’ve been here before. In fact, America has seen worse. We’ve survived a civil war. We made it through the turbulent 60s. But, somehow this feels different to me than the 60s, there is little peace and love, and the lines of peaceful protest and violence seem a little less clear. Gangbanging looters, supremacist factions, and violent anarchist instigators appear to be mixing themselves into peacefully protesting crowds, and harassing police and protesters. And then, the police themselves appear to be a mix of concerned peacemakers (like the Miami force who kneeled in front of the crowd and marched with the protesters), and over-zealous weapon-bearers.
The number of biased news media sites makes it difficult to distinguish between truth and fiction, and even when the truth is found, the interpretation of the facts becomes a battleground for ideology.
I have no qualms in saying that I believe the current administration in the White House is the worst example of leadership I have ever seen in a high office. Yet, in saying that, it does not mean that I like what I see from President Trump’s detractors and opponents.
On the right, I see Qanon conspiracy theorists and violent white nationalists intermixed with regular people who refuse to believe anything presented by CNN, NPR, the BBC or any source viewed as left leaning. Clearly, if someone leans left, all they can possibly offer is a pile of lies based upon their hatred of America and Christianity. Obviously they are motivated by the dream of dismantling Capitalism to replace it with Socialism, which is the domain of fascists and dictators.
On the left, I see aggressive Antifa groups espousing violence, and in kneejerk fashion denouncing FOXNews, the Washington Times, the Drudge Report and all right leaning journalism and reporting. It is assumed that their ranks are filled with racists, and fascist elites. The right is the realm of the 1%. They are using their money and power to suppress the masses, and continue their historic domination of minority groups. It is the right that holds the reigns of power through unrestrained Capitalism and selfish ambition.
Both sides see corruption across the aisle, but most people are caught somewhere in between. Yet, even as most people are caught in muddle of an ideological middle, they have leaned far enough to one side to have fallen into the rhetoric of the warring parties. Consequently, there is little talk amidst all the yelling. Is it any wonder that amidst the peaceful protests both sides are swinging bats?
As I continue to read the news, I am wondering where we are headed. I don’t feel good about it, because I see two Americas, and I don’t like either one.