Is there a civil war in the USA?
Most people’s initial response is probably a firm “No.” We all tend to think of civil war as it was way back in 1861- 1865. The pro-slavery Democratic South vs. the anti-slavery Republican North headed by the great President Abraham Lincoln.
I’m over simplifying, to be sure. And thankfully, we came together after much hardship and many, many deaths (it’s often forgotten that 750,000 people died in the civil war—more casualties than in WW1 and WW2 combined).
But nevertheless, I believe we are in a civil war today. This time, it is between left and right. But it’s not limited to America this time—it’s happening also throughout the Western world.
The divide is between globalism and nationalism, progressives and conservatives, big government and small government, pro-life and pro-choice, those in favor of open borders and those who want restricted, legal immigration.
Dennis Prager agrees. As he wrote on his website: “Americans are more divided morally, ideologically and politically today than they were during the Civil War. Unity was possible between the right and liberals, but not between the right and the left.”
He continued: “Like the left in every other country, the left in America essentially sees America as a racist, xenophobic, colonialist, imperialist, warmongering, money-worshipping, moronically religious nation. Without any important value held in common, how can there be unity between left and non-left? There will be unity only when the left vanquishes the right or the right vanquishes the left. Using the First Civil War analogy, American unity was achieved only after the South was vanquished and slavery was abolished.”
Prager’s views may sound all ‘doom and gloom’, but I believe he is sadly accurate. One only has to look at discussions with those on the other side of the political fence—especially exemplified on social media—to see this to be the case.
Many of us have been indoctrinated and polarized into these camps of left and right. The vehemence of hate and intolerance for the other side has always existed but it has been amped up from the George W. Bush era and beyond. Trump’s win seems to be the zenith of this phenomenon and we are functioning at a fever pitch.
Here are a few tweets/facebook postings from both sides of the fence. (I will not post their names or link to them since I don’t want to add to or promote the violence towards any of these people.)
“I wonder what’s wrong with America and then I see tweets like this…can we round all the trump supporters up and shoot them on site (sp)?”
“I can’t believe these liberals are attacking conservatives at their protests. Anyway we should shoot all liberals in the head.”
“It’s fine to kill your darlings if your darlings are Trump supporters.”
“I officially declare war on Northern California and all their liberal army. ROE = shoot liberals on sight”
“Rallies and demonstrations are pretty much futile, since the lunatics just laugh at us knowing we haven’t the guts to stand up and take the actions needed. Writing and complaining falls on deaf ears. Not until the first shot is fired will the recovery begin.”
“All Trump supporters need 2B armed from now on-If U R attacked-SHOOT TO KILL! “
The above selection of comments is taken from the “regular public” on the internet but this kind of talk also reverberates among more reputable sources.
Given recent protests, especially the riot at University of California at Berkeley, and from my own personal experiences as an actress and writer in Hollywood, it seems the so-called anti-Trump “resistance” is growing and amassing. Tragically it seems such violence may only grow worse.
I understand why people are so upset. But the bigger question is how do we find a way forward without violence? How do we come to an understanding and find the real truth, however uncomfortable for either side, and a way forward to prevent another Civil War?
Fake news is rife but so is inciting hatred towards a dissenting view. Are we learning nothing from what has been happening? We cannot, through ego and self-righteousness, continue to shut down conversations and further fill ourselves with hate for the other side.
If truth is what we seek, then we have to recognize that our own preconditioned beliefs often get in the way of our being able to view what is happening fairly. A classic example of how we perceive news is the “Basketball Awareness Test”.
It shows how we see only what we want to see. Although we can’t get rid of our preconceptions, we should be aware that we have them and that they might mislead us. That self-awareness is also something that the news media in particular should start embracing if we are all going to move away from our current confrontational state.
Journalists need to hold off on the combative adjectives that reveal their personal agenda and report the news without allowing their own bias to infiltrate. Report facts of the actual story. Do extensive research. Be responsible. Go to the source. The more they run unproven articles simply because it suits their prejudices or because it sounds like the kind of thing they expect the other side to do (the “fake but accurate” excuse), the more trust is lost on both sides.
Journalists and news organizations also shouldn’t ignore or bury stories that don’t fit their narrative. Hiding the truth is just as bad as lying. If important facts or stories are hidden from the public, then mistrust grows and the ideal of reaching common ground becomes that much harder to attain.
And, with all I’ve just said about journalists? Well that applies to each one of us, too.
Yes, truth can be scary. Truth can be uncomfortable. But truth—not opinion—is what can help bring us together. It’s truth that can move us forward to a more peaceful, happier and productive society.