Un Civil Wars

The War Between the States ended one hundred and fifty two years ago but hostilities continue.  Our divisions are no longer strictly geographical, but it can be argued the roots spring from that most disquieting time when brother fought brother in bloody battle not for home defense or principal but rather for an intolerable economic system  based on the foundation of mans’ inhumanity to man.  We have merely traded musket and cutlasses for nouns, verbs and insults.

The ad hominem attack has become the weapon of choice for the most malevolent among us, with no other arrows in their quiver than prejudice and misinformation. In this digital age their bile can be published to millions by virtue of a flick of their fingers across a key board with nary the approval of an editor or editorial board.

It is easy to blame popular entertainment. But in doing so we must accept what we witness on our TV screens, in movies, music and of course in the video gaming world where our children spend so much of their time, is only a reflection of who we are, what we have become, and what we are becoming. The mass attraction to someone like Donald Trump is nothing new; he is simply a symptom of a diseased body politic, a disease we the people have nurtured through our own bigotry, greed, and dormant curiosity regarding the world around us. Too often legitimate complaints regarding the economy and its impact on our everyday lives are laid to blame at the feet of others who as well are suffering from the effects of bad policies by the people we collectively are responsible for electing to office.

American job losses have little do with migrants and more to do with a disdain on the part of some employers to pay the adequate wage necessary for people to support their households. Having cleaner air and water does not have to necessarily result in massive reductions in American jobs if industries like coal and petroleum, as they become less and less relevant in the energy equation, put their massive resources and creativity into their necessary reinvention, instead of moving more plants off shore while manipulating the American tax code for their own benefit.

We have been conditioned not to peek behind the curtain where we might discover the human frailty, greed and incompetence of those flipping the levers of our economy. The promise of The Emerald City is too often in reality switched out for the terrors of Flint, Michigan where instead the water is emerald colored.  In our fear and fury we latch ourselves to the gold toothed smile of whatever well-dressed grifter gets our attention with promises that will eventually be revealed as empty. Unfortunately by the time we have this epiphany the damage is done and we are left to fight among ourselves for the spoils.

The internet has provided ample opportunity for everyday people to voice their opinions and exercise their most basic and cherished of freedoms-speech. Coming as it does however, with little in the way of standards; it has also become a mirror to our ugliest malignancies.

Take a look at this about Barrack Obama:

“Time to rid us of that big eared, anti-American jungle boy hiding in the White House.”

“I can only say FU&K obama his executive orders. and his muslim agenda.”

 “Of course he’s a liar. Would Americans have knowingly elected a gay, moslem for president. I hope this post doesn’t butthurt liberals too much. But then masochism is part of the liberal agenda.”

 Or this on gays:

“I Hope it was worth it because like Sodom and Gomorrah, whose sin was also homosexual in practice, they will smell sulfur soon”

 “Elephant in the room alert; Goodfriend the fake man in this fake “marriage”. One second after her death (which will happen soon enough -cancer) will face a real God who is not swayed by popular opinion.”

 Or this on immigrants:

 “Mexicans/Latinos have taken over and destroyed most cities in this country. I’ve honestly have never seen a Latino woman without at least 3 kids in tow, and usually more. They are a virus that must be eradicated. It’s coming, trust me.”

 “Send them home, most are not vaccinated, they bring gangs and drugs, and weapons to our streets.”

 And this on Hillary Rodham Clinton:

“Hillary lost because she is Hillary. A lying, unlikeable, vile, arrogant, nurse Ratchet.”

“I wish she would just go crawl under a rock somewhere until she dies.”

And that’s the nicer stuff.  I claim no credit for the misspellings and damaged syntax. I give full credit for that to the authors of these gems.

It’s not like people on the left are exempt from this type of behavior. Indeed some of the things written on comment boards about the new president are much less than complimentary. And from time to time absolutely vile. But I have lived now through twelve presidents and I have never seen such incivility coming directly from the Oval Office. The bar has been set so low that what has followed should be of no surprise to the president. After all he is the one who set this bar.  People will always defend themselves and it is not anyone else’s fault that when it comes to truly witty repartee the president is often, to paraphrase Sean Connery in The Untouchables, bringing a knife to a gun fight. Often a putty knife at that. He sure can be shocking but he is rarely clever.  Too often, in comic terms, he is Moe Howard of The Three Stooges to his opponents’ Groucho Marx. There is a certain sophomoric thrill to the random poke in the eyes but it is not as memorable as a well-placed Groucho-ism .  Nor is it as adult.

When the place holder of the highest office in the land, who purports to represent all Americans, stoops to referring to a sitting member of our national legislative body as Pocahontas, he is not only disrespecting the person and the office of a United States  Senator he is also insulting his own citizens. Native Americans have served this country, despite their own mistreatment, with valor and honor throughout our numerous wars. The president should take a moment to look up the records of the eight Native American soldiers who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Perhaps while he is doing that he could read about Ira Hamilton Hayes and his part in the raising of the flag at Iwo  Jima during WWII and the difficulties of his life afterward, likely due to PTSD and alcoholism, an all too common affliction in native communities. Now that he is done patting his buddy Robert Kraft and his New England Patriots on the back, perhaps he can take a moment to acknowledge the achievements of someone who very well might be the greatest athlete this country has ever produced-Jim Thorpe.

A sense of humor is more needed than ever in these times.  But humor is best served with a few ounces of truth and there is nothing funny or truthful about the above quotes. Name calling is only a tactic used to camouflage incompetence and a lack of true creativity.  It appeals only to the like minded in their bigotry and ignorance. When the school yard heckles are led by The President of the United States the dignity of an entire nation is compromised.

As another president once said of the office, “if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen”.

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