There Where Many Sides in Charlottesville


There is a game known as zero-sum total. According to Webster’s this is defined as “a situation in which one person or group can win something only by causing another person or group to lose it.” We see this today in the form of political rhetoric. The President seemed to cause a major political uproar by saying that both sides in Charlottesville, VA could be assigned blame. This went against the grain of those that felt that blame can only be assessed to one side or the other.

Now the Neo-Nazi, White Supremacist, KKK assholes have no place in today’s society. Under zero-sum total then any group who opposes them must be on the side of all that is good. But those groups included violent, race biased organizations that show a great amount of intolerance toward anyone who disagrees in any way to their beliefs. These include the Antifa, BLM and anarchist. So how do we blame both for suborning violence.  

It is easy really, assign blame to anyone or any group that is to blame. This is referred to as non-zero-sum. When zero sum is used when the problem is non-zero-sum a problem arises. This last is known as Zero-sum bias. For more I will direct you to a paper written by Daniel V. Meegan, Department of Psychology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada titled “Zero-sum bias: perceived competition despite unlimited resources,” I will let the reader look it up and read. The problem is that what happened in Charlottesville VA is taken as Zero-sum, the Nazis are evil and therefore wrong. Anyone against them must therefore be in the right. In fact, the activities must be seen as non-zero-sum, the extremes were both wrong and evil but loud to be the only options seen.

What stops us in many cases is another problem called Identity politics, defined as “a tendency for people of a particular religion, race, social background, etc., to form exclusive political alliances, moving away from traditional broad-based party politics.” Much of this today revolves around race, ideology and by extension religion. In identity politics, a person takes a position based on race or ideology and will oppose anyone not of that race or ideology, regardless of facts. The problem with identity politics is that it forces anyone not in your group to be clumped into the “other” group.

No person or organization should be given a pass because of who they oppose. Evil is evil and left or right they should be denounced. The clumping now becomes a problem. While calling out both extremes we find others in the mix of a demonstration. In Charlottesville, the thugs where there to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. There were also those who opposed the removal based on cultural heritage beliefs and others opposed to the destruction or rewriting of history. I was born and raised in NJ and have no affection for Lee or the south having been raised to believe them traitors. But I was also raised with a strong sense of history and that we need to always remember history in order to move forward.  There were also those who truly believed the statues no longer represented Charlottesville and wanted them removed. If we consider the argument to be non-zero-sum then the middle groups should be allowed to come up with a decision that would be a compromise agreed on by all parties. This of course would require us to return to an old political activity known as compromise.    

In the end, we must all look at every aspect of a problem and be prepared to support the group we agree with. We must also be prepared to see neither side as holding our beliefs and values. Before you reach a conclusion based on a personal bias PLEASETHINK that both sides may be wrong. Use Charlottesville as an example where two extremes were wrong and the middle was ignored.    


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