The United States today appears to be divided between left and right polls. If the news media is to be believed there is no middle ground. I personally believe there is a large middle ground, but they are being beaten into submission by the extremes. What is driving this may be understood using the old adage “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” We have seen this philosophy used countless times, not only in war but politics as well. Many are unaware that one of the reasons the founding fathers put freedom of speech in the constitution was to insure that people with opposing thoughts had the right to express them. This also kept opposing forces from joining together to oppose the government. As long as they could express their beliefs and opinions freely there was no need to join with their enemies. This could be a lesson for some social media groups who impose their “community standards” on their sites giving rise to competition. This was seen in the 2d World War with resistance movements such as the French maquis. The maquis included such groups as the French Communist party and the Young Catholic League. Two sworn enemy who joined together to fight the evil occupation. This did not end well, at the end of the war these groups turned on each other.
How does this reflect in today’s America? A recent example of how far we have fallen is a report from Yale University that around 100 Yale law students: “…disrupted a bipartisan panel on civil liberties by trying to shout down and intimidate the speakers — who had to be escorted out of the building by police, according to reports.
The panel “hosted by the Federalist Society featured Kristen Waggoner, a controversial anti-LGBTQ speaker with the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, and Monica Miller, an associate at the progressive American Humanist Association,” when reminded of Yales policy of free speech and free expression the students could only understand that they had a right to protest and that the panel did not have a right to express their views.
On the other side we have some right-wing extremist in Congress calling the president of Ukraine a thug and saying we should not support him. The congress approved a measure designed to help pressure Russia with eight republicans voting against it, Of the two, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, have repeatedly pushed propaganda that mirrors that of the Putin. Why, because if Biden or the Dems say it, it must be wrong.
We have been subjected to the concept of “Cancel Culture” which both sides use. Also called call out culture, it can be an effective way to pull back the curtain on things that otherwise would be left in the dark. The MeToo movement was a start to correcting the process that had kept survivors of sexual assault from speaking out. It was instrumental in bringing down people like Harvey Weinstein, but then it became a political tool. One of the most famous political uses of this was during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. Kavanaugh, a distinctly conservative jurist, was about to be confirmed as a justice of the Supreme Court. Toward the end of the hearings a professor from Palo Alto CA, Christine Blasey Ford, claimed that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when the two were in High School. The cry rang out that victims must be believed. The problem with this is that there was no proof. Even after Ford named a friend at the party who could confirm the attack. This witness, Leland Ingham Keyser, stated she had no memory of the party and did not know who Kavanaugh was, regardless some of the public accepted Fords claim and would not be dissuaded by the facts. Similarly the public has been told that Trump is the personification of evil and regardless of facts continue to cancel him, with no direct or supportable evidence.
Today we see in the same type of cancel culture attacks on the current Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. To be honest she is much too liberal for my taste, but I cannot find a reason to deny her the nomination. Calls that she was too lenient on child pornographers are a subjective argument. She sentenced within the guidelines, which themselves may be too lenient, but the sentencing was legitimate. Worse are calls of how she defended clients when she was a public defender. While some of her clients may be the scum of the earth, it is a lawyer’s job to provide a defense.
What does this all mean? Are we all becoming extremist or is the way we get our information failing? Information that the public gets has always been skewed by those reporting. A prime example was back when the US and Spain were almost at war. As the story goes William Randolph Hearst, a powerful news paper publisher, sent one of his illustrators, Frederick Remington, to cover the insurrection in Cuba. Remington cabled Hearst that there was no war to which the reply was “You furnish the pictures. I’ll furnish the war.” Today open any news paper or watch any news station and count the times the reporters attack a person or political party rather then just give us the news. Look at how many times you will see FOX News or CNN attacked by rivel networks. There was a time that those of us of a certain age remember watching a news show because of the popularity of the person giving the news, rarely did you have any idea of their political affiliation. Even worse is the proliferation of online sites that don’t even pretend to be news reporters but attempt to play into a certain segment of society while pretending the opinions or “news” they are giving are facts.
What to do? Remember there are no GOOD news sources, suspect story. If it is important to you do your own investigation. Accept that those with opposing views not only have the right to express them but that they may be right. In the end PLEASEThink for yourself.