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BC’s Tales of the Pacific | How did we get to this point?

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GOVERNMENT officials, law enforcement and the military are preparing for the worst riots in the nation’s history.

Companies are quietly taking steps to restrict access their most sensitive assets in preparation for next week. Yes, from the Pentagon to the local pharmacy, the country anticipates that, given the last six months, society is a few days away from mass chaos and destruction.

Experts agree that it does not really matter who wins the presidential election. If Trump wins, liberals with riot. If Biden wins, conservatives will. How did we get to this point? Has our hatred grown to the point that there is not longer any middle ground? Are we defined by what separates us instead of what binds us? Consider the world we have made for ourselves:

Free Speech is only for those who agree with me: Too often today, when someone says that they want free speech, they mean they want the right to speak their mind. But when someone expresses an alternative viewpoint, those same people are the first to shout them down. Modern college campuses are notorious for this. College used to be a place where students were encouraged to explore differing views, seek new sources of information and opinions. Not anymore. Now, to have a chance to give a speech or deliver the commencement address, a speaker must express the established ideology. As one commentator put it, “College promotes diversity in everything except thought.” It has become less about education and more about indoctrination. Activism and outrage have replaced curiosity and reason. This kind of ‘agree with us or get out’ mentality is one reason why we are at this point.

Identity politics forces us to focus on our differences rather than our similarities: White, Black, man, woman, gay, straight, rich, poor, educated, uneducated. The modern world encourages us to zero in on what makes us different, then obsess over the differences until we can’t stand one another. Psychologists will tell you that the concept of the Other is the root of all warfare in history. We should not be surprised that social and political agendas that stress otherness are training us to despise one another. This kind of ‘look like me or get out’ mentality is another reason why we are at this point.

Everything is political: Because we have surrendered so much power and responsibility to the government, sooner or later every question will find itself in the political sphere. Abortion was a moral decision but not anymore. Climate change was a scientific and environmental issue but not anymore. Covid-19 was a medical crisis but not anymore. Because we have allowed the government to take over our lives, every question must necessarily end up on the desks of politicians, people who have no expertise in subjects about which they are asked to make monumental decisions. It is no wonder, therefore, that people will assign so much meaning to an election. In their minds, the next winner will either confirm what they believe or destroy their world. Riots indeed! This kind of ‘vote like me or get out’ attitude is another reason why we are at this point.

Rhetoric is out of control: Everyone who loves nature is a tree-hugger. Everyone who supports the police is a fascist. This politician is Hitler, that guy is Satan. Good grief. For Pete’s sake, tone down the rhetoric. In debate class, we learned that the person with the weakest argument would resort to the strongest rhetoric. Now something is no longer bad, it is disastrous. Those we used to describe as unattractive are now hideous. We no longer kill people, we blow them away. Liberals are now communists and conservatives are now fascists. I hear people say things like, “That was the best meal ever” or “Best movie ever.” Really? Best ever? Her new hairdo is the worst ever? We now use the language of extremes, so where can we go from here? If that is the worst hairdo ever, what if she comes back with another bad hairdo? If modern liberals are all communists, what will you call the new group that is more radical? This kind of extreme thinking is another reason why we are at this point.

If things turn violent on election day, it will be because of those Other people who are the worst fanatic Hitlers ever. Don’t listen to them, they don’t deserve the same freedom of speech I have. If you are not sure, ask a politician.

BC Cook, PhD lived on Saipan and has taught history for 20 years. He currently resides on the mainland U.S.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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