Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Boo You

I was reading an article about mass shootings in the United States, and made the mistake of reading some of the comments - one of the first ones was someone pointing out that, in their opinion, the focus on mass shootings carried out by Whites was to divert attention away from the high number of murders committed by Blacks in the United States - because to focus on the crimes of Black people would be "racist."

Not that long ago, I recalled, I'd read another comment on mass shootings - but this time the commentator was alleging that the focus on mass shootings in schools and community centers was designed to take the focus away from the thousand of Black people who die due to violence every year, and to focus on the problems of White people.

I had been directed to the article on mass shootings in the course of an internet "debate" over whether or not stricter gun control measures were needed in the United States, wherein one participant called for "the Left" to "be honest" and simply come out and state that nothing short of a full ban on personal firearms was their goal.

By the same token I have encountered accusations from gun control activists that "the Right" doesn't care about how many people are killed, so long as they can have their own guns.

Donald Trump is able to tell cheering crowds that Mexican immigrants are rejects effectively into exile in the United States and that New Jersey Moslems loudly cheered the destruction of the Twin Towers on September 11th, 2001.

Conversely, I can't count the number of times that Republican voters have been dismissed as "stupid" for following those people who have actually addressed their fears on the national political stage. And those who call them so vociferously defend their tendency to mock and ridicule other, justifying their behavior on the grounds that they're "educating" others.

In the end, it's all noise - but it illustrates an issue that I've come to think plagues the United States - we've become divided into mutually antagonistic factions - we're not fans of each other. Different groups throughout the United States have come see those who disagree with them as unintelligent, credulous or immoral - if not all of the above, and so our conflicts have become personal. And that tends to result in people not wanting to see others succeed - not just in the narrow arena where they have policy disagreements, but in life in general. I don't know how many times I've seen people wish hateful things on those with whom they disagree. And we won't even talk about the American propensity to lob death threats like ping-pong balls.

In the end, it's not enough to simply claim to be patriots, and to want what's best for the nation. We have to start cheering for each other, and want what's best for our neighbors as individuals. I understand that it's a tall order. But it's something that we're going to have to accomplish, if we are to thrive.

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