OPINION – In the craziness that is the Cliven Bundy bungle in Bunkerville is an uncivil war that has been raging since the 67-year-old cattleman called in the self-proclaimed militia to face off with federal law enforcement officers.
The residual fallout has been an explosion that has blown wider the chasm between all that is good in this country and those who harbor deep, lingering resentment against a federal government for reasons that, for all their rhetoric, are anything but supportive of the Constitution, freedom, or the good of the people of this nation.
The latest racist salvos from Bundy have done nothing to repair the damage already done and the standoff continues, even if it no longer involves men with guns.
The weapon of choice now is social media, where the heat has been turned up to previously unfathomable degrees. I thought the torrent of hatred that I witnessed during the last presidential campaign was bad. Compared with what is taking place today, the Obama-Romney duel was a stroll through the park.
Normally the domain of creepers, stalkers, and crushers, social media is now a battlefield where supercharged polemics are tearing into the usual fare of cuddly kittens, political sniping, and, as Bruce Springsteen put it, “boring stories of glory days.”
The latest flame-up is nothing but a precursor of what will follow as nobody seems interested in bridge building, which is fine, because sometimes, it’s better to watch the flames in your rear-view mirror rather than to build a rickety, temporary span that is sure to tumble under the force of the next seismic societal event.
The thing is, opinions are like computer keyboards, everybody has them. Unfortunately, many, it seems, are as jumbled as those keyboards and don’t make much sense unless they are put together in a coherent manner, which is also not occurring right now with any kind of frequency. People would not dare to speak to each other face-to-face the way they have been in these social media outlets lately. If they did, I guarantee there would be a lot of folks walking around with shiners.
If you have been aware or participating to any extent in the discourse that has transpired since this whole Bundy thing went public, you know what I mean, and, if you have expressed an opinion of any kind, you have probably seen your Facebook friend numbers go down at least a little bit, which is a natural progression of what I call weeding the garden.
The problem, however, is that this is not really a natural progression where people realize they simply have outgrown each other and go on with their lives. It is a mean, vicious way of ending the conversation, and that is dangerous. To lose that ability to discuss, even if you are on diametrically opposed sides, is to lose reason. The act of aggressive discussion, arguing your point with passion and conviction, is likely to get you ostracized from at least a portion of whatever circles you travel in. I saw it during the last election and see it again now. There is little civility to the debate and those who try to play that hand usually shuffle off into a “can’t we all get along” posture by saying, “well…I don’t like either side,” which is a pathetic attempt at appeasement.
Only, there is no appeasement here, and there won’t be, to be quite honest, because the anger card has not only been played, it’s been slammed onto the table and things have gone so far that no matter what people may say, grudges will come from this sorrowful chapter that has challenged our ideals about country, patriotism, loyalty, and trust in our fellow man and woman that has been shattered now that racism has reared its ugly head in this standoff.
I’ve seen some try to reach out to the other side as this has all played out and those miserable attempts at compromise have been nothing more than miserable attempts, weak and limp. To sprinkle a little fault on Bundy, a little fault on the BLM, a little fault on one side or the other is lame appeasement. This is something that resulted in absolute actions and will not be settled with fence-sitting propositions. There’s no splitting this pot, it’s a winner-take-all hand and, in the end, it will be ugly, but that’s how it is sometimes. Some gotta win, some gotta lose.
We haven’t liked each other in this country for some time now. The great divide occurred when the propaganda of the Reagan Era successfully took the noble word “liberal” and retooled it into a pejorative, usually spat out like bad, bitter wine. Ever since, the two factions have harbored an anger that has grown rather than become tempered, and now that weapons and racism have been cast onto that fire, the anger from the left is rising and, well, we aren’t backing down or accepting that business about how “everybody” is to blame.
Unfortunately, this festering sore has spread far wider than the West, where there has always been a peculiar mindset.
The story of Cliven Bundy has reached the point of national coverage, and people are weighing in at all levels – from major media to social media to interpersonal exchanges – as this story sinks us deeper into the muck and leaving a scar that will not heal.
The argument has been made that Bundy’s racism will now overshadow the larger issue at hand – liberty and personal freedom.
However, there can be no personal liberty or freedom if we remain shackled by racism. Humanity as a whole is greater than partisanship, statism, or nationalism.
And, no matter how this embarrassing chapter of American history ends, there will be few who will push the “Like” button.
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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