On the EDge: Forget ISIS, there’s a culture war that threatens the U.S. more

OPINION — You can worry about ISIS all you want. You can build an impenetrable wall all the way around the United States to keep whatever group you care to discriminate against out. You can fund all the ridiculous defense programs you wish.

But, none of those measures will do a thing to stop the most dangerous confrontation the United States is engaged in at the moment: the culture war that is raging within the nation’s borders.

As treacherous as this ISIS bunch may seem, it does not stand a snowball’s chance of toppling the United States.

While it could disrupt things with threats and sporadic outbursts of violence, it is, in reality, not a force capable of endangering the essence of the United States.

Evil? Yes.

Murderous? Of course.

But, the U.S. can endure through anything ISIS could throw at it.

This cultural war, however, poses a serious threat, much amplified over issues of cultural ignorance we have already endured.

New York Post cover, Dec. 3, 2015
New York Post cover, Dec. 3, 2015, St. George News

We have grown evermore separatist, less embracing or tolerant of our many differences and the palette of diversity that is the core of the United States.

As a result, the United States is more culturally split than it was during the Civil War.

Don’t think so?

Look back at the social media platforms and really read some of the posts since the shootings in San Bernardino, California. Search the Internet and look at the wild, irresponsible reporting and dangerous opinions being spewed by legitimate and niche-driven media outlets.

Dare to seek the truth. Look beyond the propaganda we are being bombarded with as we collectively gather to bury our dead who are gone for no good reason.

While technically the San Bernardino shootings may be considered an act of terrorism, the reality is these were a couple of ISIS sympathizers, guerilla wannabes, a couple of psychos who were armed to the teeth and working independently. Even ISIS leaders, who are eager to claim any attack against the U.S. as theirs, have said the two killers were nothing more than “supporters” of the cause.

The husband and wife who killed 14 and injured 21 others in San Bernardino succeeded, of course, in taking innocent lives.

Tweet by Senator Lindsey Graham, Dec. 7, 2015, St. George News
Tweet by Sen. Lindsey Graham, Dec. 7, 2015, St. George News

But, they also succeeded in widening the gaps between us.

In the immediate aftermath of this tragedy, what happened?

We started pointing fingers.

It was the fault of liberals. It was the fault of conservatives. It was the fault of Muslims. It was the fault of Christians. It was blamed on ISIS, al-Qaeda, the NRA, the president and, indirectly, you and me, because why not?

Instead of looking for the real reasons, reasonable solutions or, for the love of all that is precious to us, mourning the dead and the injured, we took to name calling and placing blame.

This is nothing new.

Look at how vicious and ugly the sides have become in this fledgling presidential race. There’s no real debate, no discussion, just anger.

Anger leads to divisiveness, divisiveness leads to separation, separation leads to collapse.

Societally, this is a dangerous path.

We have seen that, of course, with obstructionism that has been the payback of a political party that is so staunch in its opposition to the sitting president that it is willing to risk the nation’s security, economic stability and world standing to recapture the White House.

Tweet by Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Dec. 2, 2015
Tweet by Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., Dec. 2, 2015, St. George News

We see it on the other side with a gutless roster of elected officials who are more concerned with preserving their jobs than engaging in statesmanship to find the right path.

And, we see it in the special interest groups that pour money into a Congress that promises to fulfill the needs of Corporate America rather than those of the citizens who depend on the government for security, order and the nonexistent concept of leadership.

More importantly, however, we have become an embittered nation where it has become easier to give in to anger, easier to lay blame on somebody because of their color or religion, easier to hide lazily behind a political ideology rather than explore or study possible alternatives.

This doesn’t mean we should water down our beliefs and wallow in the muck of compromise, where nobody wins. We need hard and passionate discussion, but discussion without rancor. Then, an absolution of differences and a unified stand behind the prevailing decision, rather than continued bickering and chipping away at the other side.

In his final public speech, Patrick Henry said: “United we stand, divided we fall. Let us not split into factions which must destroy that union upon which our existence hangs.”

The concept of unity, by the way, was not new to Henry or that era.

Aesop wrote of the dangers of a house divided in his fable “The Four Oxen and The Lion” and Mark 3:25, in the New Testament, states: “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

So the concept is nothing new. It’s the practice that seems to have escaped us.

In the past, the United States was able to overcome the differences, to persevere in the interest of a nation with resolve, purpose, a desire to seek a harmonious resolution to its differences. Now that resolve, purpose and desire is aimed at maligning the opposition, leaving scars on its soul, dismembering the various ideologies that once were the essential fabric of a democratic nation that, even after its most tenacious debates, was able to find itself and come together despite its differences.

It’s not all Obama’s fault, it’s not all Bush’s fault, nor Clinton’s, Reagan’s or anybody else you can dredge up as a scapegoat for the things that have impacted our nation negatively.

It is ours for not making it work, for not taking the precepts of a constantly evolving, freedom-loving nation and applying them instead of drawing lines in the sand that are impossible to erase.

And that will do more to harm to the United States than all of the forces of ISIS, al-Qaeda and the others who would challenge our way of life, put together.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • BIG GUY December 8, 2015 at 7:28 am

    I agree with Ed’s general intent. I could do without the several places where his liberal viewpoint spills out with partisan words.

    “E pluribus Unum” appears on our coins and is an ideal for which we all should strive. And if you’ll allow me to counter with my own partisan words, that is why I take issue with so-called “diversity advocates” whose purpose is to divide, not unite.

  • Brian December 8, 2015 at 7:49 am

    I agree with the sentiment of this article, but disagree with many of the points / statements. In 1997 radical islamists created a plan to reach their goals by 2020. The 6 phase plan has a range of years attached to each phase. The 5th phase was to light the middle east on fire and destabilize Europe through immigration. Sound familiar? It was supposed to go from 2010 to 2015, so it got a late start with the arab spring in 2011 (triggered Dec 18, 2010), but finished right on time. The 6th phase is called “Open Confrontation” and involves the gloves and masks coming off and a full, open assault on the US and Israel (in short, everything happening in the middle east happening here: beheadings, IED’s, suicide bombers, infrastructure attacks, etc). Yet Ed spends the first 25% of the article downplaying any impact they could have on the US. I disagree entirely. We are incredibly vulnerable. It would take very little to cripple our gas and oil supply lines, our transportation, our energy grid, or our economy. And yet the president is trying to bring 100,000+ Syrian refugees in, and only 0.4% of them are Christian (even though there are millions of Christians fleeing oppression and cleansing over there). He refuses to seal up our border, even though we know islamic extremists are coming across. And when we do have a terrorist attack on our own soil, he uses it again to push an anti-gun agenda. I completely agree that the fault is ours, however. Ours (collectively) for blindly following our “leaders” instead of being informed and having our own opinions, ours for putting on blinders to glaring facts and instead drinking in rhetoric, ours for allowing a clearly biased media to shape our views and our votes, ours for turning our backs on the principles that made us great. It takes a solid foundation of knowledge, wisdom, and perspective to break free of this. Unfortunately such a foundation is entirely absent in America, and we’ll pay a heavy price for it.

    • Rainbow Dash December 8, 2015 at 11:03 am

      I see a lot of statements but no sources. Care to provide a few to back up what you’ve said?

        • Rainbow Dash December 8, 2015 at 7:26 pm

          No you rpovided your sources and I’m glad you did. However I would like to point out that you said ” I completely agree that the fault is ours, however. … , ours for allowing a clearly biased media to shape our views and our votes”. You say that we should veer away from “clearly biased media” because it is bad for us, which I agree with you on that, but then you post 2 openly right wing biased websites as your sources. I guess what Im asking is, does your definition of “clearly biased media” apply to to those sites too or is it strictly limited to those sources that aren’t openly conservative 97% of the time?

          • Brian December 9, 2015 at 9:55 am

            My point exactly: Nearly ZERO left-wing media sources are reporting on those things, because they don’t fit their agenda. Both facts (236 Muslims to 1 Christian and Obama wanting 100,000 more Syrian refugees, which statistically speaking would be 99,600 more Muslims) are verifiable from original sources, but the media has an agenda. What they AREN’T talking about speaks to their agenda way more than what they are talking about. So yes, of course I’m quoting source are “right wing”, because they’re the only ones talking about it!

          • Rainbow Dash December 9, 2015 at 1:16 pm

            “Both facts (236 Muslims to 1 Christian and Obama wanting 100,000 more Syrian refugees, which statistically speaking would be 99,600 more Muslims) are verifiable from original sources, but the media has an agenda”.
            you say that statement is “verifiable from original sources” Great. So? Where are the original sources? The only source cited by the writers of the breitbart.com (a openly conservative “news” outlet) article you posted was CNS News (another openly conservative “news” outlet) and it didn’t even provide a link to whatever it was citing. Also, I did a google search for “islamic 6 phase plan cns news” and nothing came up in the first 3 pages. So I ask again, Where is the original source?

      • Chris December 8, 2015 at 8:15 pm

        yes, you did miss something. “He refuses to seal up our border, even though we know islamic extremists are coming across.” No one “refuses to seal the border.” It is impossible to seal, and has never been sealed by any president. In your imagination, some miracle wall will seal it, but you are living in a fantasy world. Provide us with a reliable source that shows Islamic extremists are coming across the border illegally. It just is not happening, and there is zero evidence to support your assertion. What you don’t know, amazingly, is that the southern border is being controlled quite well from the Mexican side by the cartels. Their income depends on it. No one crosses that border without their knowledge. To date, the terrorist acts committed by Islamists in this country have been perpetrated by citizens or by visitors who entered this country legally.

        • Brian December 9, 2015 at 10:00 am

          That’s your border security plan? Let the cartels handle it? Yeah, because no terrorist has ever paid a cartel to transport anything or anyone. The cartels would be more than happy to smuggle terrorists, weapons, nukes, biological agents, whatever for the right price. But the assertion that the cartels know everything going on down there is ludicrous. And Syrians are coming across our southern border: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-syrians-border-20151121-story.html Granted that particular group turned themselves in, but how many didn’t? Who were they? We don’t know because this administration has stopped enforcing the law and neutered our border security.

    • .... December 8, 2015 at 2:23 pm

      I don’t agree with this article or any of the comments and I definitely don’t agree with anything Brian posted

  • Uncle Lenny December 8, 2015 at 8:31 am

    I agree with Ed and with the Big Guy as well. We have become so “PC” that polite discourse is almost impossible. Our fear of offending others and the exclusion of venues with which to allow discourse, including our universities, instills silence, and therefore stifles openness. And by our silence, acceptance of the new norm. It’s a crying shame what we have allowed ourselves to become as a society.

    • Rainbow Dash December 8, 2015 at 11:36 am

      Lenny, Respectfully I have both agree and disagree. Political correctness has nothing to do with stifling polite discourse in my opinion. Words are just that; words. They no more stifle conversations then guns kill people. People stifle conversations and people kill people. Simple as that. Words do not speak themseves and guns don’t pull their own triggers. Instead I believe people simply do not want to listen to the views of others. This is especially true when it comes to politics and religion in this country. In my opinion, it should not matter what someone’s political leanings are. They are, have been and will always be inconsequential in the long run. Politics change. Religions change. In the 1950’s “gay” was another word for “happy”, Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, Ronald Reagan was a Democrat and in 1978 God changed his mind about black people if you believe the Mormons. Politics change. What is conservative today might be considered liberal in ten years. 10 years ago, for example, I could have a polite conversation about politics with someone who disagreed with me; not so today. Just look at some of the other political articles on this site to see how quickly polite discourse becomes a personal attack when someone disagrees with the opinions of another.
      My point here is that we should stop focusing on some political party. Who cares what party someone belongs to, who someone else wants to marry or what church someone attends? Those are small things and unless it affects us, it should be none of our business. We have more important crap to worry about. Like Fracking, like ISIL, Like paying off our Trillion dollar debt, LIKE HOW TO STOP THE MASS SHOOTING EPIDEMIC! The best thing that we can do is WORK TOGETHER but we can’t do that unless we speak with and LISTEN TO to people we disagree with. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

      • Joanie January 15, 2016 at 6:37 pm

        Epic, very well written and nicely said. Thanks for speaking the truth.

  • NotSoFast December 8, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Interesting read Ed. If you could do a follow up sometime in the near further, folks out here would read it. Good copy.
    But truthfully, I’d be more interested in what Big Guy had to say on the subject. Current politicians use the headlines for their own camp to gather funds for their plane fares and back office needs, so they can divide not unite. Sadly, That’s what their expected to do.

  • SSTEED December 8, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Its not a possibility for me to unite myself with a leadership that I know has no regard for me. We saw that with 9-11 when we were lied to and no real investigation was ever done but all the prime suspects knew who it was the day it happened (L Paul Bremer). We saw it in 2008 when our government gave the finger to the all the Americans who lost their homes but took our money to the bankers who already have way more than anyone needs. We have seen it in our media who has relentlessly lied to us about the events of 9-11 and all the wars that were a result of that. We are being spied on, lied to, robbed, and killed by our own government; and you want me to unite. I suggest we need to divide. Each person needs to develop their sense of self and learn discernment and independence. We would be a much stronger nation if we were a nation of self empowered, critically thinking individuals. And P.S. if ISIS was real: Israel would be in serious trouble, but Isis was made in America (and Israel) just like the Mujahideen and Al-Qaeda. There’s good money in being a mercenary and a lot of young Muslims who have no other options.

  • semantics? December 8, 2015 at 11:42 am

    I think the article puts for a good perspective and one all should at least consider. In a country that is founded on free speech there is room for diversity. There is room for discussion that ends with “I may not agree with you, but I don’t hate you either.” Many reminisce about a time where the public was informed about current issues and could speak intelligently about those issues. By that I mean they read and pondered before entering a dialogue and I am afraid that is an art that has been lost or is quickly disappearing. In law school it is taught that the concept of freedom of speech has its roots in the belief that if all views are aired that the truth (with a small “t”) will surface; and further that when solving a problem we need the discussion of opposing views so that the best answer to a question can be discovered. Perhaps we, as a community, can somehow teach and learn to advocate for a civil society and less for any particular agenda. Perhaps when a law is passed we can accept that the process was fair and let our voices be heard by our votes. Perhaps we can have the courtesy to speak with courteous conscientiousness rather than buying into headlines and sound bites. Perhaps, we can see people as individuals rather than objectify them so our conscience is not damaged when making virulent comments. Like grandma said: “Beware of the words you speak, make sure they are soft and sweet, for you never know from day to day which ones you will have to eat.”

  • mesaman December 8, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I don’t agree with Ed. There has been a culture war in the good old US of A since we drove the Native Americans from their tribal grounds. Look back to the 1700’s and then continue on until the present. There has been a war between ideas held by one side and opposition of these ideas from the other side with every generation. You call it culture war, I call it cultural defense, refusal of one side to accept those ideals found to be antagonistic in the other side. You also ought to know that it is virtually impossible to modify the attitudes of a person by argument, offensive statements, and distasteful rhetoric.

    • fun bag December 8, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      no one cares what you have to say M&M. BITE ME!!!

    • .... December 8, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      I don’t agree with mesaman..BITE ME !

  • fun bag December 8, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    ED sounds just like blowbama. “blah balh bla blah, can’t we all just get along blah” NO ED, WE CAN’T ALL JUST GET ALONG. MUSLIM IDEOLOGY BREEDS HATRED AND TERRORISM. END OF STOY. religious extremism, whether it be mormonism or muslimism is always bad news in the end… delusionsial hateful muslims need to stay the heck out!

  • NotSoFast December 8, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    A lot of Judge Roy Beam wannabe’s out there in the yard. They bitch and complain like they really have the answers.
    Reminds me of the stick man who pushed the Affordable Care act thru and supports the Black Lives Matters movement to draw attention away from his own incompetents. Next we’ll hear how global warming and the NRA is the cause of all our problems and our inability to love one another.

  • mrsmith December 8, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    This country was founded on the very principal of escaping religious persecution. Many of the original founders were driven from their homes and given the ultimatum of go to America or die. The reason the revolution was successful is because the people were united in that they would tolerate no more persecution. Fast forward to 2000, the attack on Christianity has reared it’s ugly head again. For nearly 4 millennia, Christians were able to establish a place to call home and thrive on the comforts they provided for themselves. You say we’re dividing ourselves by culture and I say we are uniting ourselves back to what made this country great. What you need to come to terms with is we are not going without a fight. Bring on your anti-gun, politically correct, liberal oozing anti-Christian be happy play nice lala land everybody smoke a dubbi and love one another hippy bull scheta. And I will bring my Colt 45, bible thumping, get the h out of my backyard revival and at the end of the day, when the smoke clears, those left standing will unite and make a country that has a future. As for getting along on the play ground, we already saw how that works and we aren’t moving any further west.

    • wilbur December 8, 2015 at 6:39 pm

      love it. you go girl, and leave the girly-men behind in ‘yer dust!!!

    • Rainbow Dash December 8, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      Attack on Christianity? Really? Tell me then, when was the last time you were arrested for praying publicly? As for your implication that you would kill people simply because they disagreed with you.. I mean…wow… I don’t really know what to say to that except, Do you really think that is what Jesus would do? Honestly?

    • SSTEED December 10, 2015 at 10:28 am

      4 millennia? As I understand it, Christianity started about 2 millennia ago. Do you know something the rest of us don’t?

  • .... December 9, 2015 at 2:42 am


  • ladybugavenger December 10, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    Go Raiders!

  • .... December 10, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    Go Smurfs !

  • Joanie January 15, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    There’s some pretty ignorant comments on this article, but I liked it. I agree pretty much with what Ed’s message is, but I wouldn’t call it a “culture war”, or buy into the connotations of fear behind it. I do believe however, in that which divides us, right from left, is deepening. We become embroiled and emblazened in our beliefs and value system and forget about those of the same in others. It’s important to keep a level-head, and open-mind when talking such things, because politics branch off from philosophy, which underlies everything in our lives. That level of importance deserves respect and empathy. If we are ever to find solutions for all of the issues we collectively face, we must learn from the past, be willing to acknowledge others’ logic and experience, and grow ideologically together. Only when we are able to learn from each other’s wisdom, can we unite in solidarity for our country.

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