OPINION — On Aug. 12 Heather Heyer was murdered when a car plowed into a crowd in Charlottsville, Virginia. I consider this not only murder but also domestic terrorism and I am proud to hear the nation’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, describe the event as such and open an investigation into the violent incident.
Ultimately, a court of law will be the legal venue for charges against the alleged actions of James Alex Fields Jr. We can hope that justice is served.
On Monday, St. George News published an opinion piece by local radio personality Bryan Hyde (see ed. note). The title of his contribution – “To the proponents of identity politics, the violence in Virginia is the fruit of your labor” – is just the first of many provocative and misguided allegations leveled in the polemic.
His accusation is directed at a broad group of folks that aren’t united or consistent in strategy. Let’s call his strategy what it is: a straw man manufactured as a fatuous distraction that avoids the nuance it takes to discuss diverse political views.
Reasonable discourse encourages rejection of these types of fallacious arguments because they fail to discuss the realities at hand. Sadly, this type of rhetoric is all too common in our society at the moment and has intensified a flawed binary logic that has pushed citizens into ideological bunkers. Why listen to other viewpoints when we have so easily dismantled a caricature of their ideas? It’s a powerful tool that needs to be called out and countered each and every time.
A line from Hyde’s opening statement is worth quoting in its entirety: “To you, I say congratulations. The weekend’s events in Virginia would seem to indicate that you’re finally getting exactly what you’ve wanted.”
The unsupported allegation that citizens who practice identity politics wanted violence is bolstered with comparisons to “barbarians and savages.” He then ironically states that many citizens will no longer be shoe horned into “labeling others to marginalize them,” that “name-calling has no power over us” and that they “won’t bother playing your ideological games.”
His entire article is an example of the notion he discredits, that citizens like us are confronted with a “false dilemma that tells us that our choices are limited to one of two despicable belief systems that thrive on creating conflict.”
In Hyde’s argument we are either with identity politics or against it, and who wants to align with “barbarians and savages?”
But, in fact, there are a myriad of other political choices that Hyde’s column ignores and they are the ones most people across the wide-ranging political spectrum take every day, including citizens like me who value the discourse about racism, sexism, intersectionality and how they disproportionately affect people. We can disagree about the root causes, their effects on society or how to solve them without succumbing to the “word magic” of marginalizing broad swaths of our society.
Bryan Hyde’s column is a prime example of how pundits and their public discourse are failing our society. It only took days for individuals like him to move past the criminal case against Fields to attack an imaginary group of people united behind the practice of “identity politics.” To solve problems requires nuance and thoughtful investigation that transcends ideology.
Bryan Hyde utterly failed to provide such analysis and curiosity. Bryan Hyde didn’t discuss the white supremacists and white nationalists that attended the “Unite the Right” rally who clearly adhere to and practice extreme definitions of identity. He didn’t discuss the fact that James Alex Fields Jr. was aligned with those views and is alleged to have executed his beliefs with extreme prejudice. That is the topic at hand and Hyde ignored it.
Don’t be distracted by his vague accusations of boogeymen when last Saturday an individual and several organizations made direct threats to civilian life. We have known for centuries, and witnessed last weekend, that these fanatics can and will act on those beliefs.
Educate yourself about this national issue. Get to know the organizations that these individuals willfully join. Get to know the names and lives of our fellow citizens that die from the hands of such prejudice every year. Steel yourself for the reality that these white supremacists and white nationalists are empowered, vocal and politically active. Counter their hate and vitriol at every chance you get.
This is not the time to equivocate and wait. We are challenged to be better citizens at moments like this and I have hope that we can.
Written by PHILLIP RHOADES, Cedar City, Utah.
Ed. note: St. George News columnist Bryan Hyde has been a popular radio personality in Southern Utah for more than 30 years. He is, however, currently not broadcasting but serving as the director of development for Libertas Institute.
Letters to the Editor are not the product or opinion of St. George News and are given only light edit for technical style and formatting. The matters stated and opinions given are the responsibility of the person submitting them.