This is my Moonlighting column, published in the October 9 issue of MidWeek.
Serious question: Are we as a country too polarized to hope for a day when we can all—to paraphrase Rodney King—just get along? Are we marked with permanent ink-- either red or blue? Have we lost the ability and the will to make peace? Are we just going to endure battling each other until everyone’s crushed and defeated?
I’m not even talking about physical fisticuffs or any sort of violence, although white supremacist violence IS on the rise.
The battles I’m talking about are in the ways we see each other and communicate. Is it still possible to go to the mat for a point of view you believe in without trying to obliterate the person with whom you disagree?
Here’s why I’m asking—a sample of some emails I’ve received lately:
“You are a victim of group think and political correctness.”
“You’re a racist. Mentioning that you hate white men in your article proves it.”
“You are a helper, and a bed-wench for the white supremacists.”
“Who cares what you think. You are not a mover or shaker. Just an unfair commenter.”
They are folks on the extreme right AND extreme left. And I can safely bet that most public figures—or at least those who delve into politics—receive similar missives of hate, accusations and ignorance quite frequently.
For the record, I’ve never said I “hate white men.”
I’m not a “bed wench for the white supremacists.” (Okay, this did make me laugh out loud)
I’m not sure why a writer lumps belief in science as “political correctness.”
And I can sympathize with the person who doesn’t care what I think. I’m NOT a mover or shaker. Just a columnist.
Folks, I try to answer all my emails and responses to columns, whether the writer agrees with me or not. I enjoy a good conversation.
Where I draw the line is if the person insults, gets personal, or just makes things up. And if they try to push conspiracies, lies and blatantly partisan and unreliable articles, Internet sites and/or videos, I tend to file them away in the “junk” folder.
I blame the Internet. Before the Internet, how often did people insult and verbally attack each other? A lot less, I believe, than they do now, because you had to confront people personally, or over the telephone, or in a letter. Can you imagine telling someone to their face that they are the “bed wench for the white supremacists?”
I can’t either.
I’m not complaining. I’m in the public eye and I write an opinion column. I know people will either agree with me or they’ll disagree—oftentimes vehemently.
But I do mourn the loss of civility in our society. I am afraid that our divisive wounds may become too extreme to heal. I feel the art of listening—really listening—is dying, along with our common sense and the ability to “agree to disagree” when our differences seem insurmountable.
We, collectively, need a healer, stat.