Inspection- Hyper Partisan Agents of Our Own Demise
These days I have more leeway writing Inspection. Less deadline focused, for various reasons, I have so many I probably will never submit. Like the edition I had planned for this week. Yes, this has a lot to do with politics and social discourse today, but I will also keep it far less partisan because I think it’s an observation people of all persuasions might consider.
Otherwise I’m just preaching to an out of tune choir, as I admit sometimes I do far too much. When one can’t see beyond one’s own perspective what we often get is useless horrific dissonance. I understand I might change no minds, just give some folks something to think about. I.m OK with that: sometimes I think those columns might be my best.
The title of the column was The Dangers of Hyper Partisanism. It eventually changed so much I changed that title to something else.
On Facebook recently I commented on a meme a friend posted. My comment had to do with phrasing: it didn’t say what the poster was claiming it said. Really, IMO: a defective meme. There was an immediate onslaught of how I hated the pledge (“pledge” wasn’t in the text), hated our anthem when I was commenting about why some people would like a different song because it’s difficult to sing. Instead the topic was turned to whether Pelosi, Schumer (etc) were traitors, socialists… (and again “etc.”) All from a simple comment about how the meme didn’t say what the poster claimed it did.
I was reminded of a line from Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by one of my favorite poets: T.S. Elliot…
”That is not what I meant, not what I meant at all.”
So that night I continued editing what had been The Dangers of Hyper Partisanism and realized I had edited what was supposed to be a warning about hyper partisanship into little more than a partisan rant. The unpublished column had turned into a prime example of what I had been warning my readers about.
A quick sidebar: since this revelation started from a meme, isn’t the content of any meme at least a little “inadequate” since they boil complex, multilayered, issues and motives down to simpleton-like simplicity? Anywhosie…
During the rewrite I took the too easy path: speculating about who was mostly to blame for the situation. By the time I was almost ready for publication I might as well have just copied and pasted my critic’s comments with a change of a few nouns and such to reflect my own perspective. I submit that’s a big part of what’s so wrong with political and social discourse these days. I have noticed over the years that the radicalization and the “whatever it takes”-ism of one side does little more than push the other to behave more extreme. I am referring to BEHAVIOR here, not what is more left, more right. One can be either without being in the face of those we disagree with. And such radical pendulums swinging one way usually swing the other side the other way. Those in the middle eventually have one option: shut up and duck.
Again: we are talking tactics, rhetoric, how pushy we are, how unwilling to have a civil, respectful, discussions: not beliefs.
Is this a good formula for a free society? No, but it’s perfect for totalitarianism, dictatorship: some of the worst governance humanity has to offer. I doubt rarely, if ever, it has any overall good result. Maybe the trains will run on time, but I’d rather they run late and not have extermination camps for undesirables. Sometimes nothing runs all that well and critics are ‘disappeared,’ poisoned, other nations attacked digitally trying to push them into becoming more like a dictatorial oligarchy.
I fear this is where we are headed due to The Dangers of Hyper Partisanism. Those we disagree with become demons, pure evil, less than human, always plotting against us. So the solution (?) is to be more like them? Think about it: whenever we write about how everything is the fault of any one side what are we achieving? When we insult them, lecture them, are we going to change them? Highly unlikely. More likely we simply push them into doing the same. Eventually it simply becomes a nasty rhetorical war of the kind inevitably becomes hot, and eventually the ‘solution’ is whichever side gets the upper hand heads towards atrocities: imprisoning them, torture, going to other countries and assassinating the critics, poisoning.
Here’s the irony: that ‘solves’ nothing. In Charlottesville a portion of that group were Nazis. But, wait, didn’t war solve that? Apparently not. To bring it down to less extreme circumstances: every election where one side overwhelmingly wins over another it is predicted the left is dead, the right is dead, but phoenix-like they always rise again: often stronger and more virulent. The Jews thrive and have their own nation. Capitalism is still here. Sometimes it takes a while for whatever we blame to rise again, but rise it does. And when they fail often they simply adopt whatever they have to to survive but continue on with what was most offensive practices.
I often liken it to that one kid in a classroom who, if they were to go away, everything would be rainbows, ice cream and cake. But it’s never that way. Everything is never ice cream, rainbows and cake, and often classmates just turn on each other. C
After all, what is really problematic about the most ideologies is not that they’re different: no matter how strange or awful they may be, but their solutions to those who offend them.
Which brings us right back to where hyper partisan-ism takes us: exterminating whatever freedoms we claim to cherish, except for those who are determined to be politically correct. And as time passes “politically correct” becomes more and more narrowly defined; so if you think you’re safe you probably aren’t, like Hitler turned on the Brownshirts, Stalin followers of Lenin, Khrushchev followers of Stalin… and on it goes. Hyper partisanship eventually turns us all into agents of our own demise.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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