I thought I’d try a few things with this web page and I’ve uploaded a slightly modified new look. Moving the sidebar over to the left did not seem to be popular, so I moved it back. The compressed title and the flop-over photograph remain, however, with a new photograph by Transit Toronto’s David Cavlovic.
Thoughts, comments and suggestions on the new design would be much appreciated.
Both Sides Now
Thesis: “Would it not be healthier to admit, at this time, the truth: that Democrat and Republican (liberal and conservative, left wing and right; take your pick) supporters are human beings with much in common, whose differences have been blown out of all proportion? That both their leaderships have engaged in dirty tricks and blatant propaganda? And maybe if we made more of a concerted effort to tone down the rhetoric, November 2nd would be a lot less stressful? Or is your hatred of Democrats(/Republican/liberal/conservative) and Democrat(etc) supporters going to remain at Red Sox levels?”
From James DiBenedetto:
“I’m sorry, but I have to disagree. I read both conservative and liberal sites, and while there are certainly conservative sites that are shrill and angry, the liberal side of the blogosphere is much, much nastier.
“And the same is true in the national conversation. We’ve got Democratic supporters talking about Hitler, and death camps, and praying for the death of the President, and on and on and on. The rhetoric is much uglier on that side.
“And I can personally attest to this. I’ve got a couple of very close people in my life who are extremely liberal. Whenever politics comes up, they almost immediately begin yelling, and very often end up with personal insults about my ignorance, or my support of a monstrous, evil war criminal. And I do not respond in kind.”
From Robert McLelland:
“There isn’t going to be any lessening of hostilities until people like Ann Coulter, who preach every day about how evil liberalism is, are given the big smackdown by those on the right. It’s simply naive to ask one side to be reconciliatory when the other is trying to completely destroy their entire ideology.
“This has to come from the right because they are the ones who have gone over the top. The left simply does not attack conservatism like the right attacks liberalism. Though, that is beginning to change as the left begins to adopt the same tactics the right has been using for the last two decades.”
From Hog on Ice
“I’m not all that optimistic. I know Red Staters will show their grit by spitting in bin Laden’s face tomorrow. But Blue Staters will cower. Let’s face it. New Yorkers and Californians and folks from Illinois simply do not have the backbone to stand up to this murderer. Faced with violence, they will hand over their lunch money every time.”
From The People’s Republic of Seabrook:
“Yes, you can call me bitter, though I imagine that my perspective will change somewhat over the next few days or weeks. I do find it rather comical, though, that Bush is now pledging to reach out to Democrats. If he couldn’t be bothered to do it over his first four years, how can we be expected to believe now that he has seen the blinding white light of bipartisanship? With both houses of Congress firmly in Republican control, how can we reasonably expect anything but a return to the far-Right agenda and the slash-and-burn Conservatism that were the hallmarks of Bush’s first four years?
The answer, of course, is that there is no incentive for Bush and his Right-wing cabal to reach to anyone that doesn’t share their judgemental, narrow-minded, self-centered political viewpoint. They have everything a collection of self-absorbed ideologues could ever want: a clear agenda to force on Americans, and a clear path ahead of them with which to do it. Republicans must feel like kids on Christmas morning.
Not much separates us from each other. We are all, at once, brilliant and egotistical, narrow-minded and compassionate. We are eager to point out the flaws of others, while being blind to our own faults. This post of mine is even proof of that in myself. A lot of us think terrible things about those who oppose us, regardless of whether or not we’re opposed by somebody with a serious thirst for vengeance and a gun, or somebody with a difference of opinion and a raised voice.
There are sensible people among us who know that the flames are coming equally from both sides. See Feithy’s sage comment from yesterday:
I’m scared to sit down across from the average conservative that has commented on my blog (the one at xanga) because they attack with venom and the Bible. Not reason - the Bible. I just want to slink away and keep my opinion to myself when faced with that kind of vitriol, you know?
Unfortunately, the reasonable, rational Bush voters seem as hesitant as I am because there are liberals who come at them with as much vitriol. The nice guys are too scared and too tired of the crap to risk it, I think.
Contradict somebody, and you’re going to get somebody mad. That’s understandible. But if you respond to hatred with hatred, you lose. You’ve agreed to fight the fight on their terms, not your own.
This isn’t about giving up and silencing yourself. You have, in your possession, the facts as you see them. Defend them. Keep on defending them. If rational people find flaws in your facts, fix the flaws, or alter your viewpoint slightly to reflect the facts. But keep talking rationally, calmly, and with the assumption that the people you are talking to are rational, even if the people you’re talking to react badly when presented with logic they can’t refute. You may have to ban people from commenting on your blog but, everybody deserves your respect, especially those who challenge your faith in the good of the human race, because it is that faith in the good of the human race and resolve to bring that good about that makes the human race good.
It won’t be easy when people start screaming at you, but refrain from shouting back. Refrain from thinking less of them. Changing people’s minds takes courage and patience. Sometimes it even takes a willingness to die. But it doesn’t take volume, it doesn’t take disparaging your opponents and their arguments as worthless. It takes persistence.
People didn’t end slavery by shouting about it. They marched. Where necessary, they fought. But, ultimately, they won because they changed people’s minds.