I’m 66 years old, and as long as I have been a voting adult the nation has been divided. In fact, before I could vote it was divided. In the 1960s we were divided over Vietnam and Civil rights. In the 1970s, Richard Nixon and Watergate divided us.
In the 1980s, we were divided over Reagan’s cuts to social programs although not as divided as in earlier times. In the 1990s, we were divided by holding Bill Clinton’s personal life up for public ridicule. After the turn of the Century, we were divided by the razor-thin election of 2000.
Then, for one brief moment in time, the bombing of the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and crash of a plane in the Pennsylvania countryside united the nation.
It was a short-lived unification. Within a year we were back sniping at one another over two wars, waterboarding, and Islam in America.
Then an African-American was elected President and rather than turning a corner, the old hatred of the 1960s racist America flared like a California wildfire. Racists blamed President Obama for the increase in racism. That’s like blaming a woman for the provocative dress that she was wearing before she was raped.
His liberal politics were grounds for CIVIL disagreement since a CIVIL debate on issues is healthy for our Republic. The debate turned uncivil rapidly. Racists are to this day quick to proclaim, “I’m not a racist, and I dislike his white half just as much.” That is about as racist a comment as one can muster.
His wife was referred to as a “monkey-face” as well as other racial slurs. Memes of Obama popped up representing him in African tribal attire. There were even representations of him being lynched. Those are not his fault. They are the fault of racists who are as backward and ignorant as a human being can be.
Enter Donald Trump who won on a campaign of ethnic and religious hate, xenophobia, and racial stereotypes. He successfully harvested this crop of hate and won the election.
This is the “progress” America has made in my lifetime. While we may have passed the Civil Rights Act, upheld its provisions and strengthened it, little has been done to curb the vile rhetoric in America. The age of social media has given those who practice hate and intolerance a platform to ply their hobby.
Last week, President Obama presented Vice President Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for a lifetime of service to the nation. Vice President Biden deserves the award.
On cue, the vile comments about the Vice President started on social media. I received a message on Facebook from a former colleague of mine from Washington days, when we worked closely together at Hill and Knowlton in Washington, DC.
Lisa-Marie Cashman is one of the best PR mavens around in my book. Like those with good sense, she left Washington and moved home to New England. She now runs The Cashman Group in the Boston Area. If there is anyone who knows the English language and its impact on the masses, it’s Lisa. She is also appalled at the rhetoric in America today.
Lisa is a partisan Republican. However, she was not pleased with the barbs being tossed toward the Vice President when he was honored. She recalls how closely we worked with Biden when he was in the Senate. In spite of being a partisan who is on the other side of Mr. Biden, Lisa said the words that we should all remember. She said to me, “whether you agree with him or not, he served the Nation.”
The measure of a person’s goodness is not their political beliefs, rather how they treat others. Agreeing with me or you is not a measure of a person’s worth at all but hating those who disagree with you is a measure of one’s character. What it says is not good, either.
We should all take Lisa’s example to heart. It’s OK to disagree; only don’t be jerks about it and don’t hate others because of disagreement on issues.
I now see many of my Democratic friends who I love and respect falling into the same behavior as the other side of the aisle. Social media is rife with a meme of Michelle Obama showing her bare arms, juxtaposed with a nude Melania Trump with another nude woman in a sexual pose.
The point of the meme is that conservatives are hypocrites. They were aghast at Michelle Obama showing her arms and silent about Melania Trump in a lesbian posed photo. There is another message the meme conveys too. That message is that Democrats can be just as big of hypocrites as Republicans.
They were horrified by the things that were being said about Mrs. Obama so they retaliate by saying horrific things about Mrs. Trump. That is as wrong as the pettiness surrounding Mrs. Obama.
We need to step back and really think about our behavior. We need to lay off the wives and children of Presidents too. Recently I read disparaging remarks about 10-year-old Barron Trump. There is no excuse for that. Attacking a 10-year-old is just plain wrong.
If we truly are “One Nation under God,” as the Pledge of Allegiance states, isn’t time we started acting like it? I think its past time.
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