Casuality of the culture war
Last week was a watershed week that I think will take months or even years to truly understand the significance of. I know that I am still processing. It started out with an event that I think most of the country had the same reaction too with the public execution of George Floyd and by the end of the week it had devolved into a raging culture war where everyone had retreated into their prospective pre-established political camps. News networks were telling completely different versions of what was going on. On one it was all about a protest to end injustice and demand equal freedoms and on the other it was all about law and order and the need to dominate the battlespace. Neither was fully aware of the other, neither was listening to each other and respective opinions were hardened instead of shared. Each believed in its own set of facts believing the alternative was fake news.
What prevailed in their minds tilted on the details of whether pepper balls were the same thing as tear gas or on whether one wrong was canceled out by another. One saw the protest movement highjacked by criminals resulting in moments of destruction, even terrorism, while the other saw the protests themselves as criminal caused by the unfortunate but justifiable rough treatment of a criminal. These perceptions hardened through-out the week in anger. Millions of Americans took to the streets to protest, reaching rural areas including Garden City, KS and Spencer, Iowa that were sympathetic and peaceful but there were also millions of other Americans who were a silent minority in voices that were privately expressed that were deeply offended by these opinions that they do not share.
Each thinks the other is pathetic. The excesses and extremes drowned out prospects of real communication and I do not think that the country was left in a very good place at the end of the week or start of this one. It seems as though the polarization has reached a breaking point, that has opened wounds that have not been bound so that they can begin to heal. The polarization needs to stop or this great country will be pulled apart by it. Cooler heads need to prevail. Words of good sense and good will ring hallow to the opposing sides.
It will take time to see if seeds of consensus planted can grow or the social discord creates a desert. I do not see anyone with the gravitas and convincing necessary to breakthrough to the other side. What I see is many who are using the discord to benefit the interests of their camp, inflaming it so the temperature will continue to rise in a manner in this culture war that must resemble the preamble to the civil war. We did not get where we are at randomly. There was effort and direction put into it. I fear that this will not end well with a degree of polarization that if not decelerated can rent the country dysfunctional. We hear platitudes about how great the country is and I do not think that we are as vulnerable to any outside threat as we are to ourselves. If the objective is to “dominate the battlespace” and I think today that is the objective of both sides, last week will just be the opening round of hostilities in this culture war. I did not see any easing of the opposing discord. Clergy nor Generals had the impact they intended by interjecting what used to be considered higher opinions into the controversy.
That is one casualty of the culture warno one is considered holy or an uncontroversial authority anymore. My frustration is that I see and am experiencing the death of reason. When you lose that, the bridge is out and it becomes a much harder if not impossible task to cross the river that is dividing us. There is so much noise the truth gets lost in the din, and where there is no truth chaos prevails. I think that the Covid-19 pandemic has increased our vulnerability as whatever perception of normal that we had, it has been disheveled by it. This has opened cracks in the national persona that is allowing the opposite of our better angels to seep in. Mental health has deteriorated under the stress.
This is the kind of situation that history has recorded that can strain public opinion to the point where nations can lose themselves. We have always been convinced that this could never happen to the USA but I am not so sure. I think that we are as vulnerable as we have ever been at this moment in our nation’s history. When opposing sides want to win more than they want peace, peace will not prevail.
This country can do anything if it puts its collective mind to it. There is no collective mind today. There is a culture war that is eating at the countries soul and both sides are reaching a new height of desperation as they battle each other for dominance. This is a battle that we all will lose. This country experienced a confrontation 160 years ago in which it could not resolve its cultural differences and the outcome was literally determined by who “dominated the battle space.” No one knows this country’s military history better than its Generals, which is why they were so repulsed last week from being drug into the political affairs of the nation’s culture war.
I think that their perspective should weigh heavy but that is me. There I tried. Words do not seem to matter to people like they once did. Minds are not open; emotions are raw and whatever consensus appears to be shared is shared only within perspective camps and not with each other. This is where you should end this commentary by saying something like “God Bless America” and he certainly has. I would expect after taking us this far that he has something better in mind for us than our tearing his great works apart. That is what I have to hold onto
.David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.
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