Wherefore the Divisions?

No sooner did Kerry call it quits than everyone was talking about the
divisions
of the nation, pointing to the red-and-blue maps that CNN, FOX, etc.
posted for
our viewing pleasure. Many people were demanding that Bush heal those
divisions.
Before we can even address that, though, where are these divisions and
are they
really that bad? I seem to recall some nasty divisions during Clinton’s
presidency,
for instance. Never mind that states were often won by narrow margins,
and that
many of the red states reelected Democratic
governors, for instance
. Moreover, Massachusetts has a Republican
governor,
for crying out loud!

And I call our attention to an article previously posted on
this blog
, regarding
Ohio voters
. They were hardly the ravening anti-gay, anti-Arab
bigots that the
New York Times op-ed page would have us think they were. They just
weren’t that
hot about Kerry–the relative indifferent strikes me as the very
opposite of the
divisions we are all supposed to fear.

I think there are divisions but they are being exaggerated and distorted
by Hollywood
(thanks Drudge, for this one) and some of the more
hysterical NY Times op-eds
(though this
one by David Brooks
is quite good–it doesn’t hurt that I agree with
him on
most of his points). It has been just over a week since a complicated,
hard-fought
election ended: let’s take a deep, cleansing breath, and look at what
really is
dividing America, and learn about what those things are before we set
about fixing
them.

Comments 9

  1. theomorph wrote:

    Oops. That last sentence should read:

    “Almost none of the atheists I have known have thought it wise, desirable, or even feasible to try and stamp out Christianity”

    Posted 13 Nov 2004 at 12:26 am
  2. Funky Dung wrote:

    Both sides are hurling insults at each other. The Right is pretending the election was a landslide and Bush has a mandate from the people. The lLeft is acting like the election was either a fluke, a fraud, or indicative of the stupidity and bigotry of Middle America. This is the kind of division I’ve been talking about. Have we always been divided? Perhaps. Does that mean it will just go away? I doubt it. Furthermore, I think the extremists have really come out of the woodwork and I don’t know if they’ll go back quietly. We’re not talking about polite difference of opinion here. We’re talking about certain Americans wishing they could cleanse the nation of certain other Americans.

    Posted 12 Nov 2004 at 4:33 am
  3. Jerry Nora wrote:

    Freudian slip? 😉

    Posted 13 Nov 2004 at 3:15 am
  4. Jerry Nora wrote:

    Funky, the majority of America is not like that. The majority of news articles apart from op-eds are not like that. There are always offensive and fanatical people are either end of the spectrum, and the election gave them some new epithets to throw at each other. Outside of academia, I don’t see Armaggedon.

    Posted 12 Nov 2004 at 12:45 pm
  5. Jerry wrote:

    Hmmm…mayhap this nation should be more divided, since Theomorph’s interesting (and disturbing) anecdote would imply a very large, intimidating majority. Or at any rate, encouraging within our communities that mutual respect is an essential trait of America, the alternative being a dictatorship of the masses or a banana republic. (As with Funky, I often see liberals stepping on dissenting voices around the universities, so I’m glad to hear about issues on other fronts to keep my balanced).

    Posted 12 Nov 2004 at 11:31 pm
  6. Funky Dung wrote:

    Thanks for the fascinating anecdote. :) As a Christian, I’m more tuned into the reverse situation, specifically the screeds published by Loony Left columnists (not to be confused with intelligent and open-minded liberals).

    Posted 12 Nov 2004 at 9:25 pm
  7. theomorph wrote:

    Thanks for the link to Brooks’ commentary. I rather like that guy, and enjoyed his presence during the two conventions on the PBS coverage of them. I remember a few years ago when we had his book Bobos in Paradise in the bookstore where I work, and I always wanted to read it but never got around to it.

    Anyway, despite the optimism of Jerry (“I don’t see Armageddon”), I tend to agree with your comment that “We’re talking about certain Americans wishing they could cleanse the nation of certain other Americans.” (Though I wish I had Jerry’s optimism instead.)

    This is entirely anecdotal, but something happened in the city of Fresno last summer (2003) that has remained etched in my memory. These were the days when Michael Newdow’s case was still going and people were getting very uptight. So some folks in Fresno staged a rally to support those two words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Fine, whatever, that’s great. Peaceful assembly, free speech.

    But there were also some quiet protesters holding signs that asked simple (and I think reasonable) questions like “Whose God?” Stuff like that. So what happened? Two things:

    First, some Christian children went and grabbed one of the protester’s signs–took it right out of his hands–and destroyed it by throwing it in a fountain. Their parents then congratulated them for behaving like insolent little jerks.

    Second, one of the speakers (a local county supervisor) indicated that one of the protesters (the local Unitarian Universalist minister–who is not an atheist, I might add) was not welcome in this country, simply because he questions the value of having the words “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance.

    Of course, the fur really flew, with letters to the editor, a public apology, and so on. But to me the really disturbing thing is that while most Christians who spoke out thought the children, their parents, and the supervisor were behaviorally out of line, they still commended their intentions. In other words, there is a quiet, underlying pool of support for this idea that certain people (for instance, atheists, and probably homosexuals, too) have no right to live in this country.

    Sure, these views have never been able to withstand the spotlight of public attention for longer than a few minutes, but they keep popping up and I doubt the increasing power of the “evangelical” Right will do much to put the brakes on that kind of thinking.

    Personally, I feel very much on the defensive as a member of a minority that many Americans would prefer did not exist at all.

    Posted 12 Nov 2004 at 9:01 pm
  8. h2 wrote:

    When you put it that way, it does sound ominous, but I honestly hope the monolith movements don’t ever get to point of this sort of “cultural cleansing.”

    Scary to think that people could let themselves be drawn in such a disturbing direction, especially given the original (and most vital) mandate of this nation’s founding.

    And in a totally different vein, I’m pretty thrilled to be up on the endorsement sidebar — cool.

    Posted 12 Nov 2004 at 6:17 am
  9. theomorph wrote:

    Yeah, I remember when I was still inside Christianity that feeling of being embattled against some secular conspiracy to stamp out Christianity. There was this guy at my church who believed with all his heart and would tell anyone who would listen that a nearby air force base which had been closed in the 80s was being prepared as the site of a concentration camp for Christians. Any day now they were gonna start rounding us up, according to this guy. (Unfortunately, the same guy was also an influential leader of the congregation, but that’s another story.)

    Now that I’ve crossed over and become one of those dreaded atheists I can’t think of much that is more laughable than Christians being rounded up and put in a concentration camp here in California, or anywhere else in the Union. Real, non-theistic atheists are pretty hard to find. Most of the “secularists” that Christians fear, the people with enough power to worry them, are vague theists, or are more anti-religion than they are non-theistic. Almost all of the atheists I have known have thought it wise, desirable, or even feasible to try and stamp out Christianity; the one or two I’ve encountered who think otherwise are not people I care to talk to.

    Posted 13 Nov 2004 at 12:24 am

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *