Between Us

I’m a Troll

lies a painful wedgie!

Last week on Twitter I saw a nice little human-interest video from reporter Homa Bash in Cleveland. During my years in Cleveland, Homa Bash and her co-workers were the funny and light-sided take on the news (except for that Jay Z incident. That one still burns me). The video in question shows parents and kids stepping out of their front doors and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in unison. It was the typical cutesy video that you get from human-interest reporters, whose job is to find good things to break up the depressingly serious side of the news. I’ve seen Homa Bash, and Cam Fontana in Columbus, and Patrick Wright in Greensboro and many, many others do countless stories just like this one. So why do I feel the need to write about it?

Video Read the comments.

If you haven’t been living under a rock (or if you’re my age or older), you know that Twitter is a vast wasteland, where trolls run free and hobbits are in constant danger of annihilation (I’m kinda a hobbit-troll hybrid, but you know that if you’ve ever read my stuff). The trolls came down on this one furiously. This eighteen-second video spawned a firestorm of “racist” and “white nationalist” comments from the left. This kind of stuff happens everyday on both sides of the fence. What is it these Right and Left wing “do-gooders” don’t seem to realize? That the “fence” is miles away from either of their positions. A better analogy, there are two fences, and they are miles apart.

*

Think of the political landscape as a football field. Put the Right fence on the fifteen or twenty yard-line. Put the Left fence on a similar yet opposing yard-line (I’m over here). What you have is sixty or seventy yards between the opposing Wings.

Another analogy might be imagining (my apologies in advance, neighbors!) Canada and Mexico at war and America being caught in the crossfire.

And still another way to think of it is a circular firing squad, with the Right and Left are two halves of the circle.

Now imagine the Left side collapsing and opening fire on each other.

We are cannibalizing ourselves and NOBODY is winning.

*

So, what is fueling this extreme rage on all sides of the landscape? In my ten years of traveling this land, I’ve seen an exponentially increase in hypersensitivity and tribalism. This isn’t hyperbole. I’ve skewed pretty far to the left for a long time, but I could always see what motivated the good on the other side. What I’ve seen is a sharpening of rhetoric that drives us apart. The power brokers at the very top have weaponized some simple wedge issues and used a sledgehammer to drive them home. Normal folks are fatigued by the constant fighting.

“Seize the Guns” vs. “Background Checks” vs “Gun Control”

“Abortions for Everybody” vs. “Access to Women’s Health” vs. “Baby Killing”

“Medicare For All” vs “Affordable Care” vs. “Love My Insurance”

“Common Courtesy” vs. “Freedom of Speech” vs. “War on Christmas” 

“White Nationalism” vs. “It’s okay to love my Country” vs “Patriots”

The list goes on and on. The bottom line, for every staunch defender of a <name your position here> on either side, with most people stuck in between. The last five years or so, we have gone down the path where facts don’t matter. Every opinion is now taken as fact by someone, and the echo chamber gives credence to even the most ludicrous stances.

Is there an easy fix? No, there is not. I can only hope this virus and the aftermath bring us to a new era of civility, a time when we can sit down and have a conversation about something without turning it into a WWE cage match. In one of those, someone can always be counted in to be the heel.

Back to the video. Shortly after it aired, detractors on the left jumped on the video as an insidious plot by a group of suburban parents to indoctrinate their kids into some kind of white nationalist cult. Is that possible? Of course. Is it also possible that the parents wanted to get their bored kids out of the house for sixty seconds? Of course. The answer probably lies somewhere in between. To be honest, Each parent probably had their own motive for being out there at that moment in time. No person is as evil we give them credit for, and very few are a wholesome. We all fall on that sliding scale somewhere in between.

Someone, probably a close friend, is going to take offense to this post. I welcome it. I ain’t perfect. I don’t even play it on television. I’m just trying to be a good dude.

Fu*ck it, a boy must dream, right?

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