Let's Fix This Country
zeitgeist

What’s Come Over This Country?

With so much to be thankful for, we've chosen animosity

The polarization that has gripped this country is taking a turn for the worse as evidenced by a marked increase in hostility and threats of violence. It is everywhere, in the fights over mask mandates, rebellion
against vaccination, civility cast aside in Washington, and school board meetings that are the new class war battleground. We are at the point where a turn from threats to violence seems likely.

After a speech in Idaho by Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative organization with the mission "to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote freedom", an audience member asked Kirk when "patriots" could begin shooting progressives? Another rose and said,

“At this point, we’re living under corporate and medical fascism. This is tyranny. When do we get to use the guns?"

When the audience applauded, the man went on:

"That’s not a joke…I mean, literally, where’s the line? How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?”

The local state representative, a Republican, later called it a “fair” question. Kirk said first "we must exhaust every single peaceful means" but agreed that “We are living under fascism. We are living under this tyranny."

The Southern Poverty Law Center keeps track of hate groups in the country. Its Intelligence Project identified 566 "extreme antigovernment groups" in 2020, 169 of them militias that arm and train. Those counts are slightly down from 2019, but that degree of anger against the U.S. is ominous and those remarks say that something is likely to break out. Once it does, they will all lock and load and take to the streets, and America will be confronted by its own Taliban. Columnist and former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson makes the point that,

"A significant portion of our political community is turning to the Declaration [of Independence], not for inspiration about human dignity, but for a right to revolution."

Charlottesville, Kenosha, the attack on the Capitol "are becoming the culture war equivalents of the Boston Massacre".

A joint study by the Hoover Institution, the University of Maryland, and Louisiana State University, revealed that 20% of Americans are “quite willing” to use violence against members of the opposing political party, and double that percentage of both Republicans and Democrats thought violence “at least a little bit justified.” The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative, Washington-DC think tank, says 56% of Republicans, 35% of independents, and 22% of Democrats agree with the statement, “The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.”

Republican cancel culture

For years, recognition that the nation's infrastructure is badly in need of repair and upgrade has been the one topic that enjoyed bipartisan support, but when 13 Republicans voted for the bill in the House, the country's needs mattered not at all. The office of Nicole Malliotakis of New York, who voted aye, was bombarded with angry messages calling her a “traitor.” Michigan's Adam Kinzinger was told to slit his wrists and "rot in hell." A caller hoped Nebraska's Don Bacon would slip and fall down a staircase. Police on Long Island, New York, arrested a 64-year-old man for making a death threat against representative Andrew Garbarino. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia said the 13 Republican "traitors locked arms with Nancy Pelosi to pass Joe Biden's communist takeover of America" and tweeted the phone numbers of all 13 to her 356,000 followers to flood the offices of her fellow Congress members with angry calls and death threats.

She got her wish when a caller to Michigan's Fred Upton informed him:

F------ traitor, that's what you are. You're a f------ piece of s--- traitor. I hope you die. I hope everyone in your f------ family dies. You f------ piece of s--- trash mother-----. I voted for dumbass f------ Biden. You're stupider than he is and he can't even complete a f------ sentence. You dumb motherf------ traitor, piece sof s--- motherf------ piece of trash. I hope you f------die. I hope your f------family dies. I hope everyone in your f------staff dies."

Sorry about that, but how can we make our point about the virulent hate that is coursing through America by cloaking it in euphemism. That was just one of a thousand angry and threatening calls, including multiple death threats to Upton and his family, according to his office.

decorum discarded

The social grievances and the anger they engender existed well before Donald Trump threw his hat in the ring in 2015, but Trump effectively gave permission for that anger to become threats and violence. We had a candidate for the presidency of the United States who at his rallies spoke like a thug, spurring chants of "Lock her up" — meaning his opposition candidate — and reacting to protesters in the audience with "I'd like to punch him in the face", "Knock the crap out of him", "Throw him the hell out", "They'd be carried out on a stretcher, folks".

Trump's many breaches of civility made for a new paradigm where it is quite all right with Republicans that their Arizona House member Paul Gosar espouse hate and violence with anime videos of himself stabbing Democratic representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to death and attacking President Biden with swords. Only two Republicans joined the House censure vote. The remaining 207 voted against, to say there's nothing wrong with symbolically murdering fellow members. After the censure vote, Gosar, whose sister calls him an "outward bigot and xenophobe" and thinks he should be expelled from the House, even re-tweeted the videos.

cancelling doctors

The anti-mask and anti-vaccine cohort is not shy of attacking the best of us. The New York Times reported that Dr. Allison Berry weighs whether to take circuitous routes home for fear that those who threaten her find out where she lives. Trained in epidemiology and bio-statistics at Johns Hopkins, she had issued a mask mandate and vaccination requirements for indoor restaurant dining as a health officer in Port Angeles, Washington. For that, one resident wrote online that she should be attacked "on sight". Another suggested bringing back public hangings. "Dr. Berry, we are coming for you" warned a man at a public hearing.

Outside a school board meeting near Nashville, protesters blocked the cars of medical professionals who had spoken in support of masking, yelling threats that “You will never be allowed in public again!” and “We know who you are” and "You can leave freely, but we will find you!”

In a suburb of Knoxville, parents outside a school meeting upbraided Dr. Meredith Duke of Vanderbilt University, who came to urge mask use. "I'm a physician and I'm trying to help our community here. Our hospitals are full and we're asking for help". She's heckled by women on the line. "I have children in grade school that I want to live free and this is all smoke and mirrors. This is tyranny".

The Tennessee Medical Association had to step in, condemning…

"any threats, real or implied, made against physicians or any health care professionals carrying out their duties … The virus is our enemy, not health care workers".

mask and vaccine furor

At this writing the death count in the U.S. from COVID-19 is moving toward 800,000 at the rate of 1,100 dying daily from an increasing fall surge. An uncounted hundreds of thousands have died from their furor at the government telling them what to do,
Citizens of Springfield, Missouri, wore yellow
stars to a city council meeting to say that the oppression
of a mask-wearing resolution equates to the Holocaust.

first refusing to wear masks, then to get vaccinated. To battle an infinitesimal virus, millions wielded their "constitutional rights" to get sick and die.

Siding with them and fanning the flames were a number of Republican governors such as Florida's Ron DeSantis who issued orders against mask mandates in businesses and schools. Particularly concerned for the safety of children, major counties such as Miami-Dade defied the governor's ban, who retaliated with threats of withholding state funds.

Texas' governor Greg Abbot did the same, with school districts across the state — in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio — rebelling.

Nationwide, school board officials have been threatened by an element of the population stridently opposed to school closures in 2020, then against mask-wearing rules for students, and now any mandate that students must be vaccinated.

In Illinois, a man struck a school board official and was arrested. Three parents were arrested in Hilton, New York, for disruptive conduct. A Republican candidate for office in Pennsylvania's Northampton County said he would bring "20 strong men" to the next board meeting to replace board members “with nine parents and we’re going to vote down the mask mandates .?.?. this is how you get stuff done.”

When a school board on the outskirts of Pittsburgh passed a mask mandate, a man in the audience gave a Nazi salute, and someone shouted, “You made Dr.Mengele proud!”. At the other end of the state near Philadelphia, a father in a hazmat suit told the audience at a board meeting that divisive mask mandates are “what Hitler wants.”

In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a protester wearing a T-shirt imprinted with “Not Vaccinated” sprayed lighter fluid on a tray of masks and set it afire proclaiming, “It’s time to pass off this symbol of tyranny!”

virus assist

The rage over vaccination mandates owes much to the outrage manufactured by Fox News. Countering Joe Biden's constant pleading for people to get their shots have been Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham encouraging the opposite. Night after night they told audiences already predisposed by the Fox channel to be distrustful that vaccines could be dangerous, that people make sense by refusing them.

When President Biden tried to increase the vaccinated count by having health care workers and volunteers go door-to-door to persuade the reluctant, Ms. Ingraham said, “This is creepy stuff.” Mr. Carlson told his 2.9 million viewers that Biden's plan was an attempt to “force people to take medicine they don’t want or need” and called the initiative “the greatest scandal in my lifetime, by far.”

The government trying to raise vaccination rates is a violation of civil liberties, is the disruption he spreads. Ms Ingraham tells us,

“Despite everything the experts either got wrong or lied about, they still think that parents should trust them and inject their kids with an experimental drug to prevent a disease almost none of those kids will ever get sick from”.

Over 700 Americans age 18 and younger have died from COVID.

school board tantrums

The year to come will give Republicans a full flask of powder to draw from. Anger over school closings in 2020 and into 2021 was the tinder used to ignite the many school grievances. This year it has been masks. A war over vaccinations is about to begin now that children age 5 and over have been cleared for shots. Millions of parents will have none of it. School boards will insist. And there is the lightning rod subject of critical race theory, with one side insisting that it be expunged from their children's curriculum, the other saying there's nothing to expunge because it is taught nowhere. CRT is its own vast subject.

The Left says there has always been mandatory vaccination to prevent the spread of a host of diseases — rubella, chicken pox, mumps — that unvaccinated kids who may not become ill can nevertheless carry the virus asymptomatically, pass it on to others in class, take it home to grandma. The Right will be wary of the rushed approval for kids and will insist it is their right to decide for their children, the safety of others hindmost. Vaccine vitriol will top the charts.

We will have the likes of an an Ohio school board member received a letter calling him a "filthy traitor" and warning "We are coming after you". Or it will be like Loudoun County in Virginia, a hotbed of dispute in this fall's election for governor, where a school board member reported she had been bombarded by abusive, vulgar, and threatening e-mails and phone calls for eight months, messages such as “You f------ disgusting piece of s---.”, or “YOU ARE A TRAITOR TO THE USA!”, or “A public hanging is in order .?.?. Should only take a few seconds”. She was given nighttime police protection outside her home. She resigned.

A long-serving board member for Virginia Beach Public Schools characterized the conflict to a Washington Post reporter: “They look for issues that are able to divide us, anything they can come up with that is negative, because they are just so angry.” After a raucous meeting, she found a massive screw jammed into her car tire.

There's more, much more, but enough. "60 Minutes" concluded its interview with political commentator Andrew Sullivan saying, "There must be a sort of groundswell of people saying 'Enough of this, enough of this.' The noise. The rage. It's deafening. And we're better than this!".

1 Comment for “What’s Come Over This Country?”

  1. Al R

    This article is so true that about the only program I can still watch is Fareed Zakaria, as he makes an attempt to transcend this hate fest that has taken over our country. Ali Velshi now has two hours Sunday morning, and he does not wallow in hatred of the “other” and has a rare precision of thought and expression. Other than these two, the networks are already at war that takes the place of any kind of dispassionate analysis.

    Two treads follow: The first is the book “The Short History of The Confederate States of America,” by Jefferson Davis (Short is 500 pgs) I happen to have an original but I’m sure copies are available. Davis goes into exquisite detail of the formation of the USA constitution which was not a new country, but an alliance of the 13 sovereign nations. Get the book and dig into Chapter 7, and you will be right where we are now. Actually, past it, as the various houses of Congress and the media are at war. The MEDIA, is each of the two sides allowing each viewer to join the virtual army they choose. We don’t have rifles but we are already at war, where the goal is not to unite but to destroy the enemy.

    Of course anyone can do what I’m thinking about doing, stand up for …….. Sorry, I won’t share it with this particular audience right now. I happen to have some views that are concordant with the enemy, and I’m not going to even state them now. There is a possibility that I may attempt to hold a meeting at a senior community that objectively looks at both sides, meaning restraining from hatred of Trump. While this is an irrational action for me to take, I just might do it in the hope of preventing what Lincoln and Davis could not.

    If this moves any further, I’ll submit it to this website first.

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