For decades, I have allowed myself to be deluded into thinking that this wonderful country in which we live has an abundance of tolerance, grace and dignity and that those traits manifest themselves most appropriately and necessarily in the halls of government.
Today we see some of our leaders expressing themselves in ways that are discouraging, demoralizing and totally unacceptable to a supposedly civilized population.
Frankly, we Americans have allowed extremists to kidnap our national discourse and to direct the tone of dialogue and debate to the point of creating a volatile atmosphere.
Now, let’s stop right here and reiterate something — civilized dissent and dialogue are the correct and accepted manner of public affairs debate in this country. And, the ballot box is the ultimate arbiter for the conduct of those affairs. Voting in Congress — after responsible, measured and informed debate — is the great American lesson in democracy for the world.
It should not matter what political initial is after your name — that wonderful U.S. attitude of fairness via one man, one vote should direct our national discourse.
Unfortunately, that direction has been derailed in the recent vitriolic verbal upheaval over health care.
No matter where you stand on this critical matter — made perhaps much more controversial than it should be — it has been completely politicized and used as a truncheon to batter the “other side” in any forum.
Let’s take one narrow segment of the overall prattling — social networks on the Internet. This is a good example of the plethora of misconception, misdirection and misinformation assaulting the collective public mind.
ON SEVERAL occasions, I have written about the absolute lack of conscience as to what is “printed” or produced on the worldwide web.
There are strict rules in the world of newspapers, particularly in the community segment of publishing, that prevent falsehoods that seem to flood social media sites. Often, it is “wannabe-writer-editor-pundit” types that jump in the deep end of that Internet pool without the lifejacket of truth and validation. But, somehow their little water wings, constantly inflated by anger-filled bursts, keep them afloat.
One of the most heated debates in this country in years is over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
The two nametags have set off sizzling exchanges between normally sensible, fair-minded people.
One — ACA — is the official name of the law enacted by Congress and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The other — Obamacare — began as a convenient name for newspaper headline writers and for racists who fan the flames every minute of every day over our first President of African-American descent, but has been adopted by the President who said it grew on him. Perhaps, those who first used it in disdain will come to rue that decision should the ACA become what it is intended to be.
Public opinion polls — none of which are wholly conclusive nor scientifically underpinned — indicate that the ACA gets more approval than Obamacare. Yeah, they are one and the same. But, we’ve overcome racism in this country. Haven’t we?
ONE LAST JAB at the world of word usage to indicate the level, not only of confusion, but of the potential for promoting divisiveness.
If you are designated as someone’s “friend” on Facebook, you have access to all they post on that website. If they don’t like you, they can “unfriend” you, thus eliminating your access to their “private” postings.
Those terms probably offend Quakers. Frankly, it cuts against my grain as well.
A newsman’s opinion is right here in print, for all to see, to measure, weigh and judge. And, to fire away, if you choose, with your words enjoying the World Wide Web’s mask of anonymity.
Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher of more than 50 years experience. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.