After a particularly long session of watching CNN coverage of the protests in Virginia, a friend declared to me that the white supremacists, Alt-Right, neo-Nazis and other flavors of Virginians were all “terrorists.”
He was also very focused on the person who rammed his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring many others.
When I noted that the driver should not be viewed as a terrorist but simply a criminal, my friend responded, “I just can’t talk to you about this stuff. You always defend the actions of conservatives like Trump and these protesters.”
I also tried to point out that these protesters have a right to say what they want due to that little old pesky Constitution, but the conversation was over at that point. My friend was leaving the room, waving his hand.
Unfortunately, I think many Americans now share similar views with that of my friend. Those with opposing viewpoints are no longer to be tolerated but silenced at any cost.
This is not the America I grew up in. When some fringe group like the KKK held a rally or march, we would simply ignore them. Through education about our country and its founding principles, we trusted that ideas like racism would eventually die out.
Many now believe that “actively” opposing such ridiculous racist tripe is somehow tantamount to a great battle in which the enemy must be crushed. Sorry, folks. By starting fights and committing violent acts, you are simply causing more attention to be focused on these marginal groups.
It also feeds the 24-hour news cycle, of which CNN is a primary conspirator.
Take last week, for example. We had CNN on the TV while we were doing chores. In a 30-minute span, I counted nine showings of the exact same footage of a female counter-protester get whacked by a neo-Nazi.
And that was only the nine times that I looked up from doing the dishes.
I also noted that the reporter who was covering the event made a clear and strong inference that the violence we were watching was somehow connected to the Trump White House. Both Trish and I were yelling at the screen on that one.
CNN: You need to report the news and not “create” it. You are not doing our nation a service by grossly manipulating a sad and tragic event.
What about the protesters? I’ll bet many of the initial group were there not as white racists but were expressing a concern over a loss of their cultural heritage. A statue of Robert E. Lee is a symbol to many in the South of lost lives, lost state’s rights and (dare I say) loss of personal freedom.
Of course, to others, the Lee statue is a symbol of slavery and race-based hatred. This is not unfounded since the Confederacy stood in stark defense of slavery.
Is this a case of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object?
Clearly, we never resolved the long-standing divisions created by the Civil War. Andrew Johnson marched the Union Army into the South but did little to change hearts and minds.
I can’t help thinking that if Martin Luther King Jr. had not been assassinated, would we see a different world in which we now live? Peaceful protest has been supplanted by a growing violence and uncivil discord.
I find many at fault in this debacle.
They include the initial Alt-Right protesters who have allowed grievances to fester unaddressed and unresolved to the point of boiling over into public spectacle. They are also included due to their inability to look at their belief system and weed out the bad from the good, which has crippled their ability to grow and learn.
Meanwhile, the liberal protesters are unable to see that violent counter-protests to stand against intolerance are, in themselves, intolerant. They spit on the very founding concepts of our nation.
Also at fault is Charlottesville law enforcement for ineffectively managing crowd locations and activity. It does not take much to realize that getting these groups in close contact created a powder keg ready to go off. If you grant one group a permit to march, don’t let the other group stand in its way.
And those lacking good judgment include news agencies – like CNN – who continue to feed a specific narrative and fail to report the news. They cynically think that Americans cannot digest the news for themselves and they must editorialize even the most trivial of events.
But mostly, I blame all of us who have allowed these problems to fester and grow. Shame on all of us for allowing hatred to turn malignant, for forgetting our history, and for giving tacit approval to irresponsible news organizations.
Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org