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In Defense of Communication

Robert Franklin

Posted on June 21, 2018 11:38

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U.S. politics is divisive and incendiary, and most of us are more content with keeping the peace than having an uncomfortable conversation. Perhaps this approach is part of the problem?

A friend of mine, who has been vocal in his disgust toward what's happening with the current incarnation of immigration policy, was accused by a friend of his for posting "hate-filled" content. After re-reading my friend's posts on this topic, I couldn't figure out how criticizing the Trump administration's recent immigration policy, which is atrocious and infuriating, could be construed as "hate-filled," aside from the obvious answer.

But that accusation is indicative of a significant problem facing us — what I believe to be the real current undermining our democracy and throwing our society into a maelstrom of vexation. We can no longer communicate with one another.

Instead we faction off and engage in verbal warfare. We call each other "Rethuglicans" and "Libtards" while referring to opposing political beliefs as mental illnesses. We burn the media like witches, especially those institutions undeserving of such malice.

Worse, a significant portion of those of us who do not engage in such vacuous rhetoric have instead thrown our hands in the air and taken the position that "everyone is corrupt," like it's some kind of ideological "Get Out of an Uncomfortable Conversation Free" card.

But while we have our views and our means of antagonizing the opposing side, there is still truth buried in the rhetoric, and no matter the position, that truth doesn't go away. Although painting national anthem protests as a deliberate affront to the U.S. military makes for an emotive rallying cry for conservatives nationwide, it conveniently misses the entire point of the protests — the irrefutable systemic racism and brutality toward people of color in the United States.

Racism and brutality isn't a good thing to get behind, so if one reworks the narrative, the counter-protest can be supported in a way that doesn't necessarily invite accusations of racism. Similarly, painting conservatives, and President Trump's voting base in particular, as Nazis conveniently sidesteps the fact that many of them voted for Trump in spite of Trump. Their votes came down to ensuring a Republican was in the White House because of their concerns surrounding abortion, religious freedom and the economy.

But these details are rarely, if ever, discussed because we have developed a revulsion to having these kinds of discussions. Whenever my family gets together for anything, which usually involves going to dinner somewhere, there are some rules laid out beforehand — do not antagonize a family member with whom you might be having problems, do not forget your manners and do not talk about politics.

I think my family is taking the wrong approach to our political differences.

We shouldn't stonewall conversation for the sake of keeping the peace, much less for the preservation of our own political identities. We shouldn't shield ourselves from opposing views. But more importantly, it's imperative that we come to consensus on truth, and not what we want to believe is true.

To do that, we need to communicate. We don't necessarily have to agree, just keep talking to each other.

Robert Franklin

Posted on June 21, 2018 11:38

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