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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ordinarily, I’d thank you for writing.

But truth is, I am not grateful you wrote; your note last week was one of the more troubling things I have read. I do not blame you for leaving it unsigned.

“We stand together,” I had written. “We stand defiant. And we stand with Boston.”

You disagreed.

“Your wrong pal we do not STAND TOGETHER.OH MY GOD we need a CIVIL WAR.The American people against the LIBERAL DEMACRAT SCUM that we have let allow SCUMBAGS like those that would BLOW UP people in BROAD DAYLIGHT to be here … WE NEED A CIVIL WAR.Those demacrats that happen to still be breathing after that CIVIL WAR will have a choice. BECOME NORMAL or you are LEAVING with the 11 million illegals that ARE GOING HOME … THIS IS SO CLOSE TO HAPPENING THAT EVERY LIBERAL IN THIS COUNTRY SHOULD START LOSING SLEEP … THERE IS A CLEAR REASON WHY WE ARE ARMED TO THE TEETH …”

And you know, there was a time, not so long ago, I’d have laughed off your semi-coherent, misspelling-riddled rant. But I don’t laugh so much anymore, because you concretize a question I have been struggling with: Is America sustainable? Can a nation pulling so energetically in opposite directions survive?

We call it hyper-partisanship, polarization, balkanization. But those are SAT words, polysyllabic expressions that make abstract what they describe. So let us face what you embody and call it by name. It is hatred. And it is contempt.

It’s not just you. It’s Arkansas state legislator Nate Bell tweeting, “I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?” as the hunt for bombers closed that city down.

Before that, it was that man in Florida who committed suicide because Barack Obama was re-elected. And so-called “patriots” in the woods plotting against the government. And a sign promising death to the First Lady and her “two stupid kids.” It’s the true state of the union, the America we have come to be.

Yes, I know. Bill Maher once called Sarah Palin a crude and sexist name. Shame on that smarmy little man. But no, that does not suggest an equivalence of hatred and contempt. In volume, vociferousness and pure venom, Maher and the handful of other left-wing pundits who mistake name-calling for argument and coarseness for wit have nothing on the army of Hannitys, Coulters, Savages, Santorums, Limbaughs, Palins, Bachmanns, Malkins, Nugents, Trumps and Becks trolling the sewers of American disunion.

Now, to them, we add you, my nameless countryman, advocating for war. War.

And I am struck by the fact that I am not struck by the fact. Even this is just business as usual now.

A nation is more than common geography. It is also common values, a common way of looking at the world — not that everyone agrees on everything always, but that we are at least tethered by similar understanding of who we are and what that means.

It is that test this country fails now with regularity. We can’t even agree on who we are anymore, so swamped are we by the rage red holds for blue.

The road to Civil War began 153 years ago as Southern states, led by South Carolina, passed ordinances of secession from the Union. But, as a nation is more than just geography, so, too, is secession therefrom. The act represents a tearing away that is as much spiritual and emotional as it is geographic. Maybe even more.

So if the likes of you and Mr. Bell are right, if it is really beyond us now even to stand shoulder to shoulder with stricken fellow citizens, then we have lost more than bombs could ever destroy. And secession has already occurred.

(Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla., 33132. Readers may contact him via email at [email protected])

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

  • John Pigg

    As long as both parties remain ideological engaged as a left or a right party it is impossible to have dialogue. The country needs liberals within the GOP just as it needs conservative Democrats. Only when the parties have thrown off their ideological rigidity and accepted alternative viewpoints will we see a return to responsible governance.

    • The Main Problem We’re Having Is Some Want This Country For The Wealthy And Others Like Myself Want This Country For EVERYONE!!!

      • I occasionally have personal conversations with my very devout and very Republican employer. Twice I had occasion to say to him: In my world, no matter how bad things get, there will always be a place for you, but in your world their will not be a place for me. His response: A grin from ear to ear. Forgive me this arrogance, but: Which one of us is really Christian? I no longer have any affinity or sympathy for Christianity, but I still believe firmly in its better principles. So I am seen as an unfortunate, Hell bound heathen, while, he is seen as Heaven’s ideal, though he does not profess nor does he believe in any of the tenets of his own religion beyond “order” and control. His kind feel, that if I must die to better his lot, then though unfortunate, it is necessary. On the other hand, in his view, he is deserving of a full share, even when there is not enough to go around. He is not really a wealthy man, but he believes the rich have those rights, as they are part of God’s plan of “order” for the world. Unfortunately, and I do not care what right-wing hypocrites have to comment, that was not what Christ taught. I think for most American “Christians” (root word is “Christ” after all) their religion should be called Phariseenity.

        • Allan Richardson

          And they ignore Matthew 25, which tells them they will have to explain things someday to Comrade Jesus.

        • Michael Kollmorgen

          You too huh?

          I had a business owner tell me, the one who was my employer, I’d never make it.

          Well, guess what? I’m still surviving and he drove the business I worked for bankrupt through his own stupidity. He wouldn’t listen to any of us workers advice on how to do certain things either.

          Plus the business had an extremely high employee turnover rate because of his asinine behavior. Qualified people just wouldn’t tolerate it and just quit left and right. I stayed there because I needed the job, plus I liked the work I was doing. But, I hated his guts eventually. Just about everyone there did too.

          I’d love to catch the bastard in a dark alley someday. But, he’s not worth the effort.


      • idamag

        And the wealthy can use their money to shape opinion and keep the division going. It is the old strategy of divide and conquer. If we don’t start coming together we will lose our democracy.

    • Unfortunately, neither party is pure, but when we make the point out about being “ideologically engaged” we should remember one thing. Only repub tea party candidates are being elected on a platform that they will NOT engage in any dialogue unless it entirely supports their rigid ideology.

      • John Pigg

        I do not think that only Tea Party Republicans are to blame for putting ideology over the good of the country. There has not been enough Democratic criticisms of this present administration, just like there was little to any Republican criticisms of theirs. We need a congress that will not follow the Party line on every issue but challenge authority to provide important answers and solutions.

    • Don’t see that happening in my life time!!

      • july860

        Call me an optimist; I do.

    • atc333

      Unfortunately, it is impossible to “have a dialogue” when one side or the other is saying “my way or the highway”. There is no middle ground for some, and until the 50% + of people in America can convince some of the less racial of the Far Right, and Far left that the only way to move forward is to compromise, and vote the radicals out of Congress who are up for reelection in 2014, by electing some more moderate candidates, either Democrat or Republican into office. Obviously, 2012 was a step in that direction considering the choices offered by the GOP.. The voters of America simply need to keep that momentum up.

      • John Pigg

        Right you are. And I definitely agree with you on 2012.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      One of the biggest problems is that left has given into the rights’ demands for way too long. This all started around when Reagan was President and hasn’t stopped since.

      Trickle-Down Economics, shipping our jobs overseas, destroying our union representation, deliberate blocking of voter rights, threatening to dismantle our already paid-for government programs such as SS, giving Corporations human rights does not represent Liberal, progressive Ideology.

      We can also thank Reagan for embracing the Evangelical Movement which destroyed religion as it was meant to be.

      It’s way past time when the left finds its balls wherever we lost them. We need return to our core values of liberal, progressive democrats, as well as restoring our out-of-the-government’s ass secular-based society to what it once was, or at least what it was meant to be – a true separation between church and state.

      There is no longer a “middle ground” (its being pushed more to right with each passing year). It’s time the people of this country finally realizes this and deal with it in a peaceful manner. If not, if revolution is the final result, so be it!

      I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already. It’s probably way overdue!

      • John Pigg

        It wasn’t just Republicans fault. Clinton was the one that spearheaded NAFTA, the Unions are in trouble because the Democrats abandoned them (In my opinion).

        But I am glad workers are finally saying enough is enough.

        • Michael Kollmorgen

          Yes, I know Clinton did the dirty deed.

          However, if he hadn’t of done it, Bush 1 would have. Bush was the one who pushed for it and was going to sign it but ran out of time before he got out of office.

          But, I’ll tell ya, NAFTA really doesn’t mean anything anymore. China is gutting Mexico just as bad as they are doing us.

          That great sucking sound Ross spoke of is now being heard from China, not Mexico. And, we can thank Nixon for “opening” up china to Corporate Greed. Also, we can thank the American Government for helping China become Communist during WW2.

          • John Pigg

            Agreed, however I have a hard time blaming Republicans for doing what comes naturally.

            I would like the Democrats to be more concerned about what its going to take to get those jobs back, then continuing the process by signing more free trade deals. It seems like that would be a lot easier to do than try to treat the symptoms..

          • Michael Kollmorgen

            Signing free trade agreements is what got us into this mess in the first place.

            I don’t care how how low we can force american workers to go on wages. If we want to maintain our standard of living, we can not compete with $1 an hour wages from another country.

            Mass production is not a solution either. There is a limit on how much mass production a country can produce. There are only so many Widgets people are going to buy, even at a low price.

  • docb

    Hear Hear, we have been subsumed by the violent. vitriol, and idiosyncratic flailing of the under class..Where reason and discourse are no longer possible . Fear mongering has been sold to those that need an object for their unfounded fears…enter the ‘OTHER’! Isolation and alienation..Divide for profit..Sad and shameless

    • idamag

      You said it like it is.

  • Eleanore Whitaker

    If the country is divided, it’s divided by the actions of extremists with extremist views on what this country “should” be…not what it is. The USA has always had ups and downs. Today, the top 1% want zero downs and only ups. That’s as linear a view as those at the bottom who are manic paranoids who believe every American who disagrees with their extremist views must be their enemy.

    How doesn’t this make the US wide open for terrorist attacks? The reality is that there are those in the US who are spoiling for a Civil War. It’s the reason they hide out in the backwoods and create militias. It’s also the reason for their hormones that force their violent natures out in the open.

    Most Americans want peace and quiet. Not incessant wars, constant murders every day and guns in our faces and our children’s faces. Those who want to “take their country back,” don’t just want to “take” it back, they want to control it. At what point did these hokum yokums become the last word on our Constitutional rights?

    The more you see Sons of Guns and the rest of the ignorant slime that comes from the most violent men and women in the country, the more resistance there will be to their control freak obsession to control others. This is the division they are really facing today.

    • If I were a betting man, I would have predicted that the Boston bombing was the work of white, right-wing, racist, anti-government “sovereigns.” I rarely predict, but the odds seemed to be very much in favor of a home-grown terrorist unit. I was wrong, of course, but I would suggest that anyone do research through news archives in recent years. Those groups are responsible for hundreds of incidents every year nationwide. For some reason the “liberal” press the wingers talk about does not report it much. At least, not in the mainstream. (Of course, we know those “foul and imbalanced” people at Faux will not be reporting on this.) Yet, the information is out there and it is frightening what hatred and mental deficiency are getting up to. The reason the Boston attack rose to be such a media event was the simple fact that it was in one of our largest East Coast population centers. That and the marathon is well-followed by the media to begin with and the horrific nature of the injuries. If this had happened in a small mid-Western town, with only a couple of injuries, we might never have heard.

      • Michael Kollmorgen

        I originally thought it was a toss-up between a Islam thing or a white hate group sort of thing.

        In a way though, this was a home-grown terrorist attack. The younger guy grew up here from the age of 9, now 19.

        So, if this wasn’t home-grown, I’d like to know what is.

        There’s a lot of nut cases just in this country alone who are home-grown citizens. And, when something like this does happen, I’ve never heard of a far-left group doing it, not for many many years (at least not since the 60s).

        It’s usually done by these organized far-right so-called christian hate groups, or some off-the-wall unorganized fringe hate group that claims they are christian orientated.

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      From what I have seen of the program Sons of Guns, they mostly service law enforcement entities. I would imagine most if not all of that auto stuff you see being fired off is police-orientated ordnance.

      Yes, they do customizing of private weapons. However, the local hack from the smokies probably couldn’t afford it.

      Honestly though, I don’t know why they even had the show on Cable. But, then again, people like sensationalism.

      Now, if you really want to talk about a program that is totally wacked out, tune into Sons of Anarchy. That is one show you don’t want your kids watching. Pure Garbage. Can’t put it any plainer. This show displays the “underbelly” of society in the worst possible light.

      I’m not too hot on all these Cop Programs either.

      I’ve gotten to the point of NOT watching Cable hardly at all lately. When I do, its usually on the Internet via a Roku Box and good quality programming.

  • The fact that some of my closest relatives, and several good friends, are Republicans and Tea Party sympathizers give me access to some of the information the far right disseminates in the blogosphere and among their most loyal supporters. Much of it is downright scary. The only conclusion that can be reached after reading their articles and Internet posts is that ignorance, while rampant, is just one of several factors for their behavior and mindset.
    Call for civil war, armed insurrection, violence are normal and it is influenced, largely, by a constant barrage of misinformation, with a heavy dose of overt hatred and intolerance in it. Most of the recipients of this information don’t bother to check facts, they accept the information without question, and don’t hesitate to repeat it regardless of how bizarre or illogical it may sound. Facts are dismissed and disregarded as demonstrations of liberalism.
    The common denominator seems to the hatred, intolerance, lack of compassion, and a level of hypocrisy and cynicism that was clearly evident during and after the recent vote on gun ownership background checks. In that case, the people that ignored the Second Amendment clause that calls for the formation of a well regulated militia, boasted about their ability to prevent liberals interferring with the Constitution! The main reason for their opinion, behavior and plans is fear. The segment of our population that has dominated most facets of life in America since we became a Republic is likely to become a minority within a few decades, and instead of doing something like increasing their fertility rate and curbing the level of violence that contributes to the slaughter of tens of thousands of Americans every year, they focus on the deporation of people who plant and harvest the food we eat, and the right of criminals, people with prison records, and people afflicted by mental illnesses to bear arms.
    Ignorance limits our ability to grow intellectually, our ability to find meaningful employment, and makes us susceptible to exploitation. Fear often results in irrational behavior, with terrible consequences to the societies where it prevails.

    • sigrid28

      It is a saving grace that you and others like you, value friends and family members who do not share your beliefs, as you say in this post. Imagine how much more fearful the right might become if those on the left gave up principles we hold dear, such as tolerance, human rights, and freedom of speech. I think an open path to understanding gives Republicans susceptible to moving to the center an opportunity to cope better with their fears, open their eyes, and perhaps even change their minds.

  • sigrid28

    As this awful letter demonstrates, Mr. Pitts, the melting pot has become a pressure cooker. We had better make sure that freedom of speech will continue to serve as its pressure valve, with growing toleration as a back-up safety valve. First manufactured in 1864 (you couldn’t make this up), pressure cookers create internal steam pressure to cook food quickly. This steam, however, must be gradually released. Otherwise, the thing blows up. Nevertheless, for generations, no American family was without one. Our mothers, who mastered the technique of safely letting off steam to feed their families, at a time when no one would dream of ordering carry-out, would feel violated by the evil purpose that their handy cookware has been put to. I’m afraid we will have to emulate these savvy homemakers if we are to harness the pressure welling up within our society and make something good come out of it.

  • I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed this. Or who had the balls to write about it.

    Remember how, after 9/11, the whole country came together? Even those of us on the left who thought of George W. Bush as a man who stole the election with five votes from people appointed by his father, we still stood behind him after 9/11. Because as much as we hated Bush, we could never hate him more than we loved America.

    These pricks are the exact opposite. They hate the Democrats more than they could ever love America. So much so that even a terrorist attack is, to them, nothing but one more excuse for them to continue spewing off their Koch approved vitriol.

    And, like you, I wish I could say I was surprised by this. And I’m now at the point where, when they say “Revolution!” my first impulse is to yell “Hurry up and do it already!”

    • You know. I always remark about the violence overseas and ask “how do people live like that, with bombs going off all the time. Their homes descimated and nothing left but rubble and still go on fighting?” Wouldn’t it be so much easier to get along with concessions made by both sides but I guess I grew up in a very naive age. I don’t understand this utter hatred for our President.
      For all our attention to equality, the fact that our President is black is the biggest factor that I can see for the cause! We haven’t moved as far as we think in everyone beng equal. A lot of lip service but the hatred lays simmering!

      • Not the fact that he’s black so much as that he’s the son of a poor single mother. Barack Obama is proof that the American dream, in spite of all of the richest 1%’s best efforts, is still possible.

        Race is certainly a part of it, but sometimes it feels less like they hate Obama because he’s black, and more like they hate blacks because Obama is black.

    • july860

      Wait, isn’t that spelled “DEMACRAT”?

  • elw

    Leonard Pitts is right the people represented by the unsigned letter he received are scary. But the fact that they exist is not as simple as Right vs. Left, the fact that our President is Black, or even this point in history. Human history is full of stories of people who express their hatred through violence and twisted leaders who use lies and scapegoats as a way to mislead their followers into war. In reality they are cowards and weaklings who use guns, nasty words and deception to get what they want by scaring you. Personally, I do not want to stand shoulder to shoulder with them, there are far too many others whose shoulders
    feel better and they are only loud not the majority. I say anyone who sends threatening, anonymous letters is a coward who has no moral strength. People like the writer of that letter will only win if we let them.

  • SaneJane

    I think there is something more at play here. Anticipating the thrill of war is very exciting to those who have little or no hope of accomplishing anything of consequence. War is a macho activity and someone who feels their manhood under attack by women, gays, non-whites, foreigners, gun confiscators, liberals, Democrats, the US Government, terrorists, nutritionists, any religion other than their own, education, science, and assorted other evils, would welcome this violent means to make their mark on history while proving they are a man.

    • Allan Richardson

      That was the appeal of the Nazi party to a certain “loser” class of Germans. The men who could not read and write well enough to keep an office job in their economy were brainwashed into blaming the “international Jewish conspiracy”, and were rewarded with the chance to wear fancy uniforms and use fancy titles like, e.g. “obergruppenfuhrer” (forgive my bad German, but you get the idea), and suddenly these losers were IMPORTANT. The Klan does the same thing: an incompetent plumber with no status on the outside becomes a Kleagle or Klaxon or whatever, with the white robes with ugly decorations. It might be cheaper to buy each of these “men” a sports car and hire some women to fulfill their fantasies! (Not really)

    • Michael Kollmorgen

      There is an old belief that the bigger the weapon, the owner “thinks” his wanker is the same size.

      Yes, war is a very Macho thing to do. But, women put the man up to do it in the first place.

      Who was the fault of Adam falling out of grace? Eve!
      Who caused the war between Troy and Sparta? Helen, of course!

      There is even a theory that the fattening of women’s behind is driving more wars because more gas is required to cart them around.

      Not tonight, I got a headache, is enough to drive a guy to go to war.

      Also, according to an article on “The Telegraph”, “The hunger for women, along with property, are blamed for the evolution of belligerence and bravery by a study of the mathematics of warfare”. The study was conducted at Stanford University.

  • Lynda Groom

    The country is divided into two camps. Those who are capable of rational thought and those who are not. All the rest is just hand waving and hyperbole painted as rhetoric.

  • rustacus21

    On many levels, this really is the fault of Democrats. We can point specifically & to start, w/President Obama for not immediately dismantling the entire edifice of the 2001-2009 (SEE-I still can’t say the words “President” & “George W…” together – even after all these years!!! Sorry…) administrations’ policies; Democrats taking ‘War Crimes’ prosecutions off the table even before exposure of updated info!…; going along w/what they knew was wrong intel in going into 2 wars (bin Laden wasn’t going anywhere & WOULD HAVE been caught just the way he was – by a handful of elite soldiers expert at operations as such, instead of wasting 10’s of hundreds of 1000’s of lives on all sides & trillions in desperately needed treasure & Iraq was unrelated totally); by not standing up for Liberal/Progressive values, deploying them so adherents to conservative & T-bagger ignorance would see proof-positive of the superiority of a philosophy that translates excellently in America as well as Iraq, as in Afghanistan, as in Northern Ireland, Egypt, as in Indonesia, Burma, etc, & going back to Watergate & allowing Nixon to simply WALK! By 1996, the nation had emerged from the Reagan/Bush era economic/political/social nitemare & by 2000, the world was on the verge of incorporating peace, prosperity & coexistence-values into their own cultures/governments. Too many American however, bought the conservative ‘snake-oil’ in 2000, w/the impact of degenerating the nation to THIS! This IS racism & we need to understand that b/c of it, a large group of American citizens have come completely unhinged. This is why conservatives don’t want a mental health component in any Gun Safety legislation now pending. But we all MUST do as Mr. Pitts emplores us – & press even harder & STOP cowering in the face of obviously mentally troubled individuals who haven’t yet developed the ‘social maturity’ to realize that a ‘true’ & ‘honest’ reading of the Declaration of Independence & the Constitution means exactly what it says: “… with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we ‘MUTUALLY’ pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor…” (Declaration) & “… We the People… establish Justice, insure domestic ‘TRANQUILITY’, provide for the common defense, promote the general ‘WELFARE’ & secure the Blessings of ‘LIBERTY’ to… our Posterity… (the U.S. Constitution), w/inclusion to ALL & exclusion of none. They (the Founders) knew what an imperfect world they existed even then. Liberal/Progressives in the vein of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Eisenhower, Carter, Clinton & even if reluctantly, Obama & American’s of virtue, must counteract this perplexity that has overtaken the minds of so many, as a result of their being exploited by way of their own self-imposed ignorance. Self-enlightenment is a choice, just as is ignorance. Public Education – FULLY FUNDED – is the ESSENTIAL cure & is an initiative whose time is come more than ever…

  • howa4x

    Why have a struggle at all. Let the red states ban abortion and chase every gay person out. Then the blue states will have the rule of law and the red ones the rule of the New testament. If these people want religious tyranny then why stop them? They better think of a few things before they kill us all though. 1st off we have the money and the brain power, and are supporting their tomfoolery. If they are successful in their states let them go. Do you think I care if Alabama or Mississippi wants to leave? Both states will face a health care tsunami due to obesity. Why should we pay for them. Well red staters think of it this way. 1st the gays will go followed by the single women, since abortion will be outlawed. Then any intelligent person will leave for fear of death squads in the night. Then you can have all your guns, but sorry no jobs since they will follow the intelligent people. So then you can all march around patting each other on the back on how tough albeit stupid you all really are.. Besides the mid west will be having more and more droughts so we in the blue states need to make more deals with Canada for grain and Australia for beef and Israel for chickens( just kidding). Then the red states will be just a bunch of angry white people with guns. So what’s changed?