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John Avlon, columnist and editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast and the author of Wingnuts: Extremism in the Age of Obama (Beast Books Revised Edition, 2014), talks about today's political climate of hyper-partisanship.
As a mythical millennial, I just want reasoned debate using facts, and that's it. I'm amazingly turned off by appeals to people's prejudices or illogical fears.
Elsie, thanks for these insightful points, and for your thoughtful analysis. I believe the issues you raise are very important. There are many modes of anonymity. The fearful conformity of "identified" types on Facebook and similarly "social" media platforms is chilling. Glad to read your analysis of the way in which the appearance--or the reality--of a kind of medicated faux- or shallow-reasonableness, with its attendant air of supposed moderation, covers a more troubling reality and serves as one of many dangers to the freedoms, thoughtfulness, and subtlety (to quote Brian) of all of us.
We need to see better, and more deeply, to coin a phrase from Lear.
Speaking of wingnuts, did anyone notice Sean Hannity sitting front-row center courtside seats at the US Open last night? Those must be the people's seats, not the elitist seats.
My facebook friends tend to use the platform as a place for discussion, which I really like. People generally keep it civil. In contrast, with the last couple of comments I left on the BL FB page, really tame observations, I nearly had my head taken off by other BL fans - which I found surprising and frankly, hurtful, as I feel like this show is a place for informed, civil dialogue.
This is a specifically American problem. Europeans have no problem disagreeing with others or strongly stating their opinions (they also tend to be better informed of the facts than the average American). Here, we have been taught that it is poor manners to have a strong opinion, which is ludicrous, but very politically beneficial to the people in power because it keeps the general public in line. We honestly believe that sitting in the middle and trying to see everyone's side is a sign of moral superiority. Which is why our country looks the way it does -with the rich behaving with impunity while everyone else looks for reasons why we should see things "from their side". Very convenient for the elite. FB is the perfect place to teach any dissenters how to stay in line.
My Facebook page is semi-public because I'm a writer, so there are people who are my "friends" who I may not actually be true friends. Some of them are people who enjoy getting into fights with others online. I'll sometimes avoid posting something that might bring out the more vocal non-friends who follow my posts because I don't want people to think that I agree with the sometimes hateful things they say. And I also don't want to get drawn into a conversation thread that might get ugly. It takes up too much time and never goes anywhere good.
Come on, John, embrace the Beast -- anonymity is vital to online speech. You're never going to rid the world of wingnuts. Extremes balance the equation. How would we know where the center is otherwise? I mean, be Quixotic if you want, but you're barking at something that has existed even before the Patriots tossed out the Brits -- talk about wingnuts and anonymity, our founding fathers made it cool. Shout down the left/right extremes, but then move on to more important matters and give us a reason to care for you more than the loud mouths.
Guest just beat me to my point! Glad to hear him recognize importance of putting your name and reputation behind your comments.
There's a very simple solution to political extremism. Just replace plurality voting with pairwise-ranked voting. The result of that simple change would be that the pols can declare their independence from their party's orthodoxy and run in the general election with impunity no matter what their party's voters decide in the primary.
Facebook is ok for discourse because it's not anonymous, but Twitter is worthless- are you really going to have good discourse 140 characters at a time?That's said, maybe I am old for my age (39), but social media is a waste of time
I never hesitate...which is not always good. However, the debate that ensues is GREAT! Nothing is accomplished by silence!
“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”— Senator Barry Goldwater, acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination, San Francisco, July 16, 1964.
“Dogmatic ideological parties tend to splinter the political and social fabric of a nation, lead to governmental crises and deadlocks, and stymie the compromises so often necessary to preserve freedom and achieve progress.”— Republican Michigan Governor George Romney in a letter to Barry Goldwater explaining why he did not endorse him, December 21, 1964.
Copyright © 2014 Joseph Mirsky
P.S. - Avlon is a leftie-lite hack disguising himself as a "Third Way" centrist. His wife, Margaret Hoover, is the much smarter, more ariculate and more centrist of the two. He only really goes after conservative extremists.
A fascinating case for how radically FAR LEFT the Democrats have lurched is a wonderful book by written 23 years ago (1991) by uber-Leftie, Kennedy confidant and Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger-
The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society Hardcover “But the melting pot no longer seems an apt metaphor for the American experience: racial and ethnic minorities are drifting apart, focusing on individual heritage and becoming more bitterly divided. In this updated version of a modern classic, acclaimed historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. strikes a blow against radical multiculturalism. The rising cult of ethnicity, he argues, threatens a common American identity, imperiling the civic ideals that traditionally have bonded immigrants into a nation. Various chapters criticize bilingual education, Afrocentrism, and the use of history as group therapy for minorities.“
Schlesinger would be thrown out of the hyper-partisan Democrat Party of 2014, whose sole gimmick is to instil fear, fan resentment and encourage an atmosphere of tribalism.
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