Fight fire with water

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I’m close with my entire family, but there’s one uncle in particular who has a very special place in my heart for a number of reasons.

Obviously, you have to have a special place in your heart for the man who taught you to be a rebel. While my parents made sure I said “please” and “thank you,” he taught me how to gamble and shoot straight with my BB gun.

Overall, he’s just a good guy.

There is,  however,  one thing that might turn some people against him—he used to be a Trump supporter.

My uncle is as much of a classic  American as they come. He, of course, believes in liberty and justice for all. He’s not a stupid man. He knows what empty rhetoric is. In fact, it is because of his intelligence that he supported Donald Trump. He’s tired of feeling like he’s being played by the career politicians.

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Graphic by Kyle Dunbar

He and I disagree on a number of issues,  including whether or not Trump is actually fit to be president, but at the end of the day, he’s still my uncle. He will always be my uncle. Just like at the end of this election cycle, the defeated Trump voters will go back to being our neighbors and our fellow Americans.

It strikes me that this is just one symptom of a larger issue facing our country. It is, no doubt, a side effect of the partisan wars.

It is doubletalk so obvious in its stupidity that it is disturbing that people don’t seem to catch it.

The loudest voices on the left and right say different things, but their nastiness and willingness to demonize their perceived enemies is identical. It frightens me to no end that there aren’t more editorials about this.

Take for instance the case of Oxford student Jacob Williams, who in his words, was tired of “debate–dodging campus politicos.” So to make his point, he started “No Offence,” a British student magazine meant to air unpopular opinions.

“So what’s happened is liberalism has started to eat itself, and people no longer accept that those who disagree with them on those issues are capable of being reasonable,  decent or compassionate human beings,” Williams said. “They barely accept that they’re human at all.”

An acquaintance of mine has even said that she’s surprised that no one has shot him yet.

And therein lies the real issue. It becomes exponentially easier to kill someone when you have stopped seeing them as human. Of course, most of the conflict doesn’t start with killing. It starts with jokes and angry Facebook posts, and gradually it becomes violence.

Now of course, this doesn’t apply to all liberals. Part of my worldview includes a saying that the huge majority of Americans, and most likely people in general, are rational moderates who still see the other side as human beings. But I would be lying if  I told you those fringe extremists don’t scare me.

Now, back to the Trump camp; he has definitely attracted some bad eggs. Among their number is perhaps the chief of the bad-egg tribe, former Klan leader David Duke.

Duke  endorsed  Trump, and encouraged his followers to do so as well. He said that it would be a betrayal to their heritage to vote for anyone other than Trump.

In light of this, it is easy for us to judge all  Trump supporters by the company  they keep. That’s a bad move on our part; it is exactly what they want us to do.

According to “The Atlantic” article, “The Great Republican Revolt,”  Trump’s seemingly unstoppable campaign is fueled by the angst of a group that few would have ever guessed would feel like outsiders.

Author David Frum wrote: “The angriest and most pessimistic people in America are the people we used to call Middle Americans. Middle-class and middle-aged; not rich and not poor; people who are irked when asked to press 1 for English, and who wonder how  white male became an accusation rather than a description.”

I’m not trying to downplay the fear I feel when I think about Donald Trump. The man is wicked.

We are the 9/11 generation. We are used to foreign threats to our way of life. This election cycle,  however,  the threat is a homegrown madman.  In past presidential elections, we were given a choice between two ideologies that both agreed, to certain extents, in our core American values of liberty and justice for all. Now we face a choice between preserving those ideals, or letting our fear give way to an American brand of populist extremism.

There’s a lot of truth to the saying about turning the other cheek and not meeting violence with more violence.

Violence only inspires more violence, and divisive language just leads to more divisive language.

The only real way to make America great again is by checking our egos, and our fiery tempers, at the door and having adult conversations about how to compromise and solve these problems.

Learn to see your opponents as people who just happen to disagree with you. If you want to continue to dehumanize the people who disagree with you, you’re more than welcome to stay at the kid’s table.

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