Columbia prof: “dangerous sign: the demonization of opponents”

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No need to be alarmist; I don’t believe we are headed for civil war.

But I do believe things are currently on their way to getting worse before they get better.  And they are already violent.  People are today being shot over ideological intolerance.  And killed.  If we want to turn this ship before it worsens, the time is now to recognize we have a problem, properly diagnose and fix it.

Otherwise, by way of a taste of what could come, in the sixteen months starting January 1969 there were 4,332 bombings in the US.  It can get much worse.

NPR ran a piece today addressing this.  “Another ‘Civil War’? Pessimism About Political Violence Deepens In A Divided Nation.”  In it, Barnard College at Columbia University political science professor Dr. Sheri Berman observes,

I already think we’ve seen some pretty dangerous signs, the most important of which is the demonization of opponents…. The second step is seeing people as unable to be dealt with or compromised with, and that can fairly easily slip into more extreme kinds of behavior.

Mike Jobbins, whose organization Search for Common Ground works to end violent conflict around the world, echos this,

“Prior to some of these conflicts that erupted you see a drop in the capacity to deal with one another, and to focus on one sort of prevailing identity …. That’s something we see here in the U.S. as we look at some of the partisan political divisions.”

Exactly.

The problem is not that we disagree.  We should disagree.  The problem is how we disagree.  If we want to recruit skeptics to our point of view, we need to persuade, not divide.  Learn why and how here.

 

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2 Comments

    Carr McClain

    Posted at Reply

    Most of us were 3 years old in 1969, but if you research that period, you quickly realize that there is nothing going on today that comes close to tearing us apart the way Vietnam and the civil rights battle tore us apart then. We live today in the State of Fearz which was created by the government and the media (each for their own purposes) after 9-11.

    Hank

    Posted at Reply

    Hi Carr! Agreed re: 1969. I was going to observe that point, that the issues we are wrestling with today should not fundamentally be as divisive as those in 1969. However, I’m confident that would just distract attention down the path of “You’re saying global extinction from climate change is not serious? Roe v Wade is not serious?” Sure, those issues are serious, but that’s not the point of the piece. The point is not the issues; it’s how we’re choosing to interact with each other over them. Wanted to not distract from that point.

    Thanks for your point and BTW, haven’t forgotten your writing….

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Divisive partisanship is preventing us from accomplishing “jack.”

Americans’ propensity to quickly leap to negative prejudgements of ideological opponents poisons our ability to interact with the teammates we need to advance our personal and national goals.

We’re going to fix that.

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