In retrospect in seems that – going back 30-40 years – a change of political tactics, efforts more directed at personalizing differences of opinion has arisen. It’s a personalizing in most instances that deliberately avoids a discussion of issues in the interest of demonizing supporters of views opposed to your own.
Demonization: [Merriam Webster] includes the following: b : a source or agent of evil, harm, distress, or ruin
Our entrepreneurial honesty suggests that if we can provoke readers and listeners on the left and right in such a way as to get them to come back for more, we have found another way to make a living … to earn money. But does a free-market capitalism imply justification for the elevation of revenue and profit above the value of common good, common well being and of course common sense.
Lots of communicators have followed the money using as a tool, inflammatory charges that are pretended to be civic discourse. However, Civic Discourse seems to get left standing at the starting gate after the bell has rung while Inflammatory Charges are running neck and neck into the final turn and already coming up the backstretch.
As author Robert Wright has said,
The point is that Americans who wildly depict other Americans as dark conspirators, as the enemy, are in fact increasing the chances, however marginally, that those Americans will be attacked.
… But the more incendiary theme in current discourse is the consignment of Americans to the category of alien, of insidious other.
So if I as an American citizen have a problem with other Americans or non-Americans who disagree with me, am I justified in consigning those who disagree to a status lower than my own civil-liberties protected life?
Am I justified in condemning those who disagree with me to a status of “less-than”, “not as worthy” and “deserving of destruction?”
Again from Robert Wright,
If you convince enough people that an enemy of the American way is setting up a system that could kill them, the violent hatred will take care of itself.
This is the core of the problem.
Contempt, rejection and advocacy of the termination of ideas as things viable in civic discourse is fine so long as it addresses ideas. But can you personalize your contempt and rejection of what you believe are harmful ideas and transmute that personalization into a public advocacy of termination of persons who are the targets of your contempt and rejection?
The backbone of civic decision-making is compromise of ideas, plans, and actions … spiced with the attitude that the will of the people is not represented by any one political perspective or absolute. The back-breaker is the notion that one perspective is holy, sacred and able to withstand any challenge to its ideology and that any other perspective – and it’s supporters – need to be eliminated. We might take umbrage at the idea, but does not the recent violence make us look like someone other than who we think we really are and what we are about?
“Arthur”, one might ask, “how dare you compare us to our most hated enemies?
One more from Robert Wright,
My own view is that if you decide to go kill a bunch of innocent people, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re not a picture of mental health. But that doesn’t sever the link between you and the people who inspired you, or insulate them from responsibility.
Wright source: First Comes Fear