Us vs. them seems easier,
but doesn't find solutions
Attempting to avoid what's happening is futile. Most people are calling it politics. That seems inaccurate. The motivations behind our collective despair and division make political motives seem quaint. It's one thing to disagree on climate change, civil rights or the electoral college. Right now, it's more than that. People aren't being divvied up by political leanings. Now, we debate determining winners and losers by race, income or how easily any particular group can be vilified. Vulnerability is a sin. Being brown or black is a crime. If you are white and afraid, you're a winner. We've outgrown politics. All this stuff happening now is happening because we chose teams from a contained choice. It was simple once. Republicans were good at war, Democrats were good at peace and both costs about the same.
It's more complicated now.
Each of us has our own experience with the complication, no doubt. It's easy enough to explain without data sets: Nothing makes sense when racists, bikers, holy rollers and casino owners all agree to side up against people who read.
It seems like an impossible divide because it's easier in black and white. Or red versus blue. We liked our arguments about tax increases and farm bills. It's tougher now because both camps began taking in everyone, including holy rollers, to stay ahead of the other. The people who joined either tribe were, for good or bad, angry.
The only fix for this is a simple one. We may need to chunk it all down before we can face one another. Empathy may be our only way out.
I watched and read about the ongoing "national emergency" at the southern border. As the story unfolded about refugee families being separated, it still seemed distant. It remained far away until I remembered attempting to sleep away from home for the very first time.
I was 6. All I could feel at school that morning was fear. It would be parts of two days without seeing my mother. I became homesick before I left home and I never made it to my friend Todd's that weekend.
Imagine a first sleepover as a 6- or even a 4-year-old guarded by armed green men.
Stopping that from happening isn't politics.
It's what we vote for.
Retelling of Civil War
can't exclude slavery
Modern American defenders of the Confederate States of America are the only people who do not know the Civil War was fought over the fate of 4 million enslaved human beings, mainly in the Southern states. They advance numerous reasons for the Civil War, but never slavery. It is no longer fashionable to be in favor of slavery.
Southern states that seceded from the Union were not shy about what they viewed as the positive good of slavery. Ordinances of secession universally stated the need to leave the Union in order to protect slavery. Now 150 years later, contemporary defenders deflect criticism of flying the Confederate battle flag by claiming the flag is "about heritage, not hate." But it was never about hate; it was always about slavery.
When secessionists fired on Fort Sumter in 1861, they did so under the theory that white slaveholders in South Carolina had no obligations to a national government determined to limit the spread of slavery. Under pressure of a desperate war, Lincoln at last was forced to recognize what had begun in 1776 could no longer continue with slavery. This is why the great memorial in our capital features Lincoln, not Jefferson Davis.
A letter published in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette April 11 ("When will real history of Civil War be taught?") includes earnestly held thoughts, facts and theories about the right of the South to secede -- but nothing about slavery that would be included as first order of business in any real history of the Civil War. It reminds me of the way we were taught about the Civil War when I was growing up in Fort Smith. We worshiped Robert E. Lee and the Confederate flag, but never associated them with slavery.
FayettevilleCommentary on 04/16/2019
Print Headline: NWA Letters to the Editor