Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Divided America On Display

Many things divide America today but the biggest is not race, not religion, not sex, nor sexual preference. They’re all in the mix but increasingly subsumed into that primary division — political orientation. There are intelligent people on both left and right and they all watched last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Judge Kavanaugh. However, one side concluded that Kavanaugh is a drunken, sexual predator while the other believes he’s a victim of a savage, Democrat hit machine.

How can intelligent people see the same thing and interpret it so differently? Something the late psychiatrist M. Scott Peck wrote in one of his books keeps coming back to me. In The Road Less Traveled, Peck said we all construct maps to understand what’s happening in the world and navigate through life. They can be effective guides until the world changes. We may be driving along guided by a GPS unit with outdated software and find ourselves going the wrong way on a one-way street.

As evidence piles up indicating that our map is no longer accurate we have two choices: We can ignore the evidence by rationalizing it away, or we can do the work necessary to construct a new map — a new way of understanding the world. According to Scott Peck, most do the former because “the process of making revisions… is painful, often excruciatingly painful… Often this act of ignoring is much more than passive… We may denounce the new information as false, dangerous… We may actually crusade against it… and try to manipulate the world so as to make it conform to our view of reality. Rather than try to change the map, [we] may try to destroy the new reality.”

Politically, Americans tend to align with one party or the other. We trudge along for a while until we realize that neither offers a worldview we trust anymore. We can at that point declare ourselves independent, but we still tend to vote for one party or the other consistently. Almost by default, we find ourselves on the left or on the right. Is Bernie Sanders really independent? Is Angus King?

In my classroom, we discussed current events, often very controversial ones. My best students argued passionately for one side or the other and I came to realize that their views usually reflected those of their parents, which is natural enough. Maybe their parents had, in turn, adopted their parents’ views, or perhaps they labored to construct their own. They were either loyal to their ancestors or they did a lot of work to draw their own political map. Each method brings with it a strong emotional attachment to a particular worldview which becomes the prism through which we view almost everything.

Emotion can cloud the thinking of intelligent people and it flooded the hearing last Thursday. Both sides were drowning in it and rational thought took a back seat. Is one side or the other manipulating the world to make it conform to its view of reality? Are both? The word “abortion” didn’t come up that day but it’s a principal dynamic in Kavanaugh’s nomination process, and both sides are heavily invested. The left sees abortion as liberating women to pursue their careers, their very lives, from the burden of bearing and raising children. The right understands abortion as dismembering innocent human babies in the womb.

Sex is another dynamic closely related to abortion. The left views pregnancy as an accident on the sexual liberation highway. When birth control fails, get to the body shop for an abortion. It’s a “women’s health” issue they claim, which implies that pregnancy is a disease. They claim that men, especially white men like the Republicans on the committee, would force women to have children, like a scene out of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Protesters appeared at the hearing dressed in Handmaid costumes. Then the left brought in Christine Blasey Ford to accuse Kavanaugh of trying to force her to have sex.

Conservative writer Denise McAllister tweeted the following while the watched the hearing:

“At the root of #abortion hysteria is women’s unhinged desire for irresponsible sex. Sex is their god. Abortion is their sacrament. It’s abhorrent as women have flung themselves from the heights of being the world’s civilizing force to the muck and mire of dehumanizing depravity.”

She’s now in hiding after claiming she received multiple threats to rape and strangle her followed her tweet. Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh got similar threats. Although considered a sexual predator by half of America, Kavanaugh claimed in a television interview last week that as a faithful Catholic, he was a virgin until years after going to college — a rather remarkable claim for a man in 21st century America.

The Kavanaugh hearings not only exemplified America’s divide; they deepened it. As emotion continues to boil over the gap between left and right is becoming a gulf.


Uber_Fritz said...


I saw the hearings as an attempted character destruction of a man by any means possible without any limitations. Now it appears that if you are a white male, then you are not entitled to the Constitutional protections offered by Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. Perhaps the time has come for white males to be designated as a suspect class under the 14th Amendment. As I see it , the Democrats represent the epitome of hypocrisy and there are more than sufficient facts to prove it!

Brian said...

I thought this week's column was pretty good.

As for Uber's comment, it would only be seen as a character destruction if you automatically assumed that Ford was lying. What Constitutional protections were violated? I know he won't answer, because none were violated. And does he really believe that one couldn't come up with thousands of examples of incredible hypocrisy from Republicans? Ironic that he is being hypocritical as he calls others hypocritical. I will try and refrain from engaging more into such ridiculous dividing statements, but it's hard to bite my tongue sometimes. I'm working on it.

Anonymous said...

Then there’s the Left’s playbook, Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”, when all reasoning and decorum are thrown out the window to achieve their Marxist objectives.

I don’t think the hard-Left has any intention of compromising, getting along or worries about ethics or conventional values other than to destroy them to win. In psychology there is a term known as “confirmation bias” such as reading books by or associating with only like-minded people.

Today's Dems are different than traditional Democrats. These revolutionaries want money and power and will use any tactic to achieve both. Hilary was a prime example until someone with a backbone knocked her off her thrown. That’s why they’re going crazy. With a conservative such as Kavanaugh on the bench it will be even harder to move their agenda forward making them not only crazy but violent. Time to lock and load....for self-defense.

Brian said...

Biting my tongue on reacting to more hypocritical, dividing statements.

Brian said...

I do feel compelled to say this - It makes it much harder for our country to deal with such divisiveness when the tone is being set by our President. After admitting Ford was credible, why then go to a rally and start mocking her? Why is he scared to use the same respectful tone he did earlier when speaking to his base? Such actions from our leaders are a large part of the problem.

Karen O. said...

in instances such as rape then some peoples position is just like "The Handmaids Tale" and the women should be forced to have children. and it does not seem very fair but instead seems divisive to say that the left views pregnancy as an accident on the sexual liberation highway.

Jay said...

I have talked to many many people who grew up being liberal and switched to conservatism. Many were democrats who switched to being Republicans. They all say, without fail, that it was difficult and a little gut wrenching because you more or less have to realize that many of things you used to believe in were wrong. It was the same for me
I grew up in a fairly liberal minded family. I detested Ronald Reagan during his first term. It wasn’t till toward the end of his first term that I really started paying deep attention to what was going on and what was being reported.
It wasn’t easy for me, nor any of my friends who were liberals and are now conservatives, to change the GPS maps. It took a lot of reading and research and some of the research was hard for me to swallow. Since then I have read a ton of books by liberals and conservatives to try to gain insight into both paradigms. I was willing to do this because I felt like it was my duty as a citizen. But not everyone will be willing to make that commitment and there you have the great divide that we are seeing today.

Peter said...

I think this whole divisiveness issue can be mostly boiled down to the matter of "Truth". How did it get so easy to avoid the real truth? Who can we trust in this whole affair? Kavanaugh? Ford? There is a reasonable possibility that both of them are lying about parts of their stories. But all of us brush aside any lie if it supports our side and bolster our opinions that we form without the evidence of truth. We accept what we know are lies if they come from our side! I think it would be the rare person, who at least to themselves, wouldn't agree that Donald Trump has told many lies. Some people claim that Obama did the same, and if so it only strengthens the idea that this needs to STOP. Nobody's character is worth a damn if their word cannot be trusted. Why do we let this continue? Bush/Cheney? Liars. The Clintons? Liars. Aaaargh! Why lie about the dumb yearbook? Why be so PC? Tell the truth, yes you partied waaay too much, like many teens, you most likely blacked out sometimes, and are very embarrassed about lots of your attitudes towards girls and sex. I guess the risk with the truth there was leaving open the possibility that you honestly don't remember it, but it did happen. Which we all have to consider. I don't know what happened, I don't know what will happen, and I am glad it is not me that has to decide.

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

I just read the post before mine and couldn't help but be amazed at the contrasting experiences. My family comes from grandparents on both sides who were very formal and conservative. Proud, long time members of the Republican party. They were fans of Reagan, as was I in my formative years. My grandfather turned during the Bush years. I remember he hated the Oliver North fiasco, but it was the George W. Bush years, and the WMD lies, that really made him sick. But these things being the opposite of Jay's experiences, I too have spent many an hour researching and contemplating truth and all sides of our politics. So I am not sure what actually causes the divide, except our ways of taking in information and how we respond to things we think are lies, regardless of who is telling them.

Jay said...

I’m not sure what causes the divide either Peter. Maybe it comes down to what makes sense for people. I may read that Senator so and so said that he/she was in a certain situation and did a certain thing. Based on my own life experience I may think that made sense or it didn’t.
If somebody I’ve known all my life who I’ve known to be a very honest person is accused by someone else of stealing something, I’ll most likely not believe it. Somebody else who I’ve known to be a lifelong thief is accused, I might believe it. A restaurant has many bad reviews and someone says the food there is not good, I might believe it. One person says the food is great, I will likely doubt their review.
If your family has been buying Ford trucks for the last 30 years and have never had a problem but someone tells you Rord trucks breakdown all the time, you might tend to doubt it. Try to tell another family that Ford makes great trucks when they have had many problems with them and they’ll think you don’t know what you’re talking about, even though you’ve never had a problem.
As far as what goes on in DC, we are all at the mercy of the media. Most of us don’t actually know any of these people. We rely on the media to give us the information that we need to make up our own minds about what makes sense and what doesn’t.

Barbara said...

The first half of this article really spoke truth about what is going on today.. Then the author, you Tom, shows that he is a victim of the same type of thinking that occurs when one has lost his roadmap. It is not all about abortion. It is about truth.

Jay said...

I dunno Barbara. If I get my GPS out and type in “home” it’s going to take me to a certain address. If you do the same your GPS will take you to your house.
Both units were correct. Both took us to different places.
I believe a lot of what we all perceive as “the truth” is quantified by our own life experiences.

CaptDMO said...

M. Scott Peck, M.D.
"The Road Less Traveled"-1978. Brilliant
Oh, by the way.....
The Blind Men and the Elephant
Personally, I find more "answers" to controversial subject matter with Aesop (or Brothers Grimm) than I do in "the latest" from Wikipedia.