Archive for Sunday, April 16, 2017

Opinion: America’s well worth fighting for

April 16, 2017

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BP has not been pleased.

Indeed, BP, who is one of my readers, has been downright disappointed with what she’s seen in this space since last year’s election. She wrote me about it a few days ago. Her email said, in part:

“I had hoped for your articles to be the beacon of light to show the way a democracy should work. Instead I am finding hopelessness and unrelenting anger at the outcome and all that has come since.

“... We need intellectuals with a balanced mind to help us go forward. No matter how much we disagree with the direction, we need to be guided the humane way, not the angered way. Anger begets anger begets irrational and hateful behaviors. We have enough of that.

“Would you consider helping guide us to be more humane instead of just angry? Journalists have the most amazing influence and I have always felt that way about your words. Please use your words to move us forward. We already know how to be angry.”

I think BP makes an important point. Here’s how I replied:

“I’ve struggled with the issues you raise since November. Frankly, I would love to be a ‘beacon of light.’ But the fact of the matter is, I don’t feel particularly hopeful and I am angry. Everything that has happened since January 20th has only reinforced my pessimism.

“I worry for the future of this country in a way I never have before. With the possible exception of the 1850s — the decade preceding the Civil War — we have simply never been this divided. Frankly, I don’t know if reconciliation is possible. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s even desirable.

“... I think honesty is something every writer — and in particular a writer of personal essays — owes a reader. I could conceivably write the kind of columns you’re asking for, but it would be a lie. And I’ve always believed that at some subliminal level, a reader always knows when he’s being lied to.”

BP wants light. But just now, all I have is resistance. And if, reading our exchange, you’re struck by my cynicism about reconciliation, you should know, for whatever it’s worth, that I’m struck by it, too.

I am, after all, the same guy who once wrote columns denouncing politicians who blithely floated the idea of secession. But that feels like a hundred years ago, before we became this Frankenstein’s monster of ill-fitting parts.

America is a story of victory over long odds, a movie where the hero smashes through in the final reel. Our national mythology holds that the worst only happens in other countries. We are spared because we are us. So it’s understandable that some of us are sanguine, even now, that we will eventually figure out how to knit those parts back into a functioning and cohesive whole.

But the 12 weeks since Jan. 20 have seen more scandal, international incidents, incompetence, instability, lies and jaw-dropping embarrassments than the previous 12 years combined. America is threatened as it has never been before. And it occurs to me that faith in inevitable salvation is a luxury we can no longer afford.

Whatever comes next, there is nothing predestined about it. If America is to be saved, it won’t be because we are us. It won’t be because some columnist wrote soothing words. It will be because enough of us decided America was worth fighting for, and did. That’s what I’ve been trying to say.

You may think it alarmist. If that turns out to be the case, I’ll be happy — indeed, relieved — to concede the point.

Meantime, I am reminded of what Aristotle said: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” That’s always been America’s saving truth.

Time for us to decide whether it still is.

— Leonard Pitts is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Miami Herald.

Comments

Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 week ago

"Frankenstein’s monster of ill-fitting parts." Wow!! About the best description I have heard yet about what has happened from the dysfunctional election. Way too many people voted their association of Mrs. Clinton with President Obama in a disgusting notion of racial hatred against the President who was painted by Trump as a non-citizen, Muslim (huh??) (and of course, black). The results of this horrible fraud (by the outdated "Electoral College") are becoming clearly apparent with the lazy, incompetent, foolish individual that flummoxed enough voters to "win" this election. Of course, we are now aware of how much use the golf courses owned by the faux "president" receive from their lazy owner.

As Pogo the possum once said...."we have met the enemy and they is us".

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 1 week ago

Great letter. How will we save our country? With greed? With "do as a say, not as I do."? Bombing other countries? Insulting our allies?

The fear generated by terrorists is eating away our country. The fear of anything "other" is destroying us. People I know who never were greedy and nasty before, have started hating the poor, hating people of other religions, hating people who aren't just like them. We have people craving a fantasy past, that never existed, and obsessed with famous people who are only famous for being rich, most who never would have been rich, except they were born to a rich family, not because they are smarter or more talented than anyone else.

We could go on by growing the true American dream, which is not money. The true American dream is to live in a diverse world where everyone is allowed to declare their religion without fear of being fired, a world where people can love any other person they want, a world where we take care of each other. Not the world we have created of celebrity worship and making rich people our royalty. Greed and fear will destroy us.

I bow to no one. I treat everyone the same. When I taught I treated the janitor and the principal with the same respect. But I will not respect anyone who lies to me or treats people like dirt. I will not respect a president who has said and done the immoral, nasty things that Trump has done. And I can't respect anyone who defends those things. Actions speak louder than words. They always have.

Bob Smith 1 week ago

"...Bombing other countries? Insulting our allies?..." You are describing the 8 years America suffered under the dog-eating tyrant.

Armen Kurdian 5 days ago

The real scandal here is that Pitts keeps getting paid to write mindless columns.

"But the 12 weeks since Jan. 20 have seen more scandal, international incidents, incompetence, instability, lies and jaw-dropping embarrassments than the previous 12 years combined."

It really takes a good solid effort to write words that are so utterly ridiculous and devoid of even one ounce of truth or intellectual honesty in a comparative fashion. I'd point out every scandal, lie, and embarrassment of the previous 8 years, but I don't have two or three months at my disposal.

You have to be worst columnist I have ever seen, you really need to stop writing, you are embarrassing yourself.

Paul Beyer 4 days, 19 hours ago

Curious. How many of the alt-right or Fox nutcases or Am radio nutcases have won a Pulitzer Prize? But then the gop and trump in particular love those, like you who are the ignorant, low educated and low IQ people, who voted for him.

Richard Heckler 4 days, 22 hours ago

The 37 year old war in the oil region is not fighting for America. It is however draining the wallets of taxpayers while increasing the wealth of the military industrial complex and those funding the 37 year old war aka Wall Street Banks.

Meanwhile.....

We arm the world terrorists ….. Dictators or Not.

http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/4120/we_arm_the_world/

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0208-05.htm

Richard Heckler 4 days, 22 hours ago

Meet PNAC:

"Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination” (Very dangerous position which threatens this nations economy, OUR freedoms,the nations security and world peace.) http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php title=Project_for_the_New_American_Century

Total global USA military domination” is a dangerous position which threatens this nations economy, OUR freedoms,the nations security and world peace.

I then question authority:

• WHY do we need to increase defense spending significantly to carry out our global protection for Wal-Mart,Oil,Coca Cola,Pepsico,diamonds,gold etc etc etc

• WHY do we need to strengthen our ties to dictator regimes friendly to American interests and Bogus values;

• WHY do we need to promote the cause of the political right wing and economic rape for corp USA abroad;

• WHY do we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in forcing others to accept our corrupt multi national principles.

Such a war mongering policy of military strength and immoral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the extortions of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness no matter how many innocent USA soldiers and innocent mothers,children and fathers abroad die.

Do I want to blindly support any of the above? NO

Strategic Errors of Monumental Proportions http://www.antiwar.com/orig/odom.php?articleid=10396

http://www.antiwar.com/orig/stockbauer1.html

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Project_for_the_New_American_Century

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1312540,00.html

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0208-05.htm

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