In school board meetings, city council meetings, and public hearings across the country – including here in Virginia – you see due process dissolved into rants, threats and arrests.
On the grounds of the university founded by Thomas Jefferson and in Charlottesville, we saw it explode in blood and death four years ago – a prelude to even more astonishing violence on the United States Capitol in an attempt failure of January 6 to stop the inauguration of the next president on the site two weeks later.
Peaceful marches to protest an overt racial injustice – the police murder in broad daylight of a black man on a Minneapolis street – have been hijacked by malicious interests that fanned violence that burned the very communities in which they lived the most oppressed.
Spread over the slick cardstock mailings and even smoother attack ads that permeate the airwaves and your online portals are bitter, sharp words – usually distortions and often outright untruths – as candidates in a governor race at a standstill end their scorched earth, to hell with the consequences campaigns.
Even in arenas where Americans retreat for the entertainment that sports bring to society’s wickedness, fans believe the tickets they bought allow them not only to watch the event, but also to intervene in the event. playing on the field, raining down bottles, batteries, cans and even golf. balls on officials and visiting teams.
Twenty-one years after the start of the 21st century, this is what we have become: the divided states of America. Yet that does not reflect how shocking and dangerous our national dysfunction has become.
We are a nation that is losing the ability to communicate and reason. We have erased our sense of common ground and shared experience and are becoming a culture of perpetually warring tribes, all easily prone to misinformation, manipulation and subversion, not just from the side. our most aggressive foreign adversaries, but also national enemies of our democratic republic, of the Constitution and the rule of law.
It has been well two decades since the 9/11 attacks galvanized America behind a unified goal – to defeat an evil rooted in an evil and murderous distortion of Islam. American troops were sent to Afghanistan and fought the country’s longest war to eradicate it, only to retreat into chaos, death and grief two months ago as the agents of darkness themselves they sought to eradicate reaffirmed their absolute reign Most of the night.
All we have to show for these 20 years of lost American treasure, blood and life is a deeper political divide at home. Our protracted failure loomed over the recent 20th anniversary of 9/11, as thick hails of acrid, poisonous smoke that poured from the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and a crater carved into a Pennsylvania prairie this heartbreaking morning.
But now, when we look for the enemy, we see each other more and more.
It crept gradually and insidiously upon us, with each new outrage that we internalize, rationalize and ultimately accept as an ever weaker ânew normalâ.
We ignore the warning signs. And they are many.
Here in Virginia, Loudoun County School Board meetings have become national news. For most of this year, parents and board members have challenged the district’s toilet and locker room policies for trans students, especially after reports of a sexual assault on a woman. girl in the toilet. They also angrily rejected what they say is the teaching of “critical race theoryâ, A doctrine that systemic racism has always permeated American institutions and something the district says is not and never was on its curriculum. Meetings start out like matches and get worse from there, leading at one point to an arrest and spectators being allowed. A board member recently resigned in the midst of the long-standing conflict.
At the national level, the The FBI has mobilized Investigate violent threats made against school board members in similar confrontational contexts, many of which are prompted by critical race theory and the pandemic-inspired student hiding mandates.
Memories of violent August 2017 Uniting the Right The riot that resulted in the deaths of a bystander and two Virginia State Police officers monitoring the unrest from a helicopter remains fresh. The night before the bloody clash in the downtown Charlottesville mall, columns of neo-Nazis and white supremacists carrying tiki torches marched across the University of Virginia campus, surrounding students and shouting “”You will not replace us!“And Hitler’s war cry,”Blood and dirt!“
In January, related forces, urged by President Donald Trump to march to Capitol Hill and “fight like hellâAfter his comedic consigliere Rudy Giuliani urgedâ trial through combat, âwere part of a mob that invaded Capitol Hill to overturn an election Trump falsely claimed was stolen from him. They stormed the seat of our democratically elected republic in an attempt to scuttle the constitutional process that would make Joe Biden the next rightful president. Although the insurgency failed, the invaders ransacked and looted the offices of Congress, spread their excrement on the walls, and did something that four years of civil war never achieved: a Confederate flag parading through the Capitol.
As the police kill George floyd Sparking international protests against injustice to black Americans, the fault lines appeared clearly on Monument Avenue in Richmond, then punctuated with showy bronze monuments to Confederate leaders. Amid peaceful daily protests, sinister provocateurs ignited an already angry situation. A truck was pushed into the protesters. A bus was set on fire in the city center. Minority companies were vandalized and looted. The police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray not only on the protesters, but also journalists covering the troubles. Brutality has cost police chief his job.
The closer this fall’s gubernatorial race draws, the more the communications from the candidates – former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin – are mean and less attached to the truth. And the same goes for discounted ticket races. âWrong about vaccinesâ¦ completely wrong for Virginia,â said the grim voiceover in a campaign television commercial for a candidate for the House of Delegates. Its sinister tone is omnipresent, not only live, but in our postal mail and your social media feeds.
Two Saturdays ago actionable unrest erupted among a sold-out college football crowd of over 100,000 in Knoxville, Tennessee.
After the Tennessee hometown volunteers found themselves within a yard of a first down on a desperate fourth attempt with less than a minute to go and officials handed the ball over to the visiting Mississippi rebels, the projectiles rained on the visitors bench, forcing players and coaches out into midfield, out of reach of most water bottles, beer cans, vape pens, small batteries, golf course and even a bottle of mustard that pelted the grass. Officials suspended the game for nearly 20 minutes – more than half time – as the shootout continued. Marching bands and cheerleaders from both schools were evacuated, some of them using notice boards to protect your head as they rushed towards the tunnels.
Full disclosure here: I’m not just a former Ole Miss student, I’m a former gamer. Long ago, in hostile SEC locations, I dodged an occasional ice cube, a small battery or two and once, after a rash at LSU’s Tiger Stadium in 1976, an empty bottle of Jack Daniel’s was thrown in inexpensive seats (which, think about it, maybe from one of our own fans). Admittedly, visiting teams have sometimes suffered similar mistreatment in our home arenas. It is wrong in any case. However, the display of hooliganism to the degree and duration that millions of people have seen live from Rocky Top should be a wake-up call. When the spectators en masse presuming the right to physically interfere in the game, our sport-loving country has lost the balm of sport as we know it.
Has everything gone too far? What would it take to change things? Another 9/11 type act of war from a foreign enemy who refocuses our collective rage outward rather than inward?
It’s a hell of a price to pay just for us to see each other again as fellow Americans, to focus on the immensity of what we agree on rather than dwell on the little annoyances that divide us.
But perhaps the most timely question at the merciful end of yet another socially corrosive election in Virginia is not whether we can find a sense or a community, it is even if we want to To.