Our country has been divided along the same ideological lines since its inception: Rural versus urban; religious versus secular; hawk versus dove; conservative versus liberal; coyote versus roadrunner, yet this time around, the divisions feel more desperate.

First it was our national healthcare and infectious disease experts who warned of the impending, then unfolding disaster of COVID. Sharing the truth ran counter to what many people had heard on talk radio or saw on social media and Fox News. They and their families’ safety was sadly—and predictably—threatened.

Then it was state, local, and county healthcare experts who were threatened. Inevitably, it became ICU doctors and nurses who were subject to abuse from patients who still think COVID is a hoax and who refuse vaccines.

Now this news, made even more pertinent by the Facebook whistleblower’s revelations that the company which seeks more and longer engagement from its users, knows full well that anger is the most rewarding emotion for them. It makes people comment and share, and pushes to them the kind of content that keeps their anger fresh. ABC News is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security is on heightened alert for domestic terror against the healthcare system and its operators. They say that Russia, China, and Iran have jumped into social media to continue to aggravate an already tense situation by amplifying the onslaught of mis–and dis-information that keeps Covid deniers and anti-vaxxers aggravated, tense, and ready to pounce.

As the rules of travel evolved to include masks, flight attendants were assailed and accosted. According to Newsweek, the FAA says incidents on board aircraft rose from 146 in 2019 to 3420 in the first six months of 2021 alone.

Next it was school board trustees, who, one infers, are only trying to make school safe for students, teachers, and staff. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered FBI Director Christopher Wray to work with local law enforcement to address the “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against educators.

Regarding immigration, we’ve always been wary and unwelcoming of the other—whether from Central America and South Asia today, or Ireland, Italy, and China in the past. After years of harassment, each of those groups assimilated into American culture. It’s no wonder Winston Churchill acerbically noted that, “The Americans always do the right thing…after they’ve tried everything else.”

Now, it’s not just immigrants being threatened. Recently, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema was lecturing on campus at ASU when protestors followed her into the bathroom, their cameras rolling. Incivility is the order of the day.

Media continues to be the most convenient whipping boy. As regular readers know, I’m no fan of most of the media, but neither am I interested in scapegoating. Mark Zuckerberg, the fabulously wealthy CEO of Facebook, says that the media is responsible for supplying air to the FB whistleblower, and that everything’s fine up there in Silicon Valley. Mike Pence speaking on Fox News, blamed the media for overblowing the Jan. 6 insurrection. He said, I kid you not, that the 74 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump were completely behind the insurrectionists at the Capitol in January. Think about that against the backdrop of rioters beating police officers with the poles of American flags, while chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” Everyone wants FB to fix this mess, but I think it’s gotten away from them, and that they couldn’t fix it if they tried.

Selfishness and ignorance fuel the fire, feeding off of each other. The mentality is “I don’t like those rules, therefore they must be wrong and I will not obey them. In fact, I’ll actively fight against them. I’ll try to subvert them by spreading falsehoods about them, and I’ll physically threaten those who try to communicate or enforce them.”

Republicans, formerly the party of business, have broken with corporate America because many companies want vaccine mandates from government, giving them cover, and distancing them from complaining workers. The companies know that to return to anything like pre-pandemic norms, we need a vaccinated population. Even Trump can’t convince them: rally-goers booed him when he said, “Get the shot.” Maybe irony isn’t dead.

Equally disturbing is the gridlocked Senate. Republicans are hell-bent on not allowing President Biden to get anything done, and Democrats, characteristically, are arguing among themselves. Meanwhile, the nation’s business is stalled. “The Party of Business”—Republicans, doesn’t want to give Biden a win, and the “Party of the People”—Democrats, can’t cobble together anything they all agree on, meaning they’ll likely waste their majority.

It’s hard to feel sorry for big-business because they piled onto the partisan ugliness for decades, only to lose control to the Trump faction that now has them standing out in the cold.

We remain a nation divided.

©2021 Jon Sinton

(1) comment

BonnieMarieK

The division is just agitation. Everyone wants the same the. Safety, security, prosperity. Never forget that everything else is a distraction.

Nobody prospers and rises above their station under socialist policies.

Nobody will prosper as Big Tech spies on you, markets at you, knowing all your thoughts and your bank account balance, and they will get better and better at dragging every penny out of you.

Machine learning AIs are now watching you through your cameras, listening to your microphones and uploading it to marketing firms, who then sell it to intelligence agencies all over the world.

Right v Left is a distraction. The corporate totalitarian state is your enemy and it's just about won.

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