COLUMN: Polarized debate does nothing productive for our nation

Tuesday, August 17, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 12:12 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Some people have allowed politicians and talk show hosts to speak for them so long they no longer know who they are or what they stand for. I know people who claim to be Christians who are willing to believe loving one’s neighbor as one’s self is a Socialist principle. Most of us learned as children not to repeat what we heard unless we knew it to be true. Apparently, some people have forgotten that, or perhaps they never knew.

It’s becoming more and more difficult to hold a conversation with strangers. With the 24/7 news cycle, there are so many versions of the same story that you don’t know which version they believe. Consequently, after one exhausts the weather as a topic, it’s safer to keep quiet.

I’m finding I’m not efficient at negotiating the turf in a polarized society. I really don’t like to offend people, but some are so hell bent on believing their opinion is the only voice that should be heard that it’s hard to keep the discussion friendly. Many people are willing to believe anything they're told, and I find uninformed opinions annoying and a waste of time.

I really enjoy talking to people whose opinions differ from mine. I want to know all the sides of issues before I determine which side I’m on. So I’m really bothered by the hostilities people are developing toward those who disagree with them. I don’t think it is benefiting future generations when people refuse to keep their discussions civil. Bad manners are always out of place, and the lack of respect is creating a toxic environment for social discourse.

As most of us are aware, there are Americans who have never come to grips with the matter of race. Fortunately, these people appear to be in the minority, but they are making enough trouble to keep the country apart. These are the people who say they want their country back. In other words, they want the country to be in the hands of people who look and think like they do. Maybe with another election or two that could happen. In which case we’ll be thrown back into the era of racial protests, riots and people whirling racial slurs.

That’s not a place where most of us want to be. Although it's sad these people can’t adjust to living in a world with people of many races and cultures sharing equal power, we can’t stop evolving and let them off. It’s out of our hands. At this point, they will have to appeal to a higher power, or maybe a lower power would fit the bill.

With the unemployment rate, the war against health care, drug abuse, illegal immigration and the countless other problems facing us, the last thing we need in this country are hate mongers spreading their vicious tales of woe across the country. There are way too many people of color standing for this cause of racial warfare to get off the ground. And if the hate mongers think the rest of the world is looking on with a sympathetic eye, then our education system is worse off than we believe it to be.

We are extremely fortunate to have so many advantages in this country. But unless we work to strengthen our educational system and try to influence our broadcast systems to focus more programming on education, we are going to lose many of these advantages through misuse and abuse. It’s wonderful to enjoy so many freedoms, but using them to create havoc in our society is not only irresponsible, it is also irrational.

We live in a dangerous world. We need to unite in a common cause of maintaining peace at home and spreading that message among our neighbors. When you forget that all people are members of the human race, you have lost one major advantage. You have become one with the lower animals, and everyone you speak to knows it.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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Ray Shapiro August 17, 2010 | 3:56 p.m.

("These are the people who say they want their country back. In other words, they want the country to be in the hands of people who look and think like they do. Maybe with another election or two that could happen. In which case we’ll be thrown back into the era of racial protests, riots and people whirling racial slurs.")

The Tea Party movement originally provided a venue for disgruntled Democrats to share kinship with reasonable, fiscally conservative "Anti-Liberal Progressives."
Unfortunately, the Sara Palin mentality was allowed to infiltrate and sour this group's true potential. To not return to the days of Kent State or Race Riots like Watts, but to balance the run away train in Washington DC which threatens local governance by Federalizing every aspect of our life. It is not veiled threats of race riots I give importance to, I fear that the Obamaunists will thrive to Federalize our Education system and Police force. Hence, freedom of thought and expression will go wayside in America.
To divide and conquer has occurred since the beginning of time.
While I come across no folk who pine for the days of black bondage on plantations, I see a few who were there during the Kennedy years who felt a kinship during the "Civil Rights" years and now face a Progressive Liberal mentality which ignores history and fails to appreciate how far this country has come.
And while John McCain would probably have been Bush-lite, it is very disheartening to witness Barack Hussein Obama become Jimmy Carter-dark.
But then again, I should have listened to some of my Republican friends on that one.

(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 17, 2010 | 6:05 p.m.

When will this columnist stop throwing the race card on every article she writes? Disgusting!

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