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Using history & associations to drag down others in raging media currents
Dennis Wyatt
Dennis Wyatt

I don’t think anyone thinks about the politics of whomever donated white blood cells coursing through the veins of a love one that is battling cancer.

Nor do we ask someone where they stand on the issue du jour before we accept a human gesture such as someone holding a door open for us.

In both cases those who give of themselves are almost always strangers.

So why do we treat strangers who we disagree with politically as if they are subhuman vile scum?

There has always been coarse political discourse. However it was never on such a wanton, widespread 24/7 non-stop basis as it is today.

Blame it on social media if you are so inclined but it is only a vessel. Those who pound keyboards, get in the faces of others, or hijack and exploit symbols to essentially try to demonize and marginalize others are the problem.

You cannot blame this on whatever political figure or party you prefer to demonize as they are ample examples on both sides of the aisle of unbecoming conduct or uncivilized behavior. And if you fail or opt not to see that fighting fire with fire might purify things for you but it also leaves a scorched political landscape with scars that sometimes never heal while transforming beauty into smoldering ugliness unless, of course, you’re the type that feeds on death and darkness.

Guilt by association is gaining growing acceptance these days if indeed it ever went away.

Take the issue of slavery, a practice regardless of whatever the purpose is pure evil. 

How do you separate the descendants of those in America today who held slaves from those who didn’t and perhaps even had those in their family tree that died fighting against the practice? Do all Latinos that have Aztec blood bear responsibility for Aztecan slavery? Should all blacks with bloodlines traced to African civilizations and tribes that held slaves be held responsible today for the actions of their forefathers? How do we view Asians and Pacific-Islanders who are generations removed from slaveholders? And, as some politicians today eager to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, do we hold those who are Caucasian financially responsible if none of their descendants ever held slaves in this country or if their forefathers arrived on these shores year after slavery was ended?

And how long do we keep not simply playing the blame game but painting everyone with the broad guilt by association brush? Yes the Republican Party may have been the driving force behind the 13th Amendment but there were also Republicans as well as Democrats that helped or allowed Jim Crow laws to take hold and grow.

It is true there were prominent Democrats that briefly held membership in the KKK but does that make everyone who is a Democrat today guilty by historic association? It is absurd as saying all public officials in the 1970s and for the following four decades in Skokie, Illinois — a town on the northern edge of Chicago that has a majority Jewish population — were racists because neo-Nazi rallies were allowed there under Supreme Court decisions regarding the First Amendment and the right to assemble. It is in the same vein of demonizing that assumes Manteca civic leaders in 1971 and those in office for the next four decades were somehow racists because they complied with Supreme Court rulings about the right to assembly that gave them no choice but to allow a KKK rally on public space in Manteca?

The easiest thing to do is to find all sorts of reasons to vilify those who think, dress, look, speak, act, and worship differently than you do including delving into past behavior on a very selective basis.

Should we degrade and marginalize 1.2 billion Catholics based on the behavior of an extremely small part of those Catholics who are priests that are sexual predators?

All Catholics by far are not pedophiles simply because some priests are. And all Catholics by far are not homophobic given one of the largest outreach effort to AIDS sufferers on the planet are endeavors of the Catholic Church.

It is much harder for us to hold our own-selves accountable to do the right thing than it is slipping into being self-righteous and to look down on others that don’t mirror our actions and thinking?

It’s much easier to join a clique and make life hell for a new kid at school that is an introvert, speaks with a lisp, wears dirty clothes, and looks different than it is to try and be friends.

We all spend way too much time in our comfort zones.

We only read opinions by those we agree with and demand that all other views be banished from the public square by boycotting firms that may advertise on social media platforms not because what we object to is blatantly “phobic” per se but because we deem it to be so.

We ridicule and demonize those that are different on the foolish assumption by intimidating them into silence that somehow we are making the world a better place.

Of course when they don’t go quietly we engage in all out screaming matches — verbally or via social media — escalating the rhetoric. Then when someone on the fringe of either side goes off the deep end and does a despicable act we shake our heads and then start blaming it all of the end result of civil discourse we disagree with and not once stopping to think how we may have elevated tensions.

No one is saying anyone should tip toe around the issues. But because you don’t like a leader who is Democrat or one who is Republican doesn’t justify lumping everyone together who proclaims to be one or the other. And if you think doing so is going to change their minds or help them see the err of their ways from your perspective you are naive, delusional or more than likely simply lazy, impatient, or perhaps intolerant.

“Having” a child is one thing. “Raising” a child is another. It takes a lot of work, patience, and tolerance to raise a child and sometimes the results may be less than stellar.

The same holds true for growing a stronger community or nation.

If we don’t seek to engage others and work with them while accepting what we perceive are to be flaws as we move forward trying to reach whatever goal we are striving toward then we are doomed to be hamsters running for eternity on hamster wheels expending a lot of energy running nowhere while chasing a dream that is elusive because of the baggage we carry and the baggage we perceive others to carry.

I do not care one iota about the politics, the skin tone, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or personal history about whoever benefits from the 24 times a year I spend the better part of three hours with needles stuck in both elbows while a Red Cross phlebotomist withdraws platelets to help those who are battling leukemia, chronic diseases, cancer, or traumatic injuries.

It do so not because I’m a saint. I do it because I am a flawed being we call human with the hope that somehow what I am doing will make the world a better place for at least one other person.

That is what we should strive to do when we engage in political or policy exchanges. The goal shouldn’t be to win per se, prove ourselves right, or to plummet our foes. It should be to make the world a bit better.

And we can’t do that when we spend most of our energy focused on tearing down others or taking bits of the past or the sins of others in whatever grouping you put people in and then chain it to their necks before tossing them into the raging river of media — whether it is social media on the Internet or what we now refer to as old school media — and let the current of instantaneous public denunciation drag them down.

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.