Recently, a classmate sadly compared the era during which we were raised and the coarseness of today’s national rhetoric. He contrasted the civility at home, school, and public life discourse at that time, with the torrent of coarse, defamatory, and divisive discourse we endure today.
I certainly agreed with basics of his comparison. Today’s national discourse is coarse, biting, and often, salacious and profane. The overall tenor is shrill, hysterical, and emotionally confrontational. The days of “…with all due respect…” are over.
However, I did take respectful exception to the observation… “That we now must endure the cesspool emanating from the White House saddens me deeply. Everything I hold dear: democracy, environment, and civility are threatened.”
He is correct in noting that democracy, environment and civility are threatened. And, too frequently, White House communications, especially Tweets, veer into incivility.
However, I questioned the use of “emanates” to infer that the White House is The source of incivility. That inference is inaccurate.
While some of the communications from the White House do rise to the level of incivility, they – sadly, to be sure – reflect the emotions and struggles of that national ideological Civil War now underway that is reaching its Gettysburg moment in our history.
An existential battle is now underway for the constitutional and ideological soul of our Democratic Republic. That has led to the hateful torrent of incivility and accusation pouring from our media. Words and discourse have been weaponized, the media have become the message largely used by those advocating national chaos and discord.
Their message summed up is that government control of everything is what’s best for the American people.
Years ago, one of my church crowd was dating a boy a few years older who had just bought a pink-and-cream 1955 Crown Victoria two-door sedan — “sparkler.” Right after church on a summer evening then turning to twilight, we were invited to pile in to his car for a ride to “Sing-spiration.” We were barely in, me on the passenger outside along with three others plus the driver, when he floored it, and peeled out down Pearl Street heading straight for Trout River.
He was still in second when we passed Jimmy Lowery’s house approaching Trout River Park. Time seemed to stand still – or at least “pass in front of our eyes” – as we roared down the hill toward the river – and the dock.
At the last possible instant he jammed on the brakes and threw the steering wheel hard over trying to claw our way back onto the road and make it safely onto 69th St. As the front seat passengers weight piled onto me I found myself literally partially forced out the passenger door window. I could look down as well as hear the tires throwing up stones and shells as they dug in to hold the car on the road. “…listening to the sounds of nature where land meets water in a truly pastoral setting…waves lapping at the shore (just below my bugged out eyes), squawling tires being tortured to death at much too young an age, the driver now yelling curses at the speed gods, and the piercing screams of the terrified teenagers in the back seat.”
We made it, barely. I know some of us sang those hymns of rejoicing with extra fervor that night.
The existential battle for the constitutional soul of our Democratic Republic to which I referred earlier is roughly analogous to that car and its occupants trying to avoid forces that will take them into the chaos and spirit-deadening nihilism of ultimate government control over the way we think, the way we act, what we can believe, and what we can dream. These outcomes are not our suppositions, but based on the statements and claims of far too many politicians.
The 2016 election, when uncommon Americans reaffirmed their fundamental belief in our traditional American values and freedoms, was the equivalent of a last minute reprieve. The national car, tires squawling and “on two wheels,” narrowly avoided the abyss – much to the surprise of those who had done everything they could to rig the outcome and to ensure the victory that is needed by those craving ultimate control over us in order to close the doors on our basic freedoms and the American Dream.
The current incivility has its roots in the attempt by those who thought they were America’s elite and were empowered to decide what’s best for all of us, to use a variety of fallacious reasonings and communications to undermine, disenfranchise, and delegitimize the ever more successful current Administration.
The number and range of fallacious reasonings one hears repeated across 85% of the so-called main stream news media, is astonishing. Regularly we are treated to so-called “reasonings” which argue from various fallacious standpoints, including: ignorance, repetition, verbosity, shifting the burden of proof, false dilemma, fallacy of many questions, incomplete comparison, and most recently, a reversal of a venerated and tested English and American common law principle that the burden of proof is on the person who makes the claim.
I’ve taken too long to underscore the importance of precise and accurate reasoning based on facts and not fallacious reasoning when assessing and deciding our Nation’s future.
Incivility, however distasteful, should not be a criterion we use to assess and evaluate the outcomes and results that together will become our beloved nation’s future.
I hope we can agree that Democracy, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Thought, Freedom of Dreams, and Freedom of Aspirations, are fundamental to America’s core values. They have been the bedrock of her success as a Nation to this day. These soul-nurturing values are what we stood for, worked for, and served her for, for so many years of our lives.
Envisioning the national results and outputs sought by a growing chorus of shrill – yes, and especially uncivil – extremists, America could hardly be called a democracy any longer. Open borders. Feeble and fettered law enforcement. Crushing taxes. Suffocating regulation. These are anathema to Freedom.
As a nation, we are still screeching around that future-defining corner, the car teetering on the edge of the pavement and in danger of veering off the road of Freedom and Opportunity, and into the suffocating waters of sweeping government regulation, government control of information and therefore what we think, and blighted personal opportunity except for those chosen to be the new elites.
Remembering that the fundamental definition of “civil” relates to ordinary citizens and their concerns, should we fail to protect and nurture our government of the People, by the People, and for the People, that would become, by orders of magnitude, the most uncivil outcome of all.
© Copyright 2018 BelleAire Press
Other works by Dr. Connors…
Now Available As E-Pub
Baited Trap, The Ambush of Mission 1890 is the story of helicopter rescue Mission 1890, one of the most heroic—and costly—air rescues of the Korean War. This harrowing Air Force-Navy mission is explained in compelling detail, creating a detailed personal account of what five incredibly brave and determined Air Force and Navy airmen achieved on June 25, 1952 in the infamous “Iron Triangle.”
The Korean War’s Greatest Love Story
Baited Trap is much more than a heroic war story from the “forgotten war.” It is also the Korean War’s greatest love story, following Wayne and Della Lear, Bobby Holloway, Ron Eaton and Dolly Sharp, and Frankie and Archie Connors as they tried to put their lives and families together even as the Korean War was reaching out to engulf them.
Truckbusters From Dogpatch: the Combat Diary of the 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing in the Korean War, 1950-1953
Truckbusters from Dogpatch is the most comprehensive Korean War unit history yet prepared–over 700 pages summarizing squadron histories and first person accounts—and includes over 1,000 never before published photographs and images, highlighted by the 8 ½ x 11-inch format.
Arguably, Truckbusters From Dogpatch is the most authoritative unit history ever prepared on the Korean War. In addition to consulting formerly classified squadron histories filed monthly throughout the conflict, the author was in touch with hundreds of veterans of the 18th—pilots and ground crew—whose personal recollections add vivid detail and emotion to the facts recounted in the official documents.
Recent Log Entries by CAPT Connors…
After reading these Night Orders you can better appreciate what training, attention to duty, and vigilance was required by underway watchstanders in those days. What has changed since then that has resulted in the recent tragic collisions between U.S. Navy ships and other vessels?
Saipan CO, CAPT Jack Renard, was not exaggerating when he noted that “without exception, SAIPAN is the most versatile instrument of peace or war on the seas today.” Like its motto pointed out, SAIPAN could do it all.
I had never taken the ship (aircraft carrier F. D. ROOSEVELT) through the Straits before as the OOD. Now I was expected to do so while the rest of the ship—including the Captain—was fast asleep.
The reliance today by U.S. Navy afloat units on satellites and highly complex electronics, all of which are vulnerable to compromise or destruction by an enemy, can also leave us highly vulnerable, particularly if our ships and Surface Warfare Officers are not trained in more traditional methods of navigation and seamanship.
Losing satellites could badly compromise or eliminate satellite navigation. Funny, I trusted the star fixes, but the GPS readings that came later, were suspect. As this Log Entry points out, satellites are vulnerable. They can be hacked or “taken out” in a variety of ways.
But with training, a sextant, the right tables and a handful of stars or a noon day sun, the cosmos will tell you where you are on planet Earth.
The watch team cheered, we even heard cheering from PriFly aft of our level. The Captain was happy, the bridge watch team was ecstatic. The Russians on our tail? Not so much! Main Control had “gotten into the War,” and I wrote in the ROOSEVELT’s deck log: “Blew tubes at 1430.”
“Not that I can think of,” I replied, then added the required legal response: “I relieve you Sir.”
The fateful words are spoken. From this point on, anything that happens on this watch will be my responsibility.
“Very well, I stand relieved. Quartermaster, LTJG Connors has the deck,” the now off-watch OOD announced to the Watch Team.