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Archive for September 22nd, 2019

…We are in a political moment where we find ourselves on opposite sides of what feels like an unbreachable gulf.  I find myself annoyed by the hand-wringing about how we need to find common ground.  People ask how might we “meet in the middle,” as though this represents a safe, neutral and civilized space.  This American fetishization of the moral middle is a misguided and dangerous cultural impulse.
The middle is a point equidistant from two poles.  That’s it.  There is nothing inherently virtuous about being neither here nor there.  Buried in this is a false equivalency of ideas, what you might call the “good people on both sides” phenomenon.  When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle?  Rather than chattel slavery, perhaps we could agree on a nice program of indentured servitude?  Instead of subjecting Japanese-American citizens to indefinite detention during WW II, what if we had agreed to give them actual sentences and perhaps provided a receipt for them to reclaim their things when they were released?  What is halfway between moral and immoral?
When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle?
The search for the middle is rooted in conflict avoidance and denial.  For many Americans it is painful to understand that there are citizens of our community who are deeply racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic.  Certainly, they reason, this current moment is somehow a complicated misunderstanding.  Perhaps there is some way to look at this – a view from the middle – that would allow us to communicate and realize that our national identity is the tie that will bind us comfortably, and with a bow.  The headlines that lament a “divided” America suggest that the fact that we can’t all get along is more significant than the issues over which we are sparring.
Many people understand politics as merely a matter of rhetoric and ideas.  Some people will experience wars only in news snippets, while the poor and working class that make up most of our volunteer army will wage war, and still others far and not so far away will have war waged upon them.  For the people directly affected, the culture war is a real war too.  They know there is no safety in the in-between.  The romance of the middle can exist when one’s empathy is aligned with the people expressing opinions on policy or culture rather than with those who will be affected by these policies or cultural norms.  Buried in this argument, whether we realize it or not, is the fact that these policies change people’s lives.
As Americans, we are at a crossroads.  We have to decide what is central to our identity: Is the importance of our performance of national unity more significant than our core values?  Is it more meaningful that we understand why some of us support the separation of children from their parents, or is it more crucial that we support the reunification of these families?  Is it more essential that we comprehend the motives of white nationalists, or is it more urgent that we prevent them from terrorizing communities of color and those who oppose racism?  Should we agree to disagree about the murder and dismemberment of a journalist?  Should we celebrate our tolerance and civility as we stanch the wounds of the world and the climate with a poultice of national unity?
For the people directly affected, the culture war is a real war too.
  —  Tayari Jones
Excerpts from her Opinion / Editorial: “The Myth Of The Moral Middle
Appearing in: Time Magazine, dtd: 5 November 2018
Online at:  https://time.com/5434381/tayari-jones-moral-middle-myth/
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On This Day In:
2018 Schedule, Please
2017 No Hope For #DumbDonald
2016 Do Something
2015 What Are You Making Now?
2014 Like Fire Burning In My Heart
2013 Oh Yes He Can!
2012 Enquiries
2011 The Prize: Understanding
2010 Can You Tell My Scanner Works?
Rebecca – The Early Years
James – The Early Years
Brothers By Another Mother

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