We Must Talk

November 2nd, 2017

You’re the odd one out on somebody’s list.

Whether you’re left of Lenin or right of Genghis Kahn, you’re probably on some email list of exact opposites from you … some group of like-minded devotees who think you’re out of your mind and need to be if not enlightened, certainly corrected. They do this by citing and sharing stories and columns and comments and facts that have two things in common: one, they are Kool-Aid to the list, and two, they’re completely made up. Snopes and fact checking in general be damned.

But even among their own, sometimes enough is enough.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, November 3, 2017, and in The Memphis News, November 4-10, 2017

Lemmings Save One


Tom (R) and I (D) had an email conversation recently. Remember when conversation between those who differ was possible?

We met through friends – his, not mine – mostly college classmates sharing links to conservative columnists who support their views. Most of those columns aren’t real and their false attribution is for credibility where none exists. This is only one such list among legion, right and left.

You might say Charles Krauthammer and a link to a column he never wrote introduced us. Here’s some of that conversation.

Tom: “When people want so much to believe something, they will readily accept as truth any falsehood that confirms their political leanings. It is very easy to fact-check pretty much anything, but most folks don’t do that, nor do they want to be told that they have been gulled. When I read it, it just didn’t look to me like it was an authentic Krauthammer, so I decided to see if I could find out if it was. I have read and liked CK for years. TruthOrFiction.com says that not only did he not write it, but that the New York Post did not print it.”

Me: “This list doesn’t care whether references are real, only that their views are supported. Sounds downright presidential.”

Tom: “What is shocking is how Trump is tearing our country apart. I know in my heart that all those Republicans in Congress see very clearly what Trump is, but are willing to do nothing about it. I have been a center-right Republican all my life, but the current GOP is nothing like the party of Reagan or Bush 41. I’m done with them until and unless they reject Trumpism.”

Me: “I know in my heart that what you say is true but I can’t get any of my Republican friends to admit it. Their knee-jerk reaction is always defensive and has the word Hillary in it somewhere. I didn’t like her either but we shouldn’t sell our national soul because the Democrats failed to offer an inspirational candidate. We’ve sold ourselves cheap and dirty. Trump is a genuine threat, not because of the empty shell of a human being that he is but because of what he empowers. Just look what he’s done to your party and our shared friends. I’m a center-left Democrat who has voted for Republicans in the past. If people like you and I can no longer talk to each other or even to those who we thought shared our values, if we continue to base what we do on the lesser of evils than the greater good, on the worst in us than the best, on satisfying greed than meeting need, then this American experiment could explode in a sulfurous mushroom cloud of cynicism, denial, deceit, bigotry, misogyny, and self-righteous self-interest.

“Those nasty things have always been in our national petri dish, but until now they weren’t how we chose to define our culture.”

I’m a Memphian, and we must talk about that. Now.


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