I read with keen interest the two differing opinions expressed by Steve Seats and Jim Hofmann in consecutive Moab Sun News editions of “The View” regarding the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) action taken a few weeks ago. The striking dichotomy of the two approaches to the same subject seems typical of a divisive trend permeating throughout America’s journalistic and social fabric.
Mr. Seats’ column described the ICE raids with words and phrases such as “many reasons … to despise the federal government,” “ICE descended … and abducted,” and “Trump administration’s blatant xenophobia and thinly veiled racism.” And that was in just the first two paragraphs. He continued with rancorous hyperbole and ultimately expressed he will no longer “stand for the anthem or pledge allegiance to a flag or nation that now stands in disgrace.” All of that just because the federal government had the audacity to enforce immigration laws that have been on the books for decades.
Mr. Hofmann’s article, on the other hand, referenced Margaret Thatcher and quoted Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, the former who conflated the ideals of Americanism with “a matter of the spirit and the soul,” and if one is “heartily and singly loyal to this Republic, then no matter where he was born, he is just as good an American as anyone else.” That sentiment, of course, implies one first becomes a citizen based on the rule of law, and forgoes, as Roosevelt said, “by his actions that he is primarily the citizen of a foreign land.” Roosevelt understood that Americans expected — if you desired American citizenship — to be prepared to assimilate to your best ability.
Drawing a comparative basis between the two columns is not meant to disrespect or impugn Mr. Seats’ heartfelt opinion or deeply held ideals, nor to heap praise upon Mr. Hofmann for his references to American presidents; rather, it is intended to illustrate how current rhetoric plumbs the depths of public opinion and, either intentional or otherwise, sows seeds of division and discord among ourselves.
This is an important national issue, because no matter the medium, whether it be the internet, radio, newspapers, television, social media, or at venues such as college campuses across the country, a chorus of vitriol from extreme (and sometimes militant) political and social voices are drowning out America’s vast middle class. It feels like an attempt to disseminate and assert unpopular opinions on what many consider the fabric of America.
This is being facilitated not just by academia, journalists, activists and media outlets, nor can the blame be laid solely on their doorsteps, because many simply reflect the current self-aggrandizing politics emanating from America’s elected class. This professional crop of elitist politicians has encouraged society’s downward spiral into debased dialogue by abandoning honest debate and respectful discourse and imposing ideals that often leave the middle class feeling adrift and voiceless.
Many wonder how the American dream and improvements to society can evolve when constructive debate frequently devolves into overwrought shouting conducted across seemingly unbridgeable chasms.
Nowhere was this more evident than during the Senate confirmation hearings on Brett Kavanaugh to become a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.
America eagerly anticipated the week-long confirmation hearing, expecting lofty discussions on the fascinating merits of our Constitution and substantive debate on Kavanaugh’s perspective on arguably the world’s most significant document. But instead of being enlightened with civic and legal lessons or learning of the world-altering historical aspect of the Constitution, viewers were treated to petulant, self-serving Democrats intent only on scuttling President Trump’s nominee. Republicans, in turn, spent their time asking softball questions designed to blunt the Democrat’s attacks and delved little into Kavanaugh’s extensive judicial record of over 300-authored opinions. If this is the world’s greatest deliberative body, then we have much to fear as a country.
Then, just when viewers thought the hearing couldn’t get any more inept — it did.
Democrats on the confirmation committee hit rock bottom (and started to dig) when sexual abuse allegations against Kavanaugh arose literally at the last minute, and they clamored on cue for delays in voting the process forward. That would have been a proper course of action, had not the salacious accusation been known for six weeks and held secretly in reserve for precisely the right moment for maximum destructive impact.
What followed was a craven display of political machinations that should alarm any American regardless of political affiliation. To a person, the committee Democrats proclaimed their belief in the accusation, even though the purported witnesses to the event claimed it never happened. Centuries of Western jurisprudence and the presumption of innocence was ignored in exchange for political expediency in achieving a partisan goal.
It’s no wonder that local and national dialogues achieve so little, considering the examples set by our elected representatives. It’s past time for that to change.
Warren Scott lives in Castle Valley.