Take this good, wholesome Christian woman:
And then tell her that the President might be coming to Gettysburg:
As you can see, some people really get all sorts of bent out of shape about politics. Even when the President is not coming to Gettysburg, people react like this:
And that’s only the very tip of the iceberg. There’s a Facebook page for the US Representative in my district, and people there get just as nuts, if not more. You have everything from the people who claim that the President is a Kenyan Muslim sleeper agent to people who really believe that Republicans are trying to institute a New World Order. “Nuts” doesn’t begin to describe it sometimes.
What’s even more nuts is that my representative, Scott Perry, has openly threatened to delete or otherwise censor comments on Facebook that he (or, frankly, his staff) deems offensive or undesirable. That gets me all sorts of worked up because Facebook is an open forum akin to a public square. Sure, it’s digital, and somewhat anonymous if people are using pseudonyms, but it’s still an open space where ideas can be shared. To delete comments is just like shutting up people and not allowing them to speak. It’s very, very un-American.
Last, but not least, an update from my most recent “fan”:
@Cumberland912 Here’s another: No country w/open borders & liberal welfare has ever survived the barbarian hoards who overran them.
— connie bierzonski (@cbierzonski) October 25, 2013
Her tweets get more and more racist as time goes on. For her, immigrants are “barbarian hoards” and other choice comments. She claims that she lives in the heads of “Liberal Progressives” because people comment on how ridiculous she sounds, how unhinged she seems to be. Who’s living in whose head?
Me? I try to keep some semblance of rationality when I discuss politics. It’s hard. Sometimes people say the stupidest things, people on either side of the political spectrum. Democrats say that Republicans are racist, money hungry capitalists, while Republicans say that Democrats are bleeding heart liberals who would kill every unborn fetus if given a chance. For some, there is no happy medium.
For me, there is. But it’s hard for me to stay in the middle when talking to people who are on the extremes. I find myself gravitating to the other extreme to keep some sort of balance in the discussion. Just the other day, students at my school started complaining that there wasn’t enough vegetarian and gluten-free food for them. I just rolled my eyes and thought of all the people in the world who don’t get to make that choice. Does that make me a Liberal Progressive?
Then I had a discussion on the housing developments in Baltimore, and the person discussing it with me was telling me all about how hopeless and desperate and helpless the people in those dilapidated row houses were. When I pointed out to him that a lot of them seem able-bodied enough to get jobs, it was almost as if I had called upon satan himself. He might as well have crossed himself, the way he looked at me.
Talking politics shouldn’t be a matter of madness and yelling past each other without reaching any kind of conclusion. It shouldn’t be about people on the right abandoning social safety nets because people should be able to make it on their own, or about people on the left requiring that the government intervene in every single one of our problems. But it is. And it’s sad.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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