By: Jerome Danner
How despairing it is to hear of news that one lost their life, possibly, due to the lack of understanding of the importance of civil discourse. When protests take place over matters that typically cause some persons to emote in anger and display outrageous behavior, it may be important, for the sake of keeping the peace, to confront the ideology of the protest at another time and space. It is essential to civility that things are not done violently, but in a calm and thoughtful manner, which should be quite dissimilar to how the protestor may be operating.
Of course, this was not the modus operandi of those persons for white nationalism, nor their counterparts responding to the protest of the nationalist with an unproductive protest of their own. From last night's rally with torches to today's march, neither side can state with overwhelming confidence that they left the chaotic scene in Charlottesville with a victory.
Then, as if the story could not get even more tragic, we hear of the death of a young lady in the midst of today's proceedings. It is good to discover that the individual driving the automobile that caused this young lady's fatal end has apparently been caught by law enforcement. Yes, finding out about this person's apprehension does bring some slight gratification, albeit briefly. Why not rest in the comfort that he is off the streets? Well, firstly, it will not bring this young lady's family any immediate solace when they find out, which should remind us that we would hate to be in their position. Also, it appears that a solution to how American individuals should conduct themselves when debating an issue still needs to be discovered or accepted. We, as a people, not just white supremacists and/or Antifa, should encourage more cordial dialogue and nonviolent tactics to engaging one another over the issues that we disagree over.
Think about it: what did either side gain in the rally or countering it last night or today? Is it possible that anyone left thinking differently about their position? Could it be that those initially against white nationalism left thinking that maybe they should think deeper about it? Were there any individuals going back home accepting white nationalism as their view and wanted to find a way to join them in their future protests? Or how about any white nationalists that you heard about leaving and now thinking that their view is no longer plausible? Highly doubtful! Why? None of these scenarios could ever really happen now or ever because it takes talking to a person (with your indoor voice) and sharing with them your thoughts and ideas. Open-minded individual with open-minded individual pondering over a plethora of ideologies and desiring to get at the truth of the matter. In getting to the truth, both persons or a group of persons must apply logic to their assumptions and arguments.
Unfortunately, it seems that up until today (and possibly tomorrow) we have allowed or encouraged a culture of one-track thinking to take place. We were so busy telling children and ignorant young adults how to think, but we forgot to show them how to think. This mishandling of educating young minds has brought us to today; a day in which it seems that finding some common ground when interacting with one another over different theories and opinions has been thrown out of the window. Of course, it is possible that our society as a whole has never been there.
There were such television shows, not too long ago, like Firing Line, that would have typically calm conversations debating ideas. It is possible that while it was practiced on-air with a formidable intellectual like William F. Buckley, it was almost nonexistent in most of the rest of the country. When we have seen many news shows on television the last few decades at least, many of them with big ratings had hosts that were or are combative or overly aggressive with the person they were interviewing if that person held a view that the host deemed illegitimate. Those hosts, whom I will not name here, became role models (to some) in how a person with an opposing view should be handled properly. It was not about an exchange of ideas and, with some wit, destroying the argument. It became about actually trying to verbally destroy the person, talk down to them, humiliate them, or mute the person when the host grew tired of them or could not win the argument.
This is not to say that interactions like these happen every day. It is not even desiring to be overly dramatic about the culture. But it is accepting whenever one moment, like last night's and today's events happen, it is one time too many. It is seeing what is going on around us and knowing that things are not right owing to the fact that we have seen a number of clashes between people with varying viewpoints, especially rallies having been held by Trump supporters at Berkeley and those who have protested against him like back in Portland.
Sorry, but there is only so much that you can blame Trump for and this is not one of them.
When you look at the images or the actual video of a maniac taking a car and plowing it into pedestrians, you may or may not think: "What the world needs now is love!" Actually, a song that has that phrase in its title came to mind and it conjures up a well of emotion for me as I listened to it while writing this piece. However, though I believe in love and loving others because of some rewarding qualities that may come, inquiries should be made in gaining an understanding of what love is, learning why we should love, then, proceeding with how we should go about loving our fellow man.
Then, when love is understood to some degree, look into what civil discourse is all about. Loving your enemy and finding common ground with him/her should be changing someone. Otherwise, you are doing it wrong.
Click here to check out Jerome Danner’s website to find more on politics, social commentary, religion, and his podcast. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.