By: Joe D’Amore – 8-24-17
When a helicopter hovers high above 40,000 people gathered to engage in a passionate demonstration- without the use of clubs, knives and guns- it creates a false impression of a peaceful condition. But on the ground, up close and personal, one would have experienced random acts of intolerance, aggressive behavior and overall dangerous conditions. People fused together either in unison if aligned with a position (left wing/ right wing) or locked in eye to eye -level verbal combat with an adversary.
Identity politics is more destructive than effective. It likely cannot yield much value in producing inspiring public policy. People spend an amazing amount of energy trying to terminate free expression of those whose views differ from theirs.
The issues are complex but a basic sketch goes something like this.
The right leaning are upset that African Americans, other minorities, immigrants and other certain members in society who are undeserving of government- provided benefits will achieve economic parity at their expense. They are being forced to accept a diminished capacity protected by unfair rules that target them unfairly so that others, deemed by government to be disadvantaged can enhance their opportunities for economic and social advancement. They refuse to be victimized.
The left- leaning feel gains have been made and must be preserved as a backdrop to leverage more advancement for the disadvantaged. They feel that equality in economics and social status has still not reached an acceptable level. In fact, after decades of social unrest and civil rights efforts, there is still much work to be done. Their struggle is real and intolerance for hate and bigotry is a necessary offensive mandate to deflect a resurging trend aimed at persecuting new groups and individuals who seek evolving forms of personal freedoms.
They also refuse to be victims.
Both general opposing views are held by people who wish to engage in meaningful dialogue. There are cool heads in all groups. However, in all ranks there are also those who either in fantasy or in practical intent wish to physically harm other people to advance their respective cause.
The Boston Police executed a well thought out plan to prevent a repeat of the truly horrific and tragic events of Charlottsville of a week before. Other than a handful of arrests of those that engaged in scuffles directly with police, the event can rightfully be categorized as “peaceful” in relative terms . This was a remarkable win for Boston and the protection of free speech.
But as mentioned earlier this is only the ” helicopter” view. What the police could never do was to prevent the intangible violence that occurred very close to the ground. There was seething, verbally -fired hatred openly expressed with bravado. Subtle and not so subtle threats of bodily harm were rampant. Many chants and debates would never pass the PG 13 Test.
There was a thick perceptible air of tension threatening to erupt between combatants. Shouting in unison was the chosen method of destroying an opposing outcry . Debate existed only in brief instances and in isolated circles . Healthful discourse melted as quickly as an ice cube would under a focused blow torch. Any such exchanges were summarily vaporized by descending hoards of chanters who wished not to allow anyone to even remotely express an opposing and therefore intolerable opinion.
If one did not understand the markers and symbolism of White Supremacy, “Free Speechers”, Neo-Nazis, Alt-Right, Alt-Left, Black Lives Matters, Antifa, immigrant advocates, sexually -oriented activists and an almost infinite and bewildering constellation of groups adhering to their respective world vision they would have left the event without being able to answer some basic questions. Who – as in which group – would have most likely resorted to physical violence if the police were not present? Who would have wished to confirm their perceived legitimacy by breaking windows or heads to support their chants? Who had earned the right to validate their cause with bloodshed?
The reality is that neither peaceful wishfulness nor a desire for violence was vested exclusively in any one contingency. All groups had the potential to exact love and hate in equal measure. Nobody had the market in peaceful resolution cornered. These are in fact, the only perceptible levels of parity achieved in Boston and typically so at these types of events. There were beautiful expressions of compassion as well as hate at every step in a mass of people. It was a curious juxtaposition. And the only reason Boston prevented a tragedy was that cooler heads in all quarters did , in fact, prevail.
Such rallies ultimately have limited utility in advancing causes because the underlying conflict among individuals and groups neutralize conditions to advance meaningful dialogue. They also are perfect platforms for the disenfranchised of any pursuasion to claim evidence that those who persecute them are the trouble makers.
Polarization occurs when people yell at each other instead of listen, resort to intimidation instead of dialogue, spit at each other and shove, instead of accepting the risk associated with allowing an opportunity to engage peacefully with another on the premise of shared humanity . This is the greatest universally acceptable intolerance of all. Most participants cannot risk engaging peacefully. There is genuine fear that in doing so an opposing view may be deemed acceptable and that might force either a public display of tolerance, or even worse, a change of heart! It is far more expedient to insult someone and maneuver to cut them off rather than to unexpectedly find yourself exposed in a compromised position of agreeing with someone you’re sworn to hate.
Nobody was killed or hurt in Boston. But other forms of virulent violence that occured there confirms that racism, hate, bigotry and intolerance is no longer the exclusive purview of any sector in society. It is utterly rampant and unchecked.
In fact in our nation. there are a growing number of dedicated adherents to these sentiments and they have frightenly surged forward to take center stage in our collective political psyche. Hatred has learned to disguise itself behind many masks.
Joe D’Amore writes from Groveland