Bedlam breaks out. The entire room of students embraces the inevitable, a sudden us versus them. The ammunition of the moment? Food.
In a somewhat whimsical note, today, America is engaging in its own Animal House, in Congress, statehouses and on the battlefields of Facebook and Twitter. At these various venues, partisans combat one another, sometimes, it appears, simply for the sake of the fight. Some call it trolling. Others call it an honest debate. Regardless, America is fast becoming a fractured society sitting on a foundation of hate. Our governmental houses, silos of partisan-cable news, and social media are not throwing food but weapons of mass destructiveness.
Where exactly will this provocation based upon political and social differences lead us? Instead of eggs and mush on our faces, we're mindlessly experiencing something much worse, something much more dangerous--blood on our faces, blood on our hands. One day, we all know, it just won't scrub off.
Instead of our focusing on the possible solutions to solve our differences among us, we're debating who is being the more careless with our words and actions. As the temperature rises and the anger mounts, for some, the focus has turned to an even yet-political argument over who is the more irresponsible, the more violent?
Last week, the verbal warfare of blame skyrocketed to a much higher level.
We witnessed the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise and others. We almost encountered a literal massacre of helpless Republican Congressmen who were sharpening their skills, not for debate, but for a charity baseball match against their rivals, the Democrats.
Now, we're in shock. We're stunned at the prospects of a much greater attack and counter attack that could leave this nation reeling.
Within our trauma, the questions do abound: Can this country as a whole extend the brief interlude of civility that broke out after the shooting horror or do we lack the will to control our own emotions for the greater good? How do we collectively calm ourselves down so we can work together as a people and a nation? Unless we can answer that basic inquiry, we can never get to the core issues underlying our discord.
On Friday, national radio talk show host, publisher and former elected official, Jim Brown and I tried to tackle these issues in a Facebook Live discussion.
Jim Brown has seen many food fights and rough and tumble partisan brawls in his roughly fifty years as a political participant and watcher. Twenty-eight of those were as a Louisiana Senator and statewide official. He has seen it all. He has written about the time a long-drawling legislator sitting next to him threw a shoe at the clock trying to halt the rapid ticks of the legislative session speeding to a close. He witnessed the madness of the 1968 Democratic Convention. He's suffered the wounds of political vindictiveness and thrown a few punches himself.
Brown would like to think that Americans can come together around a single purpose. Unfortunately, he, as so many who have seen battles many times before are wondering, can we? Will we? Do we really want to do so? What are we doing to inhibit this nation from fostering quiet cooperation?
Here are some of the initial comments he made during this segment of our discussion. Make sure you watch the video for more of this particular segment. Part 2, tomorrow
“The problem is, when we deal with guns, there's just no middle ground. We're appalled by the guns but don't take my gun. In one nation that is so polarized over the gun issue with over 300 million guns in circulation and I don't think that the issue of healing is going to be built around the gun issue, it may be about more cooperation. “
There seems to be an interesting discussion right now about the fact that there is no camaraderie, there is no interplay there's no involvement. The baseball game was one exception, but you know these congressmen who used to shut down the afternoon get to get an eating for dinner or spend weekends there together, now are rushing back and forth to get back home to their districts worried about reelection because of all the polarization and the politics having to raise the big money/ And so maybe we don't move towards any type of solution but I hope there's a debate about more civility quite frankly, because the rhetoric has been so an enormously negative.