Love versus hate is a concept that used to confine itself to nuances of romance and stories of the human heart. Now it’s a narrative of absolutes that is attached to any subject and appears to be a barometer of our times. President George W. Bush’s infamous message: “You’re either with us, or against us,” to every nation during the Iraq War signaled this idea. To me it’s not any different than the Roman emperor giving the thumbs up or down to a particular gladiator after an epic battle royale in the coliseum.
We’re faced with so many decisions on a daily basis that it’s hard to imagine opening up to unexpected wisdom or arguments (from anywhere) that change your point of view. It’s tough to concede when you’re wrong, especially if there is more evidence to support a cause you’re against. I recently watched “Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight,” a movie about the historic Supreme Court decision. It determined whether to allow the heavyweight champ box again in the US, or send him to jail for refusing to enter the Vietnam War draft because he claimed conscientious objector status based on his religious beliefs.
Whether you love or hate Muhammad Ali, I think it would be more productive to place attention on the intricacies of arguments, points of view and the overall spirit of laws that we make here in the U.S. Ali’s statements were evaluated closely by the eight justices, who each provided arguments in completely different ways. Ultimately, they all voted in favor of acquitting Ali of draft evasion, but it wasn’t an easy decision. The law was reviewed very closely.
The problem I’ve observed over the past ten years or so is that there is a significant shift in how, we the people, judge political symbols and laws through an all for or against framework. This is a reflection of how simplistic the American people’s voice has become. Maybe it’s because we don’t have enough time in our lives to dedicate to Supreme Court decisions and a brief Cliff Notes version will do the trick on MSNBC or Fox News. But I believe an amazing lack of curiosity and attention to detail exists in terms of how we come to conclusions about politics and people. A deeper examination might just be what people need to better understand our politics and ourselves.
We’re experiencing the rise of a hate-wing in America where vitriol and insults have become more prevalent than acts of good citizenship and true leadership. With Ted Nugent’s recent hateful comments about the president aside (you can view them here), there is a ceaseless advertising push against the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The toxic fumes are difficult to synthesize, quantify or even begin to isolate because Super-PACs have untold amounts of ammunition. To give you an idea of how bad it has become, let’s view some of the less savory ads attacking our president. Barack Obama has been dealing with negative ads for a long time. Here’s a billboard look at political ads that embrace our right to free speech from Daily KOs. Here are some of the political TV ads.
Ted Nugent believes he is a patriot. He fervently supports second amendment rights and other freedoms provided by the Constitution. But with a message of hate and fear, his views are expressed by a tight grip on the past, happy trigger finger and willingness to project hate, rather than taking time to consider alternatives. His misplaced passion is a retro-forward blueprint of more to come. Unfortunately, by the time we see beyond our fears and hate, we might just lose our country. And in the process, we might also lose our ability to love.