COLUMN: A Confederate Yankee

The United States is at war. Combatants are within and without. The alarming aspect is that few of our fellow citizens realize it and the profound threat it represents. America has been at this level of turmoil in the past, but each time we managed to come out ahead – by the skin of our teeth. There is no guarantee that we’ll be able to do it again.

About the enemy without: Russia indeed did make serious effort to influence our 2016 elections – even Putin himself has admitted as much – and they were remarkably successful.  They’d been working on the process for the past two decades at least…perhaps longer.  And no, they did not hack into voting machines and alter the numbers – they didn’t need to.

They did it through social media and other readily-accessible outlets. They’re still doing it. Facebook, for example, displays their efforts multiple times a day. The posts identify with a variety of well-known names, and they’re very good at appearing to mirror popular opinion among Americans. They offer lies and misrepresentations of events. The misrepresent individuals and agencies, both within and outside of government, misquote them or blatantly lie about them. They’ve learned to tap into our deepest fears and suspicions. They’ve learned of our deepest prejudices, our fears, our bigotries, and play those strings like maestros. They’re playing us for suckers, and, aided by the insanity of the current occupant of the White House, have knocked our public discourse into the wastebasket. Last weekend’s tragedy in Virginia was but one savage outcome.  America stands to lose this war without a shot being fired by the “opposition”.

And internally: shock and horror at the recent event in Virginia has been expressed many, many times over the past few days.  But shock and horror alone ain’t gonna cut it, neighbors.  We need to stop.  We need to set aside outrage and all that, and accept that both liberals and conservatives in America have messages that deserve to be heard.  We need to take hold of the extremists on both sides – grab ’em by the ear and sit ’em down and make them shut up while the rest of us listen – truly listen – to our fellow citizens, to come to understandings.  We don’t have to agree with everything the other folk have to say, but by laying aside our clubs and hammers and insults, we have a much, much better opportunity to come to mutually-agreeable resolutions.

I understand the attitudes and fears of the conservative crowd. I grew up among such folks. I witnessed blatant racism. When I asked why, the responses spoke of ignorance and outright fear. Same thing with sexism. And ageism. I lived among Native folks – I was one of two white kids among several hundred Hopi and Zuni Indians – and so witnessed their struggles with the lack of acceptance. I’m a tell ya what, THAT was an education I’m still processing many years later.

I recognize that we’re not going to come to some la-la-land where everyone is in perfect harmony and acceptance anytime soon. But dammit, the consequences of failing to work diligently towards such a goal are seriously threatening to ALL of us. We cannot afford to mess around any longer. The profound disruption engendered by our failure to work together and support each other – even those with whom we have serious differences – leaves the entire nation profoundly vulnerable. We cannot allow Putin and his cronies to conquer us through a complete collapse of our society. Again, it could happen without a single shot being fired. We do not – we do NOT – want to experience that which would fill the void.  Resist!

William D. “Bill” Mayers RT, RN, of Sullivan is a retired senior U.S. Army Corpsman. A certified healthcare professional since 1964, he holds two professional licenses, including that of Registered Professional Nurse licensed in New York, Alaska, Virginia and Louisiana. He has four children, two stepchildren, three grandchildren, a new great-grandchild and is an avid analyst of current events.

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