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Why isn't ok to agree to disagree any more?

As the political landscape becomes more and more polarized, well meaning, nice people everywhere are tuning it out. Why can't we all just get along? Why can't we just agree to disagree? Surely that would be the better thing to do.

Most of the time, I agree, that is the best policy. Sometimes, however, to not disagree is a problem. There are those among us that think that the Holocaust didn't happen. I believe that I am correct in saying that most people would disagree with that view and would not just dismiss it with the statement "Can't we just agree to disagree." How about children being sold into slavery in the sex trade? Somalian pirates firing rocket propelled grenades at cruise ships? There are extreme cases that most reasonable people will agree are just wrong. The issue, then, are the borderline cases. When do we cross the line?

When people of different political parties disagree it often results in compromises that help the country. Personally, I think that having Bill Clinton in office with a Republican controlled congress was one of the best things that happened to this country in my living memory. Since neither party had total control, they had to work together. The budget was balanced and the country entered a period of unparalleled prosperity. In that time, it was not only OK to disagree, it was great and the country thrived.

Unfortunately, things are different now. The RNC lost the last election by aligning itself with the radical right and using the strategy of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. After the election they strongly disagreed that their message was off and redoubled their efforts. Now they have added Persecution to their message. The radical right has laid claim to Patriotism and Christianity, and because their candidate did not win, then it logically follows that Patriotism and Christianity are under attack.

As Defenders of the Faith and True Americans it is possible for the radical right to justify nearly any behavior in the name of The Greater Good. Torture, denial of due process, and illegal wire tapping are all fine. The radical right continues to flog their constituency and the people are responding. Fox News organizes Tea Party rallies and the attendees speak of revolution. If anyone dares to disagree or point out an error in their facts, then that person is a liberal and isn't it just a like a liberal to point out mistakes? Free thinking and knowledge are ridiculed and prepared talking points are the message of the day.

What concerns me most is that we have been here before. During the French Revolution there was a period of time known as The Reign of Terror in which Maximillien Robespierre goaded the masses into the killing of thousands of their fellow citizens in the name of Morality, Patriotism, and perceived threats from outside forces. Does this sound familiar? How much of a push does Glen Beck have to give the Tea Party before they head down that path? 

It is my belief that we are too close to where the French were in The Reign of Terror to just continue to tune out and say that we will just have to agree to disagree. I reject the radical right's claim on Christianity and Patriotism and I call on the vast, silent majority of Americans to speak up. When someone makes sole claim to Faith or Patriotism you must call them on it. Together we must disabuse the blind followers of the radical right of their notion that they are the only true Americans. We simply cannot allow our country to be hijacked by a noisy minority because we are uncomfortable with disagreement. America is in the hands of its people and it is on us to save it. Sometimes, it is just not ok to agree to disagree.


dan said…
I have read your blog post, and it is good.
Unknown said…
Obviously, by your comments, you are an élitist.

What strikes me is the counter-productivity of these movements. The issue of education has been coming up much more frequently lately, where the far-right movement has been calling out "élitist!" whenever a reasoned argument is made against what they believe. But, for the most part, they seem to be saying that getting a good education puts you into the liberal camp. Does that mean that they don't value education? Well, maybe they don't value education in the same way, as evidenced by the dogmatic approach to textbook writing demonstrated by the Texas Board of Education.

The far left can be just as dogmatic -- they would have scrapped the Health Care bill altogether because it didn't include all their wants -- but I find them less frightening.

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