Is America coming apart?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by fivepoint, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. fivepoint macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

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    #1
    Perhaps this is a question best answered by the older members of the forum or those with a strong understanding of American and World History. Are we in uniquely adversarial times? Are politics more partisan and more spiteful today than they were 10 years ago? 20? 30? 50? 100? Or is this simply another generation thinking that their particular time on earth is special when really we've been having these arguments since the beginning of time?

    Sometimes it seems that people today aren't just ok disagreeing with each other, but inevitably hate the other side of the spectrum just for being who they are.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Unspoken Demise macrumors 68040

    Unspoken Demise

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    #2
    Unfortunatly, yes, but it seems like its all we've ever known as a society. Im not very old. Im 19, but I have lived in the times you speak of now, and frankly, yes, I think as a country, a society, and a race, we are coming apart. It kind of sad. However, it seems more like a human characteristic; "if you are not with me, you are against me," instead of the more civil "if you are not with me, you may have views similiar to mine, and maybe we can both learn and gro from each other's opinion."

    2 cents.
     
  3. iShater macrumors 604

    iShater

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    #3
    I think it is how we all say "kids these days" forgetting the horrors we brought to our parents when we were kids. :eek:
     
  4. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #4
    Yes- and it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. It's hard to have civil discussions when people treat things like religion as fact. We'll never get anything done as long as people ignore facts.
     
  5. kavika411 macrumors 6502a

    kavika411

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    #5
    Yet another San Andreas fault thread. :rolleyes:

    [Sorry. It's Friday.]
     
  6. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #6
    That was good. ;)
     
  7. TSE macrumors 68030

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    #7
    Mmmmmmmmhmmmmmmmmm we are definitely falling apart as a nation, slowly but steadily. Is a civil war ever going to happen? A revolution? Probably never unless something extreme happens like the government having it's own SS, but I doubt that will actually happen.

    I think personally America will grow back to what it once was, after it either has serious competition or something else happens. Hard times bring the best out of people.
     
  8. GorillaPaws macrumors 6502a

    GorillaPaws

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    #8
    I think we can place a lot of blame for this on the media. The polarization of of the news coverage (both liberal and conservative) is profitable because it creates controversy and controversy gets ratings which brings in ad revenue. But a lot of it goes much deeper. Many of the issues we're debating today existed before the civil war (how much power the federal government should have is a particularly relevant example).

    I also think the media's requirement of appearing "neutral" results in false balance and skews coverage in favor of the radical extremes. For example, coverage of vaccines causing autism and the promotion of healing herbs and other quackery is one example of how the media gives the extreme leftist naturalist position more attention than the reality of the situation deserves. Likewise, treating evolution as a debatable issue is pretty ridiculous. Evolution is a fact; there is more than ample evidence (has been posted/debated in other threads), and thus framing the debate in such a way that makes it appear otherwise is unethical and dishonest. I'm not saying that people aren't entitled to their beliefs, just that when those beliefs are overwhelmingly contradicted by verifiable evidence, the press has an ethical obligation to cover it that way.

    I think Buchanan makes some interesting points, but he reveals his biases with regards to our American heritage:

    I think he may be forgetting that out nation was founded on the concept of the melting pot. The "worshiping the same God" comment is particularly egregious when one considers all of the slaves brought over who had their own faiths, as well as the native americans who were here before us. I would define the American nation as being the exact inverse of Mr. Buchanan's version: that what makes us uniquely American is that we are accepting of all beliefs, have a variety of ancestors from all over the world who celebrate a multitude of holidays and who's music, poetry, art and literature are uniquely American because of this rich diversity.
     
  9. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #9
    Agreed on all points. That's our biggest problem at the moment- people don't honestly look at issues in a factual way, they look at it in an ideological way, which doesn't contribute to solutions. It only causes more problems.
     
  10. fivepoint thread starter macrumors 65816

    fivepoint

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    #10

    I think you make some excellent points regarding the media. For me, the worse thing they've done with the conversation was to turn everything into a sound-bite. They've effectively turned incredibly deep and complicated issues into debates which are a mile wide and an inch deep. A soundbite here, a soundbite there, but no real in-depth information is being shared with the average American.

    The media can't be blamed alone since they're most likely just giving consumers what they demand... but they're certainly not helping the situation. I think we need to do a better job in th schools of getting kids to think critically and question the things they're learning. They shouldn't simply be learning dates and facts about what's happened in the past, but ideology theology, motivations that history's most important figures were working under. If kids can better understand the philosophical viewpoints of these people they can connect the dots and get a deeper understanding of WHY things happened they way they did rather than just when and who.

    Personally, I take a lot of my time reviewing opposing views reading work by people I don't agree with, and generally getting a better understanding of the philosophical fundamentals that my opposition is working under. Unfortunately most people don't necessarily take the time to do this. They only seek out the content which backs up their pre-determined worldview.
     
  11. barkomatic macrumors 68040

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    #11
    I don't necessarily think we are in *more* adversarial times. Don't forget how divided the country was over civil rights in the 60's and the Vietnam war? I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that this particular generation believes it lives in more dramatic times than past generations. America is not coming apart but its changing and redefining itself as it always has.
     
  12. GorillaPaws macrumors 6502a

    GorillaPaws

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    #12
    Well put fivepoint.
     
  13. abijnk macrumors 68040

    abijnk

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    #13
    Wow. I couldn't have said it better myself, you are exactly right. Thanks for putting it into words.

    EDIT:
    Again, I think you are exactly right.

    There is a lack of responsibility all around. The media takes no responsibility for what they put out there, and we as viewers neither hold them nor ourselves accountable and responsible for seeking out the truth.

    @barkomatic, I think the fact that many parents do feel this way just shows how long the education system has been failing to properly educate students on historical matters. As fivepoint points out, if people understood more of the why behind a lot of historical events, why they happened at all, it would help them to understand the goings on today. For example, people like to say that terrorists "hate our freedom" and that this is therefore the reason that they choose to attack America without having the slightest clue about where the Middle East used to be in terms of global power and, perhaps more importantly, why the Middle Eastern map looks the way it does today and the West's role in that.

    Moreover, we have got to get over this fear of children learning. Its ridiculous and dangerous.
     
  14. barkomatic macrumors 68040

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    #14
    While I don't disagree with this, I certainly see a problem with many school districts teaching children any philosopy or theology -- even within a historical context -- that doesn't conform with whatever the local dominent theoligical/philosophical views the parents have. This has always been a problem. Parents don't want school districts to even *mention* a philosophy that they themselves don't hold. They want their children to be carbon copies of themselves.
     
  15. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #15
    You just did the same damn thing in the other thread!

    Remember? "Guys your making it out to be more complicated than it really is" or some nonsense like that.

    Hypocrite.


    I do agree though.
     
  16. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

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    #16
    I think Pat has a lot of good points but I'm troubled by his use of "old American culture". The US has from its inception been largely based on WASP culture, however, by stating that, he ignores the native Americans, the blacks brought over as slaves and the steady stream of non WASPs that immigrated in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Such bald ignorance proves that he's looking at America's past with rose tinted glasses.

    I agree 100%.

    Ever since the faux chateaux and the McMansions began to sprout in the 1990s, I was convinced that America was experiencing a revival of the Victorian era. Complete with misguided moral piety. The Victorian era wasn't unlike Mid Century America.

    The oligarchs of the turn of the century became the military industrial complex fifty years later.

    That resulted in enormous labor turmoil in the early 1900s and then the chaos of the 60s.

    What underlined both periods was massive financial inequality.

    Whether we will see a repeat of the 60s riots or even the labor riots of the 1920s is questionable but I've no doubt that the next decade will see massive change in the US.

    History repeats.

    It's also notable that the press at the turn of the century and in the 60s was controlled by a very small group of white men. Murdoch comes to mind now.
     
  17. Gelfin macrumors 68020

    Gelfin

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    #17
    I've been slowly fermenting a long-form piece about this, but I see the same problem exactly inverted.

    The problem I perceive is people treating questions of fact as religious in nature, and I'm convinced they have been cynically encouraged to do so. I don't think the right is solely to blame, but they were way ahead of the curve on innovation in this area. So successful have they been that people have begun to view the left's vestigial appeals to boring fact-based political wonkery as naïve and ineffective bumbling. The laserlike focus of Manichaean zealotry is so much more powerful than the trundling synthesis of our grandparents' public discourse. It is also easier to build and cheaper to maintain.

    A rational actor (the foundational myth of many political science theories) can be persuaded that one's opponent is partially or completely correct by nothing more than simple fact-based evidence. While this might be an acceptable criterion for the politician who irrationally holds the interests of his constituency to be a higher good than his own standing with the Party and with his lobbyist donors, it is clearly insufficient for the sophisticated politico who is determined to win at all costs.

    A rational actor hears an argument. A zealot hears only that he has an enemy, and redoubles his faith, usually loudly and publicly, both as a prophylactic against Evil and as a proof to his peers of his righteousness.

    Furthermore, rational argument depends upon an audience that understands the argument and all the assorted terms being used in its construction. Zealotry requires only a threat. Every animal naturally understands it, as do many plants and protists.

    Religion itself proves that all you have to do is plant a seed in people's minds that opposing your position is sin and the work takes care of itself. In fact, once planted, it seems you cannot eradicate it. There may be the slight chance that it will grow out of your control, but hey, you'll be out of office by then and it'll be the next guy's problem.

    You can get a larger following and maintain it more cheaply, without wasting valuable fundraising time on condescending "public education" campaigns. If everything is fundamentally economics at some level (as economists, for some inscrutable reason, like to claim), then appeal to zealotry has a clear advantage over appeal to reason. Cynicism will always win in the free market of political tactics unless and until the public inexplicably insists on valuing something more highly than the cheapest political solution available.

    Acting and being treated as adults, for instance.
     
  18. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #18
    That's what I said, just a prettier way of saying it. ;)
     
  19. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #19
    I'm inclined to agree with you, yet I see this conflict as being anything but inevitable. These are the growing pains of a nation that is becoming increasingly secular, and as a population in threat, I do not perceive political interjection as even necessary to provide a catalyst for evangelicals to react to this perceived threat. The response we're seeing is endemic to the faith. Christians are called to witness in the face of secularism. I say this, rather than sin, for the simple fact that to deny God is a sin, and you needn't point at particular types of human behavior such as homosexuality or promiscuity. Therefore, it is deeper than the simple perceived notion that Christians are attacking the progress of human rights, and that they hate a particular people. However, prodded by politicians and media, this metastasizes into focused enmity towards particular groups. This is where I think you are correct, in that these minorities are coming to symbolize everything they abhor, politics included, even if they aren't necessarily the opposition. This it he schism that the right is feeding, and I think that is condemnable.
     
  20. iGary Guest

    iGary

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    #20
    Pat Buchanan is a frigging asshat. I didn't go past his name.
     
  21. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #21
    Well thats just not fair, once in a while he has some good points, its just you have to sit through the drivel first to get to it. I do like seeing him go back and forth with people on MSNBC, once in a while he addresses a real point.
     
  22. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #22
    Actually, I don't think he's nearly as bad as he used to be. He's actually learned a few things.
     
  23. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #23
    I don't believe that America is any more polarized than it's been in the past, just that the size of it's megaphones has increased. American history is checkered with radical groups, presidential assassinations (and attempts), bitter rivalries and political feuds. I think the presence of an ever-expanding 24 hour news cycle has merely brought more attention to it.
     
  24. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #24
    Not to mention the internet, where anyone can post their views.

    It may seem more polarized, when in fact more and more people just have a voice now.
     
  25. it5five macrumors 65816

    it5five

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    #25
    This is rich. You say this in one thread, but then in another, when I ask for legitimate sources, you link me to two "news" entities owned by the man most guilty of using soundbites to mislead the "average American".
     

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