My friend and I have been close for about 30 years. We’ve worked together and socialized together. I was the first person she called when her father died. She knows as well as anyone what kind of person I am.
We avoid discussing politics. But we do debate on Facebook. It is as if, to her, I become a completely different person online. No longer Vicki, her well-known and well-loved old friend. On Facebook, I morph into Vicki the Traitor, Supporter of the detested Barack Obama, Vicki Gun-Grabber, Vicki who wants to destroy America.
This astonishes me every single time it happens. I admit that I think my friend’s right-wing views are whacked but I give her credit for good intentions. I consider extreme conservatives to be wrong in their beliefs and philosophy but I don’t accuse them of being deliberately treasonous ... simply wrong.
We were arguing over gun control the other night. She quoted from some report ... author unlisted ... which stated “the term progressive politics are synonymous with Marxism, Socialism, One World Government, Fabian Socialism (huh?), Eugenics and State-ism. Progressivism is clearly quite anti-American, anti-Bill of Rights, anti-constitutional law, anti-freedom. Progressives want a ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT dictatorship.” And yes, one world government was capitalized.
I consider myself more or less a progressive, though I don’t think I fit under any rigid label. Lots of my friends are progressive and I’ve never heard one of them promote any of what is listed above.
To me, progressives believe that basic healthcare should be a right of every citizen. Ditto a safe place to live and enough food to eat. Progressives believe in free public education, up to and including, college. Progressives believe we need unions to balance the power employers have over workers. Progressives believe corporations are not people. Progressives believe wealth should be taxed equally with income.
Now, you might disagree with progressives on all those things but they are a far cry from Marxism and one world government. None of them shred the constitution. Believing them does not make us traitors who want to destroy America. Radicals like my friend seem almost eager to have a new revolution. If they can’t beat us in the ballot box, they may have to beat us in the battlefield, to save the nation, of course. And this is why they are so adamant that they must be allowed to have military-style weapons and high capacity magazines. They post fiery statements about “taking America back” and “fighting tyranny” and reminding soldiers that their duty is to stand with the people, not the government.
For the first time, I can understand how we had a civil war. I used to wonder how brother could turn against brother no matter the high-minded principles they were supposedly fighting for. He’s your freaking brother!
I begin to see how that can happen. You must first demonize the other side so that even your old friend becomes the enemy.
Vicki Williams is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached through the newspaper at firstname.lastname@example.org.