We, as Americans, love freedom. We don’t walk in lockstep. We disagree—often deeply about important issues that need resolution. But to find those resolutions while still respecting and sustaining the freedom and rights of all who disagree means we have to figure out how to resolve our disagreements without burning down the house. Polarization burns down the house. It closes down rather than opening up paths for finding acceptable resolutions by igniting emotions, arrogance and contempt rather than inspiring thought, humility and respect. And in the course, diminishes the chances for making any progress for any side. So while polarization may feel like a righteous champion of freedom and right (if you happen to agree with it), it is in fact just the opposite — a stick jammed in the spokes of the democratic discourse of freedom. Here are some of the common ways it does it.
8 Red (and Blue) Flags of Polarization
- SEDUCES with loaded, heated language and childish name-calling that appeals more to emotion that reason.
- BLINKERS by using cherry-picked facts, and ignoring or mocking opposing arguments and evidence rather than actually addressing them.
- TRIVIALIZES by focusing on “straw-man” issues whose value in re-enforcing biases is clearly greater than their substance.
- BULLIES by being making you feel like a dupe or a traitor if you even listen to the other side.
- FLATTERS with language and a tone that makes you feel like an insider, who, of course, agrees with them because you “get it” …just like they do.
- FRIGHTENS by portraying the other side as not just wrong, but a dangerous, evil enemy, replete with wicked hidden agendas.
- “KLANS,” that is, plays the “us vs. them” identity politics game of associating the other view with groups or people (implicitly) “inferior” to “us.”
- “TRIBES” by using the knowing winks and nods of sarcasm, coded language, words in quotes (suggesting they’re misleading) and innuendo which you, as a member of the tribe, of course, will understand without explanation or justification.
When reading an editorial, check this list and ask yourself: is this advancing an intelligent resolution through the persuasive, rational arguments of advocacy…or simply fueling the fire of conflict through the divisive, emotional manipulations of polarization?
THE WEEK IN POLARIZATION, 10.09.17
The aftermath of the horrific mass murder in Las Vegas shows once again how polarizing the issue of gun control is—and how counter-productive polarization is. Gun controllers accuse gun advocates of not caring about life. Gun advocates accuse gun controllers of not caring about liberty. Both sides say their position saves lives. Neither side backs down nor considers the perspective of the other. And no one dares “break ranks” to explore their potential common ground of reverence for life, love of freedom, and grief over the loss of Jenny Parks, 36, kindergarten teacher, mother of two, and the other 57 victims of the Las Vegas killing grounds. So the strutting “us vs. them” standoff of bullying, blinkering, flattering, fear-mongering and righteous indignation continues…along with the slaughter. It’s easy to deride this as “just politics.” But this is polarization not politics. Real politics is the art of resolving conflict through discourse rather than violence. So perhaps it’s time take the politics of this life-and-death issue seriously enough to tune out the polarizers and open our minds and mouths and ears and imaginations in a sincere effort to listen and learn and move things to a better place.
More guns mean more crime
We’re going to take on the NRA and show that we care more about lives than they care about guns
Jimmy Kimmel tells Republicans to pray to God for forgiveness after Las Vegas massacre
‘We cannot wait’: John Lewis blasts trump for refusing to talk about gun violence
House Republican rejects gun control, compares assault rifles to trucks
Rhetorical question: What’s a bigger priority for Republicans, children’s health or the NRA?We need gun control,’ Ariana Grande claims
Republican leaders say ‘there’s not much we can do’ about gun violence. There is.
New gun safety bill is so undeniably sensible even some Republicans may support it
How could anyone deny the need for tougher and more stringently enforced gun laws in the wake of the Vegas slaughter?
Tightening gun control could prevent more tragedies than you think
|Don’t tell the left: More guns means fewer homicides
Another mass shooting this week….And as predictable as sunrise and sunset, politicization of tragedy by the left.All-out war against the NRA begins after Las Vegas massacre
Left-wing politicians, activists and journalists are using the worst mass shooting in modern American history to attack one of the nations oldest civil rights organizations.
The 3 massive lies Jimmy Kimmel told about guns after LV massacre…
The left pushes gun control with emotion, not facts
Radicalized establishment to expand gun control
Even 538 admits that sweeping gun control doesn’t stop mass shootings
NRA slams liberal hypocrisy over Las Vegas massacre
The left pushes gun control with emotion, not facts — but one stunned liberal journalist learned the truth
Leftists despicably use Vegas massacre to further their agenda
Gun control in Europe is almost total. It hasn’t stopped mass shooting attacks like Las Vegas
Expert: Liberals don’t realize gun control punishes blacks, poor people the most
Democrats commit more firearm crime than Republicans
We can do better than this.