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the great divide

National tragedies used to bring us together. We would mourn, grieve and watch the news as if we were holding hands with the entire world.

Things have changed since September 11, 2001. While that event did bring the world together in shock, grief and outrage, it didn't last very long.

The post 9/11 world has become polarized. At some point after the first images of the burning World Trade Center became faded and then replaced by other events, we reached that proverbial fork in the road. And while some went one way and some went another, the result was the same. Our landscape had become politicized and divided.

From Flight 93 to the Columbia tragedy today, every large-scale news item has ripped the divide into a deeper chasm.

It started with people wanting to blame America itself for September 11. They blamed the arrogance of American people, the way we walk with our heads held too high or our wallets packed too full.

Everything became a conspiracy, everyone had a hidden agenda. Lies are told, rumors are started and what starts as insidious thoughts become grand-scale inquiries.

We barely have time to sit back and wipe our tears or sink into momentary shock before the first arrows are slung.

Today I hear the call of the wild-eyed. The blame, the sheer joy expressed at the fate of innocents, the name calling and twisted stabs to the heart.

I hear the mantra of isolationism, of how we have no right to be so heartbroken over seven people when there are starving children in other parts of the world. I hear the cries of the wretched, placing blame where it doesn't belong, using a sad moment in time as an excuse to throw their hatred at you.

They speak these things with bitter hearts and dark souls. They have crawled out of the darkness after every disaster, every plane crash, every heartbreaking moment in history.

In the past 16 months, their voices have become louder and their stories have become larger and more incredible. They have gathered in every corner of the world; in Canada and France, in Australia and Arab nations and here in America.

They take every public moment of despair as their own and twist it and turn it until it is unrecognizable. They do not wipe your tears - they laugh at them. They do not offer you comfort - they offer you cold hands that want to choke the compassion from you.

We stand divided at such a time when we need to be united. We look at each other from across the canyon that separates us and we know there is no way to build a bridge. That chance is long gone, taken from us when we were at our darkest, when we needed to build on hope and strength from each other and only found mistrust and cold stares.

And now here we are, at another crossroads when we should come together and give each other hope for the future and condolences for today.

Instead, we find hateful words and seething anger. We find mockery and trivialization and for the life of me I cannot understand how people can be this way, how people cannot accept a terribly sad moment for what it is and put their pettiness and ill will aside to recognize that.

We are politicized at every angle. We are torn apart by fear. We are a nation divided and not even tragedy, which was once that great equalizer, can bring us back together.

ed. note: as with all things, this works both ways. One particular group does not hold the patent on idiocy and divisiveness.

Comments

Very powerful and true...and you correctly point out that there are 2 sides on that divide. One that offers hope, compassion, and resolute action...the other offers contempt, dispair, and inertia. I know which side you and I are on. Thank you.

People should stand united in the face of such attrocities to offer support in any manner possible to those who are suffering. We should put aside any present quarrels and concentrate on remembering those who have lost their lives for their nations. Of course this doesn't mean people have to abandon their opinions related to other matters, it just means it might be time to take a time out. I for one will abandon my crusade against an unsupported war in Iraq for the time being. Peace be with everyone. My condolences to those who have been affected by the Columbia crash.

Michele, you're lending too much credibility to those making such statements. Have you spoken to anybody about this who felt that way? Neither have I. Everyone I know, regardless of their political leanings, rightly sees this for the tragedy it is without any deeper meaning or hidden agenda on anyone's part. I had to turn off the coverage because I just couldn't take it any more. I can't imagine how those families feel, and I don't need the networks telling me how I should feel about it. I actually came to your site shortly afterwards to see what people were saying. I was taken aback by the vitriol and the trash I was reading. Trollers on this site were as emotional and almost as hateful as those spouting their crap on the DU. Chip is right. Take time out and grieve about this in your own way. This is emotional enough - why dig for anger by reading the thoughts of empty headed children such as those at the DU? Just let it go.

I am saddened by a small group in owe country's can twist misconception into such hate.

Where is HOLLYWOOD NOW?????

i cant believe people think the gop did this on purpose and other people are saying they wish is was airforce 1 instead.......is it american to wish the president dead?
DIVIDED WE STAND!

and to add to todays tragedy; they are reruning Al Gore on SNL.....This is truly a sad sad weekend.

Cocktailing because.........

Accidents happen.

If NASA wanted to expend the extra dollars to boost my fat ass to do my three experiments, I'd go right now!

I went to the Louisiana State State Science Fair in the 8th Grade with a project using Vascular Aquatic Plants (water Hyacinth, Reeds, bullrusshes, etc) to remove pollutants (human Poo Poo) from water. I did well (better if I had had a judge at least as smart as me). The goal was total recyclement of water. Necessary in a Space Station.

If the NASA ORBITAL MECHANICS said the next window was X, I'd be there with my Leatherman at X-minus 30 hoping my tool wasn't too heavy to boost!

Leaking from the eyes is allowed today

Perry

I'm tired of leaking!

Luddites and Liberals can kiss my ass!

This is My Country. If you don't like it, buy a Fucking Ticket Out!---Now!

I'm ready on the next experiment--On the ground or in the sky!

Perry

Michelle:

The brainless d!*kheads have always been with us. The difference today is that, through the miracle of modern communications, they can raise their voices and find each other - and the desperation of 24-hour "infortainment" channels to find something, anything to fill air-time and draw an audience, gives them a national stage they never had before. There only APPEARS to be more of them.

Fvck 'em. We must do what we've always done - ignore them unless they get in the way; then roll the hell over them if they do.

The whiners, the haters, the losers and the defeatists have NEVER lead this country anywhere - especially into the cesspits in which they live. Pay them no mind except to avoid them like the piles of excrement they are. Think of their bleatings as auditory and visual warnings, rather than olfactory ones.

this is an incredibly well-written post. i have been reading you lately because even though i may not always agree, there is always interesting and spirited discussion.

but i have got to say, after reading this, that this is exactly how i felt after reading your post the other day 'an honest question'. i left your site appalled that you had taken that event and exploited it to prove your point...in effect regrafting history to politicize this tragedy. and i know...you're going to say 'but it is political, and i agree, but i think that post was exploitive. one can piss the day away with what ifs, but it won't change what a complete clusterfuck we are involved in today. and knowing people who were directly affected by the events of 9/11...i just get bugged when they and the memories of their dead are used by any political group to get some divisive circle jerk going.
i really applaud this post on 'the great divide', and i'll keep reading.
feel free to call me excrement now.

Yes, accidents do happen...especially when the GOP is around and W is in charge.....

The mockery and the trivilization are what I most cannot get over. That's the oh so intelligent response that most angered me during your 9/11/2003 posts - that trite attitude that says "you're all hypocrites because you only care about XYZ when you should really be cold heartless bastards like me and not care about anybody", and it is what's currently pushing my buttons in blogland about the Columbia deaths.

As always, the way you balance your posts between reporting the simple facts you know and the more complex facts you feel, well it makes it a bit easier for me to walk away from my button pushers. Thanks.

I have to agree with Kevin. We're just seeing a scaling up of paranoia and whininess.

Oh, and whoever that nameless asshat is who decided that this is a political issue instead of a tragedy, I feel sorry for you. Some day I hope you GET IT.

Right now, though, stop breathing my air.