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Defining our differences
ifihadahif Posted: Wed Oct 22 14:35:44 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  The second American civil war: what it's about
Dennis Prager (archive)


Whatever your politics, you have to be oblivious to reality to deny that America today is torn by ideological divisions as deep as those of the Civil War era. We are, in fact, in the midst of the Second American Civil War.

Of course, one obvious difference between the two is that this Second Civil War is (thus far) non-violent. On the other hand, there is probably more hatred between the opposing sides today than there was during the First Civil War. And I am not talking about extremists. A senior editor of the respected center-left New Republic just wrote an article titled, "The Case for Bush Hatred," an article that could have been written by writers at most major American newspapers, by most Hollywood celebrities, and almost anyone else left of center. And the conservative hatred of former President Bill Clinton was equally deep.

In general, however, the similarities are greater than the differences. Once again the North and the South are at odds (though many individuals on each side identify with the other). And once again, the fate of the nation hangs in the balance. The two sides' values and visions of America are as incompatible as they were in the 1860s.

For those Americans who do not know what side they are on or who are not certain about what the Second American Civil War is being fought over, I offer a list of the most important areas of conflict.

While the views of many, probably even most, Americans do not fall entirely on either side, the two competing camps are quite distinguishable. On one side are those on the Left -- liberals, leftists and Greens -- who tend to agree with one another on almost all major issues. On the other side are those on the Right -- conservatives, rightists and libertarians -- who agree on stopping the Left, but differ with one another more often than those on the Left do.

Here, then, is Part One of the list of the major differences that are tearing America apart:

The Left believes in removing America's Judeo-Christian identity, e.g., removing "under God" from the Pledge, "In God we trust" from the currency, the oath to God and country from the Boy Scouts Pledge, etc. The Right believes that destroying these symbols and this identity is tantamount to destroying America.

The Left regards America as morally inferior to many European societies with their abolition of the death penalty, cradle-to-grave welfare and religion-free life; and it does not believe that there are distinctive American values worth preserving. The Right regards America as the last best hope for humanity and believes that there are distinctive American values -- the unique combination of a religious (Judeo-Christian) society, a secular government, personal liberty and capitalism -- worth fighting and dying for.

The Left believes that impersonal companies, multinational and otherwise, with their insatiable drive for profits, have a profoundly destructive effect on the country. The Right believes that the legal system, particularly trial lawyers, lawsuits and judges who make laws, is the greater threat to American society.

The Left believes multiculturalism should be the ideal for American schools and for government policy. The Right believes that the Americanization of all its citizens is indispensable to the survival of the United States.

The Left believes that the Boy Scouts as currently constituted pose a moral threat to society. The Right believes the Boy Scouts continue to be one of the greatest moral institutions in the country.

The Left believes in equality more than in liberty. The Right believes more in liberty. For example, the Left believes that for the equality's sake, men's clubs must accept women. The Right believes that for liberty's sake, associations must be free to choose their own members.

The Left believes that when schools give out condoms to teenagers, they are promoting safe sex. The Right believes that when schools give out condoms, they are promoting more sex.

The Left believes that poverty, racism and psychopathology cause violent crime. The Right believes a lack of self-control, lack of religious practice and lack of good values are the primary causes of violent crime.

The Left believes that "war is not the answer." The Right believes that war is often the only answer to governmental evil.

Any one of these differences is enough to create an entirely different America. Added together, the differences suggest people who live in different worlds that are on a collision course.

And I have only listed some of the conflicting views.

In Part Two, I will discuss the other major conflicts making for the Second American Civil War.

In part one, I described nine areas of major conflict between the Right and the Left in American life, a conflict that rivals the First Civil War in intensity, though thankfully not in violence. Here in part two, I describe 15 others.

The Left regards American nationalism as dangerous, is more comfortable celebrating world citizenship and prefers that America follow the lead of international organizations such as the United Nations. The Right celebrates American nationalism, distrusts world organizations, prefers that America lead humanity and regards the United Nations as largely a moral wasteland.

The Left believes that sensitivity to minorities' feelings trumps the majority's will. The Right believes that when not immoral, the majority's will trumps that of the minority. For example, because some employees do not celebrate Christmas, the Left believes that organizations should rename their Christmas party the "holiday party." The Right believes that because the vast majority of Americans celebrate Christmas, the party should be called a Christmas party.

The Left believes that a woman must have an unrestricted right to choose an abortion but no right to choose a silicone breast implant. The Right believes that society must decide when abortions are moral and legal but a woman has the right to choose to have a silicone breast implant.

The Left believes that attacking world poverty will greatly reduce Islamic terror. The Right believes that poverty is largely unrelated to Islamic terror.

The Left believes that George W. Bush attacked Iraq mostly for economic gain. The Right believes George W. Bush attacked Iraq to protect America and to change the Arab world for the better.

The Left believes that a high rate of taxation of people who earn more money is a moral imperative. The Right believes that allowing people to keep as much of their money as possible is a moral imperative.

The Left identifies with the values of most university professors in the liberal arts and values their insights. The Right regards most of these professors as moral idiots.

The Left believes that the greatest danger to mankind, as former Vice President Al Gore wrote in his book "Earth in the Balance," is the threat to the environment. The Right believes that the greatest danger to humanity is, as it always has been, human evil.

The Left believes that marriage should be redefined and that judges alone are entitled to do so. The Right believes that the millennia-old definition of marriage as between members of the two sexes is inviolable and that it can't be redefined by jurists.

The Left believes that in terms of parenthood, all a child needs is love, whether that love comes from a single parent, two men, two women or some other adult. The Right believes that children do best with the love of two married parents of the opposite sex.

The Left believes that opposing race-based college dorms, graduation ceremonies, congressional caucuses or professional organizations is racist. The Right believes that race-based college dorms, graduation ceremonies, congressional caucuses and professional organizations are racist.

The Left believes that labeling any enemy of the United States "evil" is wrong. It was wrong when President Ronald Reagan labeled the Soviet Union an "evil empire," and it was wrong when President George W. Bush labeled Iran, Iraq and North Korea an "axis of evil." The Right believes that not labeling such regimes "evil" is a sign of moral confusion and appeasement.

The Left is preoccupied with health. Leftist parents are more likely to believe that it is preferable that their teenager cheat on a test than smoke. Parents on the Right are more likely to believe that it is better that their teenager smoke than cheat.

The Left believes that just as America and the Soviet Union were equally responsible for the Cold War, Israel and the Palestinians are equally responsible for Middle East violence. The Right believes that just as the Soviets were responsible for the Cold War, the Arab enemies of Israel are responsible for Middle East violence.

The Left believes that criticism of Christianity is important and that criticism of Islam is bigoted. The Right believes that criticism of Islam is important and that most criticism of Christianity is bigoted.

I am well aware that not everyone on the Left agrees with every leftist position and not everyone on the Right agrees with every rightist one. Nat Hentoff is a leftist who doesn't support abortion rights; Pat Buchanan is a rightist who doesn't support Israel. But the existence of individual exceptions does not negate the fact that all the positions listed here as Left or Right are correctly labeled.

The fact is that this country is profoundly divided on virtually every major social, personal and political issue. We are in the midst of the Second American Civil War. Who wins it will determine the nature of this country as much as the winner of the first did.






 
Asswipe Posted: Wed Oct 22 15:10:59 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  god, what a boring read. the author fails to take into account that the majority of people in the US don't give a phuq about pretty much all of the GIANT CONTROVERSIES presented here. The next civil war? Yeah, ok.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Wed Oct 22 15:22:02 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Asswipe said:
>god, what a boring read. the author fails to take into account that the majority of people in the US don't give a phuq about pretty much all of the GIANT CONTROVERSIES presented here. The next civil war? Yeah, ok.

au contraire, but the majority of the people DO care one way or the other on these issues, hence the millions of dollars being made by the likes of michael moore, al franken, rush limbaugh, bill o'reilly and such.


 
Asswipe Posted: Wed Oct 22 17:04:55 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  perhaps they care about 'em as much as they care about watching a movie about futuristic robots taking over the world, for entertainment or maybe a little education. But to pick up arms in the name of restructuring the boy scouts of america and other such trite debates? never.

shit, the majority of people care more about their favorite professional teams then they do about politics



 
ifihadahif Posted: Wed Oct 22 19:27:33 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Asswipe said:
>perhaps they care about 'em as much as they care about watching a movie about futuristic robots taking over the world, for entertainment or maybe a little education. But to pick up arms in the name of restructuring the boy scouts of america and other such trite debates? never.

who said anything about taking up arms ?

>shit, the majority of people care more about their favorite professional teams then they do about politics

yeah, and eventually that will prove to be our downfall. apathy and laziness.

>


 
Cytherean Posted: Wed Oct 22 23:48:40 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>yeah, and eventually that will prove to be our downfall. apathy and laziness.

Precisely. That's a plague of our culture. People just dont give a shit about matters that are so distant from their daily lives, such as party politics and government. They just want things to work, so they can be comfortable and secure and go about their business living in blissful ignorance. Comfort, thats another American obsession, the desire of which is fueling our economy of mass-production. Americans fear and consume. The media helps to rile up the public, get them scared, and people purchase madly in order to make sense of their lives and "secure" themselves. You can rip me to shreds if you wish but I think 9/11 was extremely good for us as a nation. It gave us the wake-up call we so desperately needed after the prosperous 90's made us forget catastrophe for awhile. We're vulnerable in such a state of sensitivity. Suffering, sacrifice, calamity, these things make us strong. They build unity. We were becoming far too accustomed to the way things were. It's important to be forced to adapt every so often, keeps us evolutionary beings on our toes. Finally, we're out of the struggle-drought of the 90's and we suddenly have purpose. It feels good to have a profound sense of national direction instead of just flourishing in blind prosperity without truly knowing or appreciating the luxury of the American lifestyle. Every generation needs their great war, great depression, epic struggle against foreign adversaries. It gives us national character. Sure a peaceful world would be ideal, but, since it is an ideal, its not likely to occur at any point in time as long as humans are in charge. Sin will prevent that, so we need to work around our nature and find the best system of advanced civilization that will benefit us most. The West found capitalism, a system that actually thrives off of our sinful nature as greedy, gluttonous beings. The best of the worst, I suppose. But yes, lack of interest in national and global affairs will destroy us as people.


 
addi Posted: Thu Oct 23 07:48:35 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Cytherean said:
>You can rip me to shreds if you wish but I think 9/11 was extremely good for us as a nation. It gave us the wake-up call we so desperately needed after the prosperous 90's made us forget catastrophe for awhile.

thoughtful take on things. I won't rip you to shreds. I will take issue with the wake up call statement though. I wish you were right, but I believe only a small number woke up. I think the vast majority of Americans heard the alarm, hit the snooze button, and went back to sleep. They're back to living in their own little world with their biggest "global" concern being the cost of a gallon of gas for their SUV that gets 16 MPG. I also cringe at your use of "sin" and "our sinful nature", but that's mostly semanticts and my fundamentalist past coming back to haunt me. I do agree that prosperity and lack of want eventually leads to complacency.


 
Cytherean Posted: Thu Oct 23 17:42:29 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  addison said:
>I also cringe at your use of "sin" and "our sinful nature", but that's mostly semanticts and my fundamentalist past coming back to haunt me. I do agree that prosperity and lack of want eventually leads to complacency.

Yeah. I understand the religious resentment totally. I'm a Christian spiritualist myself, but I was suckled on Lutheranism in my youth and know exactly what a childhood religious curb can do to someone. I used the word "sin" and "sinful nature" simply because everytime I distill my thoughts I almost always arrive at the human spirit being the central theme of existence. It is the root from which everything springs, and I find it immensely difficult to avoid it during any intellectual journey.


 
Mesh Posted: Thu Oct 23 23:51:50 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  This was done in 2002


Berkeley - The generation gap between youths and older adults might not be what you'd expect, and on some political issues involving religion and abortion, young people may be the most conservative of all, according to a new survey by University of California, Berkeley, political scientists.
The report, released today (Tuesday, Sept. 24) by the campus's Survey Research Center as part of the center's Public Agendas and Citizen Engagement Survey (PACES), is based on interviews nationwide with Americans ages 15 to 92. It provides a comprehensive assessment of the generation gap in American political opinions.

UC Berkeley political science professors Merrill Shanks and Henry Brady were the lead researchers, along with Indiana University professor Edward Carmines. Douglas Strand of the Survey Research Center was the study's project director. Topics and results include:

* School prayer. Fifty-nine percent of adults ages 27 to 59 want public schools to allow prayer at official school activities, such as commencements. Among teenagers, 69 percent support school prayer.

* Federal aid to faith-based charities. Forty percent of adults ages 27 to 59 support such funding. But support reaches 59 percent among the college-aged and 67 percent among younger teens.

* Religious conservatives. Young Americans show somewhat more warmth towards religious conservatives than older adults. Individuals ranked their feelings for these groups on a scale from zero for "cold" to 50-100 for varying degrees of "warmth." Although no age group showed much warmth to Christian fundamentalists, 33 percent of youths ages 15 to 26 gave them a rating over 50; 26 percent of Americans over age 26 gave a similar score.

* Abortion. Government restrictions on abortion are supported by 34 percent of adults over 26, while about 44 percent of youths ages 15 to 22 support such restrictions.

"We were surprised by the greater support among young Americans for some aspects of the conservative cultural agenda," said Shanks. "Young Americans show more conservatism on religious politics and abortion even though youths, as a group, appear to be less likely than their elders to attend religious services regularly or consider religion a guide in their daily life.

"If the youth of today maintain these positions on religious politics and abortion as the years go by, then the American public as a whole could become more conservative on these issues."

In the case of social security and education, if there is a generation gap in opinions, it is the elderly who stand out, not the youth. Youth are just as supportive as their parents and grandparents when it comes to government spending on health care for seniors. However, older Americans don't show a corresponding supportiveness for the education programs that benefit youth. While 70 percent of young and middle-aged Americans support more spending on elementary and secondary education, only 52 percent of those over 60 favor increased school funding.

Some traditional political differences between young and older Americans continue to prevail. Youths are more inclined to want the federal government to do more to protect women and racial minorities from job discrimination. They also are more likely to consider job discrimination against gays and lesbians to be a serious problem. And they want more federal programs to assist the poor and protect the environment.

Differences between the young and old are most dramatic when it comes to sex and violence on television. Among Americans ages 27-59, 67 percent think "the amount of sexual content on television" is a serious problem, while just 47 percent of teens and the college-aged feel that way.

And while an overwhelming majority of the adults ages 27 to 59 - 74 percent - thinks TV violence is a serious problem, the majority of teens and young adults - 55 percent - disagree.

On many other issues, however, there was no generation gap. The study found no dramatic differences between younger and older Americans on such issues as military defense, gun control, tax policy, criminal punishment, and government support for health care in general.

"The next step for us and other scholars is to solve the puzzles in our overall picture of the generation gaps in political opinions," said Strand. "We need to explore why youths seem to be more conservative than their elders when it comes to religious politics and abortion politics, but not other issues."

Strand speculated that messages criticizing abortion and supporting school prayer and government aid to religious charities may have been more prominent in the media while the youngest generation was developing political views. He noted that older generations developed their basic positions on these issues before religious conservatives began mobilizing politically in the late 1970s.

The study is based on telephone interviews completed during the latter half of 2001, and most occurred between late April and September 10. About 1,250 people were interviewed, a standard sample for academic survey research.

The executive summary of the report, containing additional details about it, is available on the Web at www.pewtrusts.com/pdf/pp_paces.pdf.

The project was funded by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, which support nonprofit activities in the areas of culture, education, the environment, health and human services, public policy and religion.




 
addi Posted: Fri Oct 24 07:07:01 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Cytherean said:



>Yeah. I understand the religious resentment totally. I'm a Christian spiritualist myself

I appreciate what you're saying. We probably have some things in common in that department.
By the way, is a "Christian spiritualist" a New Age Christian that wears a crystal around her neck? : )


 
Cytherean Posted: Mon Oct 27 16:56:01 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  addison said:
>Cytherean said:

>By the way, is a "Christian spiritualist" a New Age Christian that wears a crystal around her neck? : )

On the contrary, Mr. Addison. Christian Spiritualism, as I have come to define it, is more of an anti-establishment, individualistic religious conviction that centers on an intimate relationship with God (in my case, the triune God) and less on an organization of believers or a church. Not that I'm opposed to the Church, I attend one regularly, I just believe divine truth lies within deeply spiritual religious enlightenment through faith in Christ, God, and all Scriptural tenants of Christianity and not absolutely within an institution. I cannot and will not put my trust in a human institution such as the church on earth, when it is so susceptible to corruption, greed, and all the other human desires that muddle the big picture of Christianity on a universal and metaphysical scale. To quote Emily Dickinson, "The soul selects her own society." My surroundings, my environment, my location are all irrelevent. True worship exists within the soul. I can't see how being cooped up in a Church sanctuary for an hour and a half can be any more spiritually edifying than holding palaver with God on the forest floor among the trees and woodland creatures. The human spirit matters quintessentially, while physical location can merely stimulate the senses toward a spiritual experience of a more satisfying nature, depending upon the conditions that are in place at a particular point in time.
(By the way, your assumption on my gender was incorrect. just to let you know. lol)


 
Mesh Posted: Tue Oct 28 16:21:48 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  .
>(By the way, your assumption on my gender was incorrect. just to let you know. lol)


Ah ha, same mistake, different mistake maker. Yours still was not as bad as my mistaking christophe for a girl. That one was pretty bad:)


 
sweet p Posted: Tue Oct 28 17:09:31 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  meshuggah said:
>Ah ha, same mistake, different mistake maker. Yours still was not as bad as my mistaking christophe for a girl. That one was pretty bad:)


: D Mesh, you make me laugh!!


 
Mesh Posted: Wed Oct 29 00:02:01 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
 
>: D Mesh, you make me laugh!!


Well that is dagnab good i suppose :)


 
addi Posted: Wed Oct 29 07:41:16 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Cytherean said:
>addison said:
>>Cytherean said:
>
>>By the way, is a "Christian spiritualist" a New Age Christian that wears a crystal around her neck? : )
>
>On the contrary, Mr. Addison. Christian Spiritualism, as I have come to define it, is more of an anti-establishment, individualistic religious conviction that centers on an intimate relationship with God (in my case, the triune God) and less on an organization of believers or a church.

Go for it, Cytherean. And you should know that my crystal necklace remark was just a weak attempt at humor. I'm all for pursuing "intimate relationships", whether it's with god, your dog, or a Lexus SC430.
Just ignore my jaded outlook on god and spiritualism. I've become a sceptical, cynical old man that keeps searching for some kind of meaning to life and has yet to find a satisfactory answer. For the time being my philosophy is to just "be" and love. Last time I tried to commune with the triune on a pine covered forest floor a bird pooped on my shoulder. I figured it was a message from above.

>(By the way, your assumption on my gender was incorrect. just to let you know. lol)

My sincere apologies on that mess up. Assumptions coming back to bite me in the butt once again. Just last week I was flirting with a hot chick in a club and discovered back in "her" apartment that she was really a sheep in woman's clothing. :)


 
Mesh Posted: Wed Oct 29 15:43:42 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
 
>My sincere apologies on that mess up. Assumptions coming back to bite me in the butt once again. Just last week I was flirting with a hot chick in a club and discovered back in "her" apartment that she was really a sheep in woman's clothing. :)



More sheep problems?:)


 
addi Posted: Wed Oct 29 15:57:02 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  meshuggah said:

>
>
>More sheep problems?:)

The poster could not be reached for comment. His attorney read a prepared statement saying: "It's time to put away our ignorant biases and accept the fact that sheep have no choice about being sheep. It's a biological thing, not a choice they come to one day grazing in the pasture".
Immediately following this press conference a Border Collie, disguised as a reporter, bit the heel of the attorney.


 
Mesh Posted: Wed Oct 29 18:01:53 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
 
>Immediately following this press conference a Border Collie, disguised as a reporter, bit the heel of the attorney.


Har, it was perhaps mi sisters border collie, winston:)


 



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