Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Ugly American Undercurrent

I got to thinking the other day about how the country appeared to be before Facebook and the 24-hour media ruined everything. Prior to social and too much media, it appeared that people agreed more than they disagreed. It appeared that everyone had the same goals in mind for the country and their communities. It appeared that racism was a taboo that could hopefully be eliminated some day.

I am one of those people who blame social and too much media for the division in this country, but I am starting to realize that taking that perspective is lazy. This country has never been united, and this country never will be united. All that is going on right now is that the country is showing its true colors, and those colors make an ugly picture.

Has anyone else noticed the increase in attacks against Jewish people and Jewish institutions lately? Has anyone else noticed how so many people are already calling Donald Trump the greatest president ever (after only two months) while still expending the energy to demonize Barack Obama? To me, there is more than a little bit of a racial undertone to that. How can that be? Because the hardcore Trump minions are not even talking about Hillary anymore. They are dead set on ruining the legacy of Barack Obama one fierce Facebook post at a time. Why? You tell me.

The same kind of hatred that causes people to wave rebel flags and shotguns in the direction of a child's birthday party also inspires people to vandalize Jewish synagogues and cemeteries. It isn't necessarily a race or religion thing - it is a hate thing. And so far I have not heard our new fearless leader condemn the hate in any way. Does that mean he condones it? I don't know, he won't say.

This country is at its best when the population is not able to access broad media options that allow people to share opinions. Almost no one in this country understands what conversation is, and the idea of compromise was lost when Facebook first launched. So why does it all seem so negative and venomous now? Because the people with the biggest mouths are winning all the arguments. It is pointless to try and discuss anything with a person who believes only in their own "facts" or the "facts" of their favorite demagogue.

When I was growing up, everything seemed just great. Sure, we had problems here and there, but people were usually able to work out their differences. I lived in a shady part of town growing up, but we were still able to resolve our problems without much violence. When I went on to college, hate groups were nowhere to be seen. If a hate group did pop up, it was usually alienated from the rest of the student population. I grew up believing that everyone compromised and everyone was interested in getting information right to form informed opinions.

Now I realize that the few thousand people I saw or came into contact from my birth to my college graduation were only a very, very small percentage of the actual population. Hate and ignorance were not as widely accepted as they are now because it was hard for hateful and ignorant people to share their views and meet other hateful and ignorant people.

The America we see now has always been there. The scary part is that Facebook amplifies everything that is bad about this country instead of creating a platform for change and human decency. Can we turn things around? I doubt it. As long as the ignorant people scream the loudest, then their points will be the only ones that are heard. Is that depressing? Oh yeah. Very depressing.

Our education system has failed us these past few years, and now we are failing ourselves. It has nothing to do with the next four years. I wouldn't be surprised if these next four years turned into eight years, if the country is still around. It has everything to do with that ugly undercurrent in American society that has suddenly become mainstream. Now that it is out in the open, I am guessing that it will never go away.

George N Root III is a Lockport resident who wonders how things got so bad. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him an email at