Finley: America’s political civil war

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News
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America is engaged in a civil war.

Our nation has fractured so severely that today there is almost nothing that unites us. Not national interest, not faith, not a common vision for our future, not values and increasingly not a respect for the fundamental principles of our founding.

America was attacked two weeks ago by one of our own, an American who bought into the hateful messaging of the Islamic State group, a foreign enemy committed to our ruin. The terrorist attack left 49 of our must vulnerable fellow citizens dead, and another 50 wounded.

Instead of bringing us together in steely resolve to confront this frightening new front in the war on terror, it furthered our divide.

Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s bomb-throwing presumptive presidential nominee, came out of the chute firing with an attack on President Barack Obama, blaming his policies for the killing spree.

Instead of denying Trump the opportunity to set the tone of the national discourse, Obama responded in kind, blaming Trump’s incendiary statements for poisoning the political climate. From there it was a free-for-all.

Groups from the right and left tore off whatever piece of the tragedy fit their particular agenda and shook it in the faces of their opponents.

By the end of the week, congressional Democrats were lowering their brittle bones onto the floor of the House for a sit-in to protest inaction on gun control bills that would strip a million or more Americans, mostly of Muslim descent, of their Constitutional right to due process.

The choice of anarchy over determined deliberation reflects the reality that our leaders, and perhaps all of us, have given up on the search for a middle ground and are concerned only with gaining partisan advantage. The Democratic sitters heralded their civil disobedience with a string of fundraising tweets and Facebook postings.

Already in this election season we’ve seen violent attempts to deny Americans their rights of free association and speech. Police in Cleveland have been warned by the FBI to expect hordes of organized hooligans to descend on their city with the aim of shutting down the upcoming Republican National Convention.

A new Pew Research Center poll finds majorities of both Republicans and Democrats describe the rival political party as immoral, dishonest and stupid, and consider it a threat to the country’s well-being. Many say members of the other party make them feel afraid.

So much for the concept of agreeing to disagree agreeable, an expectation of civility that has kept the nation from shredding.

We have not harbored such irreconcilable differences since the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s. America got through the hostility of that era intact, but for a while it certainly felt as if we were coming apart. In the midst of this bizarre, volatile election season, it feels that way again. Winning by any means necessary is all that matters.

It still is unimaginable that Americans would someday again take up arms against each other, but such fraternal bloodshed always starts with unchecked hatred. And we sure seem to hate each other.

Nolan Finley’s book “Little Red Hen: A Collection of Columns from Detroit’s Conservative Voice” is available from Amazon, iBooks and Barnes & Noble Nook.

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