By WIN GRUENING
In one of the most memorable memes of 2018, President Trump was mocked for suggesting that the horrific California wildfires could have been prevented if Californians had only spent more time raking the forest floor free of leaves.
Trump supporters insisted this just referred to forest management practices in general. Trump detractors predictably saw this as ignoring the effects of climate change.
Depending on your view both were right.
Still, this was a good example of humor being used to illustrate a point.
But, often, criticism is not so lighthearted.
In today’s world of political correctness and gotcha moments, every word, gesture, and facial expression of political leaders, celebrities, pundits, and newsmakers are parsed endlessly and mercilessly on social media and talk shows.
The toxic rhetoric then escalates to a fever pitch with neither side backing down.
Usually, there is an allegation that what was really meant was an expression of racism, misogyny, or hatred for someone who thinks differently. And therefore, we must be offended.
Being considerate about how we speak and act around others is good.
But being afraid to speak your mind is not.
Bridging our differences depends on our willingness to discuss them openly, not hide them. It also would be helped by using more humor and less nastiness.
It’s entirely possible what someone perceives as an offensive (though possibly insensitive) remark is not meant to demean. But the temptation to take offense and assume some ulterior motive is very powerful.
It becomes easier to play the victim card than try to understand another’s view-point.
Wouldn’t it be better to accept an apology and move on?
A great example of this was the recent Saturday Night Live skit ridiculing Navy Seal Dan Crenshaw for wearing an eye-patch – a result of combat injuries he received during his third deployment to Afghanistan.
Crenshaw, who had just been elected a congressman from Texas, declined to ask for an apology and, instead, said, “I want us to get away from this culture where we demand apologies every time someone misspeaks.”
That alone would have qualified Crenshaw as an anomaly in political circles, but he took it one step further. Crenshaw agreed to appear on SNL in a humorous skit accepting an apology from host Pete Davidson and shaking hands afterward. The YouTube video of that skit now has over 8 million views and counting.
It was a very powerful message for our nation.
If we all could turn over one new leaf and make good on a New Year’s resolution this coming year, my hope would be that we would tone down the rhetoric that seems to dominate our political landscape today.
And we would not be looking to be offended at every turn.
As Cal Thomas, noted syndicated newspaper columnist, has opined, “There are plenty of people who would love to destroy us. We shouldn’t help them by destroying each other.”
Watching the current Congressional battles over illegal immigration is a case in point.
In the politically-charged environment of Washington, D. C., one party assumes the other is cruel, uncaring, or even racist. The other party assumes the other doesn’t recognize the impacts and costs of allowing unfettered immigration to go unchecked. Both seem intent on making sure the other doesn’t get credit for any kind of solution.
So, we remain stuck.
Alaskans seem to have their own thorny issues, as well. From the PFD to resource development, there are many disagreements about how we should move forward.
We have a new governor and administration along with new legislative leadership that deserve an opportunity to govern.
Wild assumptions and baseless claims made in an attempt to sabotage them before they even begin work are not productive.
Our next legislative session may prove me wrong, but, Alaskans, by and large, have remained civil while willing to work through solutions.
We can start by accepting the premise that there is a solution to every problem. The solution may not be what everyone wants but it will reflect a compromise that Alaska needs to move forward.
If that happens, 2019 will be a year to celebrate.
Win Gruening retired as the senior vice president in charge of business banking for Key Bank in 2012. He was born and raised in Juneau and graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1970. He is active in community affairs as a 30-plus year member of Juneau Downtown Rotary Club and has been involved in various local and statewide organizations.
A good, positive piece. Nevertheless, many conservatives are accused of being racists every day. It is an integral party of the Left’s playbook and mental process. I have begun to call people on this nonsense and it is working. In many cases, the person that plays the racist or other identity politics card has nothing of substance to say.
And it gets worse: I have the distinct impression that some on the Left would like to find a way to have government punish people with conservative ideas. I have personally seen this thought expressed. As long as some on the Left carry this notion around, we are going to have problems.
Excellent piece. When I led the Denali Commission from 2005-2009, I had the privilege of working closely with Senator Ted Stevens. Even in close quarters I never heard him denigrate the other party. When he gave his annual address to the Alaska Legislature, he always highlighted the theme that while we will have our differences, as Alaskans, we will always have our abiding friendships. May it be so.
Nice read. The “go to” lines that both sides use on each other are horrible, and often end conversations. The swift conclusions that are drawn when having a simple discussion can literally come from ‘left’ field. I was once having a conversation with a relative and I simply remarked, “nothing is free, someone is paying for it” in response to his dissertation on healthcare for all, increased minimum wage, free tuition, blah blah blah….. His venomous head turned towards me, called me a ‘Trump lover’ and a ‘racist’ and left the room. There you go! And all I said is nothing is free, someone is paying for it. May it be so, George.
Not going to happen, Win. Your piece will fall on deaf-eared Democrats, except to back-up your “rhetoric” on civility. Law schools teach civility, then turn around and show you how to kill off the opposition on the Right. Left-wing newspapers preach civility, until it comes to Republicans and Trump, then they attack. Civility, to the Lefties, is a one-way street.
Please respond to Left-wing crusader Dermot Cole in his 1/6 article in FDNM opinion about the PFD. If Dermot has 10 bottles of whiskey on the shelf, drinks two, and gives one to his friend, how many are left over with compound interest factored in? Answer: less than 7, b/c Dermot drinks faster than the rate of compounding, and he doesn’t tell the truth,…. another hallmark of left-wing reporters.
Attention: Art Chance…..please weigh in.
What? Only 10 bottles of whiskey on DC’s shelf? I thought he owned the store. I read his opinion piece this morning. Typical BS from Dermot. His lack of honesty is his trademark. $14 billion in various state savings accounts used by his hero, Bill Walker, for funding a bloated state government. Then, Dermot actually uses the word “conservative” to give instruction to Mike Dunleavy. Here’s my advice to Dermot……return your PFD in full back to the state, so it can be used to help fund your beloved big government. Otherwise, some liquor store in Fairbanks is going to receive a windfall purchase in whiskey sales next October.
The rhetoric -may- “tone down” when the last Leftist/kleptocrat/ideologue quits the field, tail tucked between its legs.
One wonders, with due respect of course, what part(s) of Americans’ borders, language, culture, exceptionalism, independence, patriotism, income, property, religion, privacy, security, morality, or anything else uniquely American must be compromised for the sake of “toning down rhetoric” or “finding solutions”.
One asks, with due respect of course, what part(s) of the Alaskan Deep State’s culture of corruption, waste, mismanagement, incompetence, theft, and management-union-corporate cronyism must be preserved for the sake of “toning down rhetoric” or “finding solutions”.
Maybe it’s all about “toning down rhetoric” and “finding solutions” to help our Alaskan friends complete the transformation of Alaska’s news media, education industry, electoral process, economy, welfare behemoth, and criminal-justice system into models of Leftist ideology that work so well elsewhere?
Surely “toning down rhetoric” and “finding solutions” will encourage our Alaskan friends in their efforts to mortgage Alaska’s Permanent Fund and economy to build a “pipe line” to donate Alaska’s natural gas to the Communist Chinese who are dedicated to the downfall of all things American.
Productive Alaskans should be pressured into remaining “civil” while our friends in the public-sector union extort whatever money they want whenever they want, no?
So, productive Alaskans must “tone down rhetoric”, “find solutions”, and be “civil” while their Betters in the Holy City of Juneau decide what is best for them.
This could work.
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