Our Opinion: Turn back before we reach the edge of the map

Published 11:04 am Saturday, October 20, 2018

At a campaign rally in Missoula, Montana, Thursday, President Donald Trump told those gathered that he praised Republican Congressman Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte as being a “tough cookie.”

In case you don’t remember, Rep. Gianforte was involved in a confrontation with Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs last year that resulted in misdemeanor assault for Gianforte.

In Thursday’s rally President Trump said, “Any guy can do a body slam — he’s my kind of guy. He’s a great guy, tough cookie.”

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This is particularly tone-deaf in light over the still developing case of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi who, according to Turkish reporters, was murdered and dismembered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Trump has continued to take a hesitant course on the matter with refusal to fully commit to any kind of action, aside from vague threats of “very severe” consequences.

Trump’s disdain for the members of the media is not a secret. In fact, it’s often one of the main forces driving his rallies. Calling news outlets Fake News, this relentless attack on Freedom of the Press is nothing new.

We understand that often times media outlets print or run stories that many in the public dislike. Any journalist working in the field today should understand the immense pressures associated with the jobs we do to bring the news to the people each and every day in a straightforward and truthful manner.

We also understand there are media outlets leaning far left and far right, pushing stories that support their associative agendas. It’s the reality of news today.

But this idea that mass media is somehow propping up fake news to tip a perceived scale is part of a larger problem, so no, this is not a commentary on besieged media, but rather, it is a commentary on civility — or lack there of it.

Society today is being dictated by passions rather than logic as more and more people gain their information from unverified news sources and outlets. They are finding this information and, without checking on it, run it on Facebook or Twitter, not understanding — or maybe fully understanding — the effect it is having on our country.

Rallies, both on the left and the right, are tinged with hateful hues of anger and venom as each side attacks the other simply to get the votes they know would follow them anyway. There is no calm discourse anymore and each day the rhetoric inflames, civility dies.

Simply put, it’s so much easier just to post something and move on with your day then choose to inform on the facts that lie before us. This is made that much more difficult when the truth that does come out is simply ignored for the lie.

This nation will never heal itself if we continue on this course. “Here be dragons,” the words warn as we sail closer to the edge.

It will never accomplish those things that need to be accomplished to make sure we remain the greatest nation in the world.

Each day we fight, spit and claw with one another is another day in which the poor go hungry, the sick get sicker and the rights of others find less traction.

We have legitimate issues that need to be addressed: crumbling infrastructure, health care reform and human rights among so many others.

It’s an argument that is becoming old and tired, but nevertheless needs to continue being part of our life and that argument is read, investigate and inform. The truth is often harsh and often disappointing, but nevertheless it is truth and right now that truth will need to be found in the mirror we see ourselves each day.

Democracy is discourse — calm, even-tempered discourse. Whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, our standing in the world is in jeopardy all because we simply won’t talk to each other without jabbing fingers and calling names.

Take time and inform yourself on the world around you. Doubt then verify, question then discuss.

Get involved, vote, volunteer — do something. Social justice is not sharing a meme on Facebook, it’s taking an active role in making the world around you better and understanding that we can no longer afford to take steps backward.