Whenever I see an equal split of opinion I am at first inclined to guess – as Donald J. Trump himself has said when defending White Nationalist protesters – that there are some very fine people on both sides.
President Trump defended the white nationalists who protested in Charlottesville on Tuesday, saying they included “some very fine people,” while expressing sympathy for their demonstration against the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It was a strikingly different message from the prepared statement he had delivered on Monday, and a reversion to his initial response over the weekend.
Speaking in the lobby of Trump Tower at what had been billed as a statement on infrastructure, a combative Trump defended his slowness to condemn white nationalists and neo-Nazis after the melee in central Virginia, which ended in the death of one woman and injuries to dozens of others, and compared the tearing down of Confederate monuments to the hypothetical removal of monuments to the Founding Fathers. He also said that counter-protesters deserve an equal amount of blame for the violence.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right?” Trump said. “Do they have any semblance of guilt?”
“I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me,” he said.
“You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists,” Trump said. “The press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”
If one hadn’t a purely combative approach to the discussion there is unquestionably a powerful inducement to listen to the other side of an argument. However when the opinion of the “other side” is seemingly couched in misguided conclusions it is less convincing that the ceremony of “hearing what the other side has to say” achieves anything more than token diplomacy. The characterization of competing interests takes on a critical aspect when summarizing the result of a US presidential election – especially one in which the electorate of “Battleground States” is divided almost equally.
There is a popular illusion that elections are an academic forum for settling disputes or disagreements democratically. Judging by what I have witnessed since Trump’s unpredicted election in 2016 his strategy is fraught with narcissism, unintelligence, ignorance and inadequacy. His annoying lies seem founded in a surreal existence from which he cannot escape either by strategy or psychosis.
Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία, dēmokratiā, from dēmos’people’ and kratos ‘rule’) is a form of government in which the people have the authority to choose their governing legislation. Who people are and how authority is shared among them are core issues for democratic theory, development and constitution. Cornerstones include freedom of assembly and speech, inclusiveness and equality, membership, consent, voting, right to life and minority rights.
This assessment naturally conflicts with the more ethereal ambition of cooperation and accommodation. But it highlights the imperative to apply what processes of deduction we have rather than the application of a blanket commitment arising from namby-pamby grot. In the context of syllogism or social propriety there is perhaps little persuasive that can be advanced. On the other hand, keeping in mind that the universe is ultimately personal, we have at our disposal within our arsenal of thought a highly creditable standard. In short, believe what you see; or, as Chris Rock has observed, “What ever happened to crazy!” The corollary of this incisiveness is an equally surgical operation to repute or remove the infection.
Recognizing offensive or unbalanced conduct is not a choice – particularly when the stakes are considered material or significant. There is in other less compelling circumstances tolerance of secrecy or avoidance if the potential conflict is considered unimportant. Yet in either case the necessity lingers to clarify the exact nature of the performance or thesis so that any private consternation at least is settled. It isn’t so much a prescription to prove one is right as it is to recognize what is wrong. Within those two gulfs – the endless divide – lies the possibility of communication.
The answer to conflict doesn’t always lie in a resolution of the putative argument. One party may not understand his or her own personal absorption. Deciphering the exact complaint that seemingly separates the two sides may disclose a hidden conflict – one which neither party prefers to identify. This mustn’t confine the dispute to standing back at a distance. Sometimes a position must be taken or risk the descent into ambiguity which seldom assists either side of a debate. The object is not necessarily to win but rather to reason.