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Shout Shows: Internet Vitriol Makes Me Reluctant To Share My Views Online

| June 19, 2014

'Just Before the Smile' (Monch)

‘Just Before the Smile’ (Monch)

By Ed H. Moore

“Obama administration claims al Qaeda leadership has been decimated. Guess they meant divided into ten parts. See Iraq.”

With these words I started an interesting exchange on Facebook.

Ed H. Moore

Ed H. Moore

More often than not, any post that has even a hint of “for or against” Obama or any Washington political actions provokes vitriolic responses. I lament the angry replies because they hamper the ability to have an instant town-hall of sorts on issues facing our country.

But this social medium usually fails to generate enlightening content. More often, it generates hostility, ad hominem attacks, and a bias so intense that you can tell from the first read that any rational response is a waste of time.

I can recall an old adage: “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” Often, it is the mental blinders we can place upon ourselves to prevent seeing another’s point of view and maybe come to realize that there is validity in another’s argument.

Of late, I have often decided to refrain from responding to some posts. I am amused when some people contend they are open-minded politically moderate and they launch an assault upon those dastardly right-wing Neanderthals and Tea Party crazies, or just as often a reference to the lunacy of the left.

I often see posts complaining that politicians just can’t seem to solve our country’s vexing problems followed by an attack on any politician who dares to reach across the aisle seeking a sensible compromise.

context floridaCritics call them a RINO (Republican in Name Only) or a DUCK (Democrat Under Cover). This tendency has reached such proportions that the recent campaign between Eric Cantor and David Brat had each trying to paint the other as a liberal. If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be laughable.

To accuse Cantor of being a liberal is absurd. Likewise for Cantor to run advertising implying that Brat is a liberal because he’s a college professor also is laughable. The Cantor team must be listening to too many talk-radio commentators who claim that all professors are trying to brainwash all of the students into believing that government is the solution to all the nation’s problems.

I have more faith in the quality of our students and our institutions. It provides an easy boogeyman and makes for good copy.

Let’s go back to my original post and my use of “decimated.” This was Obama’s word choice. He contended al Qaeda was finished.

I also recall in a debate with Mitt Romney how he dismissed Romney’s claim that the Russians were a big threat, claiming derisively that “The 1980s are calling. They want their foreign policy back.” It seems the two major international problems on the president’s desk today are due to the Russians and al Qaeda.

A review of history has several definitions of decimation. It was originally a word that applied to the Romans punishing soldiers by drawing lots in groups of 10 with nine assigned the killing of the 10th. In the Middle-Ages, it referred to tithing.

Common use means to destroy or render ineffective by reduction. None of these apply to al Qaeda.

Ed H. Moore, President of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, writes and lives in Tallahassee.

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35 Responses for “Shout Shows: Internet Vitriol Makes Me Reluctant To Share My Views Online”

  1. Concerned says:

    I’m confused. You’re an educator who writes an essay the subject of which the reader is left scratching his head in confusion. Is this articles about Obama/al Quada, Cantor/Brat, dumb commenters or what exactly? Hm-mmm, perhaps this is indicative of where education might have gone astray…

    • Pogo says:

      You’re not confused. The emperor is naked as a jaybird.

      If you know the rest of us reject the nonsense you’re selling, you can just state opinions as facts (because you say so – that’s why!) add a non sequitur as you please and never but never mention big daddy Koch, Scaife, 501(c)(3) organizations, 501(c)(4) organizations, etc, et al, LLC! paying the way. I’ve been reading this drivel for over 50 years.

      Before the ‘online’ world came into being it wasn’t even considered respectable by most people. It was obscure fringe reactionary smoke spread by well heeled cranks who self published. After it was possible to spread it much more widely ‘online’ the Kochs and their ilk started hatching think tanks faster than a promiscuous profligate spreading an std. Suddenly, the John Birch Society, and its relatives were institutes, societies, and associations. Instead of what they were formerly: what you saw running for cover when you turned on a light.

      It all makes perfect sense if you’re a fanatic; grotesquely selfish, were born with more money than God, and/or are willing to say anything to earn a buck.

      There is a cure:

  2. Steve Wolfe says:

    Wow. Any more?

  3. NortonSmitty says:

    : “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

    Isaac Asimov, American science fiction writer and professor of biochemistry (1920-1992)

  4. barbie says:

    This assumes we should believe everything we’ve ever been told about “Al Queda”.

  5. Retired FF says:

    I would say that decimated is a good word to describe what the Obama Administration has done to our country.

  6. ken says:

    The writer nails it! The following from his article about Obama “I also recall in a debate with Mitt Romney how he dismissed Romney’s claim that the Russians were a big threat, claiming derisively that “The 1980s are calling. They want their foreign policy back.” It seems the two major international problems on the president’s desk today are due to the Russians and al Qaeda.” is crucial to understanding how either dishonest, incompetent or both Obama is. Has there ever been a worse president than Obama?

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Yes. About six years ago.

    • TJ says:

      What has russia done to threaten the US exactly? Are you talking about Ukraine? They are not the 51st state.

      • Steve Wolfe says:

        TJ, no it isn’t the fight we need to be in. Nor the latest mad-dog craziness in Iraq. But a cursory look at history reveals that wherever the United States has maintained a presence after turmoil there has been relative calm. Japan, Europe, and even South Korea, who’s neighbor is run by another mad dog, all enjoy relative peace, have good economies, and good standard of living for a large middle class. That’s only valid as long as the U.S. maintains a big stick policy, which gives aggressive states reason to pause. Even Putin is pushing international law because of weak U.S. foreign policy, which essentially removes any substantive opposition to his imperialism. Putin, essentially a simple bully, saw weakness and acted accordingly, per the template of all his type. And he is still aggravating Ukraine to fight so he can move his tanks and planes in and take the rest. Europe doesn’t want this guy as an immediate neighbor, but in their usual fashion, they are just bending over. The fact is, the world needs a hegemonic leader, and the U.S. is the only nation qualified. The U.N. is too lame to organize disaster relief without corruption, and certainly provides no pause to imperialism. We need to keep our economic strength so we can be the hegemon. The world needs the stability only the U.S. has a demonstrated capability to provide. Yes, one can find American corporations that exploit, but this is reality, and no fairy tale ending was ever promised to the real world. There will always be human generated issues to respond to no matter what other conditions prevail. But a hegemonic U.S. is better than a weak U.S. for all of us, unless you’re a bad guy bent on taking over sovereign nations.

  7. NortonSmitty says:

    “The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.”

    Bertolt Brecht, the 20th century German playwright and poet

  8. m&m says:

    Obama has had one goal since elected and that was to DESTROY this great ciuntry.. So far he’s on schedule with two years to go..

  9. Jim R. says:

    To be politically aware today means that you know the political system has been so corrupted by money as to be irrelevant. Voting is just making a choice between candidates that serve the interests of the MIC and the corporate rulers who are responsible for the corruption.

  10. Geezer -Eats Cuban Sandwiches says:

    It appears that the population of informed voters (those who actually reasearch candidates)
    has been “decimated.” American politicians have long known that the voter is mostly ill-informed,
    easily swayed by good looks, simple names (Rick Scott?), catch phrases, and eleventh-hour
    manufactured scandals.

    It’s not that we’re a dumb nation, but a gullible deferrential one, who is continually under-served
    by slanted media and outright prominent LIARS.

    This may very well be a terminal illness for our republic – sad to say.

    • Steve Wolfe says:

      I kinda think that politics has always been this way except for the use of modern tools to make it even
      more so, and keeping with the culture, which has also grown more cynical. The access to such cynical chatter makes it seem like it can’t get any worse, but I’m an optimist, and I believe it can and will.

      • Geezer Sipping Espresso says:

        It’s sad is that people have a veritable world of knowledge at their fingertips,
        thanks to this world of interconnected computers – but most use these tools
        for games, mindless texting, entertainment, and other nonsense.

        We’re pretty much addicted to technology – not to the pursuit of knowledge
        that’s there for our assimilation. It’s a shame.

        I hope you’re right Steve.
        I want to be wrong about this.

  11. Jim R. says:

    The news media’s function is to spread disinformation and promote the interests of the warfare state.
    In the current situation in Iraq the media is seeking the opinions of the same criminals that were the cheerleaders for GWB s illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. If there are ever war crime trials for what we have done to the people of Iraq, (fat chance) the news media propagandists should be the first to face justice, and they should hang them, every one of them that promoted the lies that enabled the death and destruction that we brought on Iraq and its people.

  12. Jim R. says:

    Steve Wolfe
    A great super patriots argument for American Exceptionalisim, Guess what, its nothing new, every empire that ever existed thought of itself as a force for good while it went around the world conquering and slaughtering other people. Your comment ” unless you’re a bad guy bent on taking over sovereign nations”
    is laughable considering the number of sovereign nations we are droning , bombing and have ongoing black ops in. the difference between our empire and past ones is we don’t want to occupy other nations we just want them to do as we tell them and to take over any resources in their countries that our corporations covet.
    MLK had it right when he said “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government”

    • Steve Wolfe says:

      Well I encourage you to laugh as hard as you wish in appreciation for what our military has done for us, namely ensure our liberties, keep our country peaceful enough to permit us to banter back and forth, and render assistance to less fortunate nations across the globe more than any other. Some of that assistance is in the form of killing bad guys for them. Sadam needed killing, but that region of the world needs more than we can give. The turmoil to come may convince many of the need for the U.S. to return to the position of the previous late century, when much was achieved by peace through strength. We are the only nation capable. And we can all help steer the ship of state through our voices and our votes, which is not a position many other nation’s citizens find themselves in.


    I’ve long said this nation has become so polarized that the only acceptable response to an opposing viewpoint is vitriol, ridicule and name-calling. Many, if not most, people simply cannot accept any viewpoint other than their own.

  14. Jim R. says:

    When did Saddam need killing, was it when he was gassing the Kurds? when we were backing him in his war with Iran? when Rumsfield was hugging him?
    Our voices and votes are steering the ship of state and our military has ensured our liberties, now there are two comments that can only be the result of fantastical thinking. I guess you haven’t noticed that this country is fast becoming a police state, and is governed by one party (R/D) which refuses to allow any opposition from another party, and that my friend is the definition of Totalitarianism.
    It’s not even the political party that governs anyway it’s the guys behind the curtain.
    This country has never been less free, nor had a population so brainwashed.

    • Concerned says:


    • Steve Wolfe says:

      Saddam was eligible for killin pretty early on. But definitely throughout his reign in Iraq. Now I was one who was hopeful that the Iraqi people would embrace liberty after so much tyranny. Then I was hopeful too that it would spread throughout the region, and the warring factions would grow up and catch up with the rest of the civilized world. I also realized that the effort could be as dangerous as swatting a very large bee hive. So I got it right either way. And Saddam’s tyranny was in the end the only thing that kept his natives less warring than those with more liberty. There’s just something very different over there. This liberty idea must be a pretty localized western cultural thingy. Maybe a Christian engineered idea, as the Founders seemed to allude. But is tyranny the only legitimate means they have to mimic civility? Is it the culture that bereft of simple human dignity?

      Now as for our police state, you and I are getting much closer. Yeah, I see it. But I also see a correction ahead, one this year and another in two more years. It has become quite predictable over my lifetime. It’s cyclical. When a Conservative is elected Prez, it is soon followed by a swing the opposite direction in the Legislature as a correction by the people. Then everyone seems to get fatigued over the Prez and the office goes the other way next election. The current guy has pulled us far left, and it has made me very uncomfortable with our government. We are literally in a state of fearing our government, of which one of the Founders (maybe Jefferson) said, “When the people fear the government there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.” Yes, I’m a student of history and government. I am just trying to avoid vitriol in this particular post. And yes, I agree that the current political parties are nearly in collusion to continue the current trend towards tyranny. And I also see the strings attached to the political players, strings made of money. The politicians don’t even make the decisions directly, their aide staffs do, and the politicians are more or less mouthpieces for their own little machines, as pulled by the strings.
      And the brainwashing….I feel so sad for the parents that pay so much to put their kids through college only to have them spout mindless prattle when asked about current events, politics, the history of their own nation, etc. Zero return on investment. It’s very disheartening. But that isn’t vitriolic to say, is it?

  15. Jim R. says:

    Can you explain how Obama has pulled us to the left? There has been no significant raise in the min wage, no extension of unemployment benefits ,no regulation of Wall Street, the banks or corporations and the ACA benefits a few people but for the most part it’s a gift to the insurance companies- high premiums for lousy ins with high deductibles.
    When the republicans call Hilary a far left liberal it’s enough to make anyone with a brain want to run down the street screaming and pulling their hair out.
    The sad truth is there is no left, left. Hilary is just like her husband who sold out the liberal wing of the Democrat party and the working class. The legislation passed during Bill Clintons time in office is the reason this country is in the shape it’s in, Repealing Glass/ Stegal led to the crimes of the banking industry , NAFTA destroyed the working class and led to massive offshoring of whole industries. The telecommunications act that allowed consolidation of media and has as a result turned the news programs into propaganda outlets for the corporate and MIC. interests. All of these things are right wingers wet dreams and accomplished under a Democrat
    Obama has done nothing to change these disasters, of course he couldn’t even if he wanted to because most of the DEMS vote right along with the REPS.
    So tell me where I can find these far leftists that the right wing is screaming about, any real leftist will never get any time or space in the MSM,

    • Steve Wolfe says:

      The direction of the country is definitely to the left in the body of expansive, intrusive and over regulatory government. When you mentioned the police state you acknowledged the source, which is expansive, intrusive and over regulatory government. We really need a big flush in Washington. It has come to disgrace his name. There seems to be no one there who knows what the man stood for or willing to defend it.

  16. Jim R. says:

    It’s the lack of and roll back of regulation that has caused the problems we face. What would you deregulate that would benefit the people and not some corporation?

    • Steve Wolfe says:

      Those evil corporations make jobs. I’d dereg quite a bit. More regs=more cost=fewer jobs or lower pay and benefits. Also higher cost=higher prices for goods. Take energy for example. Obama wants to regulate coal fired power plants out of business. He knows and stated that his policy would cause electricity bills to “skyrocket.” Nice fella, huh? And what do you suppose all that growth of government is for? It is intended to regulate your life. I’d definitely drop some of that. I think you’re doing a fine job yourself without it, don’t you?

  17. Jim R. says:

    That sums up the mean and selfish nature of the rightwing. Screw my grandchildren , as long as I’ve got cheap electricity, who cares if they can breath the air or if the oceans die due to acid rain

    • Steve Wolfe says:

      Well it was a great Sunday trading views with you, Jim, all vitriol aside. Two of my grandchildren are with me for the month. I love them very much and care deeply about their futures. I just think that a robust economy provides more solutions than problems for our country’s future, so I’ll hang my hat on the side of liberty. Free people develop far more ideas than slaves. Capitalism trumps socialism. Thomas Jefferson said that his study of history led him to conclude that the government that governs best is the one that governs least. Our own government is proving him correct once again.

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