When Will It Stop

Author: Gary Hart

This irrational anger of American against American must stop.  We are more angry at each other than at any time in my long life and it is a danger to our society and our nation.

Within minutes of the Tucson tragedy, at the request of Huffington Post I submitted a commentary entitled “Words Have Consequences”.  Sadly and ironically, almost exactly the same comment was made by Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords during her campaign last fall in response to being put in the political crosshairs, and thus endangered, by a leading opponent.

In response to my HuffingtonPost blog there were two trends: one assumed I was laying blame at the doorsteps of conservative media and political forces, though I did not say so; and second there was a concerted effort to of both ideologies to attack each other.  This is the problem, folks!  My point was not to assess blame.  My point was to rid ourselves of violent language.

When did Americans begin to hate each other?  Was it when we no longer had communists to fear?  Was it the disappearance of our foreign enemy?  Are there Americans who require an evil to demonstrate their patriotism, even if that evil is their neighbor?  When did this search for demons begin and why? 

To those who say, It has always been this way, I say nonsense.  One of the few advantages of age is the remembrance of better times.  It hasn’t always been this way.  In my   blog I said, “America is better than this.”  A stunning number of responses disagreed.  They said we have always attacked and hated each other.  This is not true.  This is false.  Something has gone wrong in recent years. 

Instead of one side or the other saying, It’s their fault, why don’t we all begin to look within our own soul to find out the source of our anger, our bitterness, or divisiveness toward each other.  Unless Americans quit hating each other, our nation will destroy itself.  This hatred and violence is not who we are.  The fault is not in our liberal or conservative stars, my friends, the fault is in ourselves.

14 Responses to “When Will It Stop”

  1. Judith Rose Says:

    This is not the way it’s always been. We have become a nation where basic “manners” in respect of one another have almost disappeared. One of the older ladies who lived in the small village where I lived in Wisconsin, invited all children entering the fifth grade to a luncheon at her home, where they would be taught the etiquette required in a formal dining setting.

    Naturally, she started out with a handwritted invitation, with an RSVP card and return envelope, including dessert. Then she taught them. I was one of those children, and I never forgot a thing. I my first encounter in the out the world outside my small village with formal dining, her words came flooding back to me about silverware usage, when and for what each glass is to be used. Xhe died at age 95 18 months ago, and there’s no one to replace her, and very few children whose mother’s would ensure they attended.

    Civility was taught and reinforced in church and school, parents tried to set a good example for their children. We need to get back to a sense of respect and caring for one another and away from everyone fend for themselves.

    The big question is, “How do we get there again?”

  2. Debbie Lackowitz Says:

    Dear Gary:
    You are right. As usual. If I could just begin with an assessment. No Sir it hasn’t ALWAYS been like this. But though I think for someone in their late 20’s or 30’s it MIGHT seem that way to them. Because during their lives it HAS been. But if I think back to the 60’s (I’m 57) there was division then too Sir. The Vietnam War? And you know what, until those of us of a ‘certain age’ die off, those culture clashes will remain. And they are vicious as we have seen. I think the last time that we as a ‘nation’ came together was in the 1930’s during the Depression. And with FDR during World War II. After that, it’s been it’s been Right/Left, My country right or wrong/or NOT, you get the deal. Post War baby boomers? Are WE the problem? I’m really starting to think we might be. But you are right. We HAVE to begin a national dialogue. One where we actually ‘hear’ each other. And NOW might just be the time and place for it. Thank you Sir for your thoughts today.

  3. Tyler Healey Says:

    Senator,

    Thank you for writing this. I’m starting to think the far left and far right do more harm to our country than good.

  4. Jim Engelking Says:

    It will only stop when each of us, individually, stops. Each of us has the power to stop it. I don’t have to wait for you, but I can act with respect toward you as a fellow human being, and I can do that no matter what you do. You do not control my thoughts or behaviors, I do.

    I am almost your age, Gary, and I agree that it was not always this way, hate for another. The Pima County Sheriff is of similar age, and he knows it was not always this way. He spoke the truth, and some politicians and commentators attacked him or publically disassociated themselves from his remarks. But we know he was right on the money.

    Words have consequences. Speech has consequences. Hate speech inevitably has horrible consequences. At the least, it coarsens our society. At worst, it destroys our society. Is this what we want? It is easy for me to lay blame, but that won’t solve the problem. I must make sure that I am not part of the problem.

    THanks for your thoughts on this terrible tragedy and on the broader question. Cheers. Jim

  5. Brian C. McCarthy Says:

    Senator, I recall reading in your memoir of the 1972 McGovern campaign that, upon learning of the shooting of candidate George Wallace, you slammed your fist down on your desk in anger and frustration. I am sure this weekend’s incident has reawakened a good deal of that frustration, both in you and many others. Hopefully we are not headed back into an era, such as the 60s and early 70s, when assassinations and attempts at assassination would be commonplace. It is really irrelevant whether this weekend’s attack was prompted by the kind of irresponsible statements you discussed in your Huffington Post blog on Saturday; it is telling, though, that many Americans spoke out against such statements after this shooting. Unfortunately, I was simply not shocked to hear of this weekend’s attack; my first thought, sadly, was that I knew something like this was bound to happen eventually given the anger-driven politics that have taken over the country. The intolerance for differing opinions and the tendency to characterize political adversaries as enemies, un-American, and evil may or may not have prompted this particular attack, but I certainly don’t discount the possibility that they will prompt others.

  6. Wanda Leavey Says:

    It is time to restore basic civility, ration, manners and appropriate language to public discourse and debate. It is also time to hold those responsible who incite violence in others by using “hate speech”. There is no time anymore for sensationalist celebrity media hogs with no regard for the consequences of their words or actions. It is a time for action. No more business as usual. Responsibility for Rhetoric. Those who continue to use the mentally unstable and intelligence challenged as pawns for their selfish desires need to be stopped. We have been here before. During the 1930s, a small irrational group of selfish bigots ignored by too many, won elections and established a frightening dictatorship in Germany. In the 1970s, some of us tried to get to our classes dodging the rifles from National Guardsmen. What next? It is time to speak out; being quiet is dangerous. Thank you for speaking out, Sen. Hart.

  7. sandra schroeder Says:

    Dear Sir,

    Have you forgot about Kent State, the KKK the riots in the 60’s and we allways have been a nation of hate toward Gays. Some people can forget when it didn’t involve them?

  8. Bill Michaels Says:

    With all the nut jobs toting guns these days I hope now political figures commonly in the public eye will learn they must use some common sense. Putting cross hairs on your opponet is not common sense! I’m glad that they had enough sense to remove it now from their web site. It’s just too bad they closed the door after the horse ran out of the barn. Those poor people had their lives destroyed.

  9. P. Edward Murray Says:

    No it hasn’t always been this way. When I graduated in 1975 and again in 1980 to work on your campaign in 1984 it certainly wasn’t that way.

    For years now we have had such a proliferation of conservative talk shows, all over the dial and the verbal abuse continues from democratic presisdents right through to republican presidents and so on….

    No one seems to have manners anymore…

    And it’s totally illogical too…

    How can being for the control of the high cost of healthcare be wrong?

    Why is being for American jobs wrong instead of Outsourcing them?

    Why is it that Christians and fellow Catholics are suddenly the enemy?

    Or even standing up for the rights of the least among us…those who are not yet born?

  10. P. Edward Murray Says:

    And why is it suddenly outdated to say that marriage between a man and woman is correct?

    Apparently we have lost our way at a time when we need to pull together for our time as a leader of nation states seems to be drawing to a close….

  11. Daniel J. Lavigne Says:

    Unfortunately, this attack will prompt others. That it shall is due the current nature of “Politics” in America. Gone are the days when the best and the brightest accepted their duty to contribute what they could to the commons. We are left with poseurs and other greed driven individuals who care not about the health and viability of the nation. At best, they are guided by insatiable desires to build / improve their “Bottom Line”.

    If America is to address and arrest this frightening development, it shall require a commitment by ALL Americans to be loyal and allegiant to “The Rule Of Law”, and all that such requires of us.

    There is no other way. Absent that acceptance of “The Rule Of Law”, America will continue on its downward spiral to a collapsed state.

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  12. Tom Gleason Says:

    Gary: I do not believe Americans hate each other. The overwhelming majority of Americans are not at all like the deranged and hate-filled Tucson shooter; they are very much like the courageous and selfless individuals who risked their own lives to subdue the gunman and provide aid to strangers.

  13. Pat Boice Says:

    Excellent article, Sen. Hart! I am 77 and do not remember any time that was as poisonous as the current one. Probably many things have contributed to this, such as the 24/7 “news”, fostered anger at “the government” particularly since it was declared “the problem, and not the solution”, the $millions paid to those who spout anger and lies (we know who they are!), and anonymous blogs where people say the most outrageous things – none of these things facilitate rational discussion. I don’t remember anything compared to the incident of a U.S. Representative shouting out “You lie!” to the President of the United States during an address to Congress! Personally, I’ve stopped reading most blogs, and don’t listen to much TV anymore, and I’ve certainly determined not to contribute personally to the hatred and irrationality we’re experiencing.

  14. David Brown Says:

    Hate is natural for humans — but, some seem to thrive on it. I am eighty now and remember well, the bullies from school, the hatred for Japanese Americans. Business owners treated their employees very badly in those days.
    Frustration plays a big role in hatred. Now that Corporate America has gained absolute control of our government, there is a lot of frustration and most don’t know what to do about it. They know that our future will be very different from our past and not for the better. Times are very much more difficult for everyone except the very wealthiest amoung us. Even that may not last.

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