Opinion

In the Internet age, today’s political divides are reminiscent of Civil War-era divides

Due to the recent events in Charlottesville, I am reminded of the American Civil War, and how today’s political climate resembles that conflict. In the Internet Age, our political disagreements take place on more of a virtual battlefield. Online trolls and “pundits” have increased the divide between conservative and liberal opinions with their brash words. During the neo-Nazi gathering, online commenters were fruitlessly blaming each other for the spread of hatred.

Instead of waging this war online, it is important for Americans to understand that the country had already experienced a conflict fought in the same southern towns that these demonstrations are taking place. Next month, more cities might have to brace themselves for the prospect of these gatherings due to the ongoing debate of the removal of Confederate monuments. The events of two weeks ago should not happen again in a city where a war was waged over a century ago. We should refrain from drawing attention to online trolls and sick political thought, lest we think of erecting new memorials to the fallen soldiers of another Civil War.

We should instead embrace our differences and do what President Trump said in his second statement on Charlottesville and love each other. That means we should ignore social agitators and bring attention to the growing inequalities that we face. For every action that someone takes in a social place, whether it be kneeling during the national anthem or supporting Donald Trump, they are blasted for it online. Social media is a major driver for these negative interactions, and these platforms are not going anywhere.

One of the reasons these conflicts happen is because Internet users often do not realize that they are talking – or arguing – with a real person. Like the Civil War, where combatants would either see blue or gray on the opposite side of the battlefield, many commentators today only see red or blue.

For a nation, this is not healthy behavior and ultimately leads to the kinds of events we saw in Virginia. The country must also face its demons of the past, including the Civil War and slavery, to become a more united force for good in the world.

The supreme leader of Iran recently tweeted that America needs to solve its own problems before lecturing other countries. This type of ridicule is a way for our diplomatic enemies to weaken our diplomatic efforts. Instead of attacking one another over removing historical monuments, we should build new ties between ourselves to stop more battles in our streets and around the world.

Joseph Krupar is a sophomore majoring in political science.

Featured photo courtesy Flickr user Sebastien Wiertz.


Read Keenan Mintz’s Letter to the Editor about the events in Charlottesville.

August 22, 2017

Reporters

Joseph Krupar


ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “In the Internet age, today’s political divides are reminiscent of Civil War-era divides”

  1. Tony Severyns says:

    In addressing the Southern Historical Society on February 18, 1874, Benjamin Hill referred to Robert E. Lee as “The Marble Man”:

    He was a foe without hate, a friend without treachery, a soldier without cruelty, a victor without oppression, and a victim without murmuring. He was a public officer without vices, a private citizen without wrong, a neighbour without reproach, a Christian without hypocrisy, and a man without guile. He was a Caesar, without his ambition, Frederick, without his tyranny, Napoleon, without his selfishness, and Washington, without his reward.

    Lee was also, following the end of the war, a man without a country.
    On August 5th, 1975 a joint resolution by both houses of Congress was signed into law by President Gerald Ford, finally giving Robert E. Lee, the man without a country for 110 years, full rights of citizenship. As President Ford said:

    This legislation corrects a 110-year oversight of American history….Lee’s dedication to his native State of Virginia charted his course for the bitter Civil War years, causing him to reluctantly resign from a distinguished career in the United States Army and to serve as General of the Army of Northern Virginia. He, thus forfeited his rights to U. S. citizenship….

    Lee’s character has been an example to succeeding generations, making the restoration of his citizenship an event in which every American can take pride.

    Today those citizens who remember their history honor the birth of a man who, when faced with hard choices, made the one that reflected his character, integrity, and loyalty to eternal principles.

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