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.