This morning, around 350 US-based newspapers — and perhaps others around the world — will participate in an effort defending freedom of the press and pushing back against Donald Trump’s attacks on the media.
The day’s coordinated effort was organized by the Boston Globe, which asked other newspapers to run on August 16 editorials denouncing what it called a “dirty war against the free press.”
“Trump has routinely attacked the press as a whole as well as individual reporters, labeling factually accurate reports “fake news” and calling the news media “the enemy of the people,” writes the UK-based Guardian, which is one of the newspapers outside of the United States participating in the effort.
OsoyoosToday has determined as well to join that effort, but we will leave it for you to find elsewhere the rhetoric about what Mr. Trump is writing about and doing to the press.
Rather, we will take encouragement from Robert Reich, who correctly points out that the biggest evil Mr. Trump has visited on his nation — and perhaps others — is that people with differing views on the US president “have stopped talking to each other.”
But is this new abnormality — where a person is either for Mr. Trump or against Mr. Trump, with very little wiggle room in the middle — the president’s doing alone?
No, the polarization that has gripped political discussion is a decidedly online phenomenon. Many of us have placed ourselves — or have allowed ourselves to be placed — in silos where the rhetoric, discussion and general banter invariably aligns with our own feeling and perceptions on a particular topic.
Even when we stand at the proverbial water fountain or coffee pot and engage in face-to-face conversation, we rely heavily on what we have learned online as we spar.
This polarization is fracturing our country and it requires efforts from both sides if we are ever again to find a way back to “common ground.”
Mr. Reich, who served Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and is now a professor at the University of California-Berkley, suggests a number of steps each of us can take to begin talking to each other again.
You can view his video on this process here. We’ll simply say that key among his suggestions is finding ways to begin the discussion without invoking Donald Trump.
Instead ask about personal experiences involving the issues and share yours with others and asking them why they think all of this has happened. Do we have a “system” in place that encourages this divide? If so, how do all the “bigs” — Big Oil, Big Banks, Big Pharma and others — play into all this?
But perhaps of greater value is the capacity such discussion can have on our own local politics — and the perceived differences we have in the community we call home.
Perhaps by connecting on a personal level, sharing our own personal experiences rather than lamenting what might happen or “probably occurred” we can find common ground here as well.
We will encourage you to do one more thing as well: do some research.
Before you adopt a position based solely on what you have read or heard online — remember the old adage “believe half of what you see and none of what you hear” — try to confirm the “facts” delivered to you from a source independent from the original purveyor.
Locally, read Council reports and check footage from video recording every open Council meeting.
The online meat grinder is just as alive and busy in Osoyoos as it is in Washington, DC.
We don’t have a Donald Trump screaming fake news every hour on the hour or inciting violence against the community’s media — which, frankly, does a pretty damn good job providing information to the community — but there’s no question we have our differences.
Maybe today, as the world focuses on Donald Trump, we can find a way to sit down to civil discussion ourselves — and work out some of our own perceived ills.
Now wouldn’t that be a nice lift for our community.