Friday, June 17, 2011

America is not riven by hatred

Walter Ellis has followed up his Irish Times column from earlier in the week with a letter to the editor in today's paper. Ellis says Ireland looking to America for help would be a mistake because "the US is in desperate straits itself these days, uncertain of its place in the world, riven by internal hatreds."

Okay, I agree with the first point and can see the argument for the second (although I don't think this issue is much different than it has been since 1900), but the third point? Is America "riven by internal hatreds?"

I get over to America quite a bit and I haven't noticed any sudden surge in hatred. Political debates seem a bit more heated than was the case 25 years ago, but that's more a new media (talk radio, cable tv as well as online) phenomenon rather than anything all that real.

Too many people make that mistake, confusing the media world with the real world.

I would have thought Ellis, who lives in New York, wouldn't be one as I doubt he encounters anything like the hatred he must have experienced in his native Belfast. No, I would wager that the hatred Ellis is talking about is the excited language used in ratings-driven radio & television programs or in Facebook, Twitter and blog posts.

Real hatred would lead to real violence, but that seems, if anything, to be down from 25 years ago. Violent crime is in decline. Racial tensions are certainly in decline, although, again, politically motivated newspapers would never want that truth to be admitted. And general politically motivated violence? America experiences less of that than you'd get in Athens on what seems like a monthly basis.

America has been riven before and that led to 1 million dead. We're way short of that today.