The most disturbing trend in American politics for me personally is not the election of Obama, Trump, or the near miss we had with Hillary. What really concerns me is how Americans increasingly see our republic as a zero-sum game in which there are two ideologies represented, one good, and one evil. The Sith versus Jedi paradigm is a childish lens through which to view American politics. Democracy is based upon the idea of compromise within a system that all citizens can derive some benefit and utility from.
The feeling I have been getting for a long time, especially this last year, is that Americans are now viewing each other not as fellow citizens but actually as evil monsters out to destroy our country if they are not completely in ideological alignment with whatever the “right ideas” are. I would expect to see this attitude in the former USSR or in North Korea, but never in the United States. The polarization of politics in America leads to people pooling into one of several uncompromising positions. I’m frightened for our future because when people begin to see politics as a zero sum game, that means it is okay to kill the person you disagree with.
Why wouldn’t you? It’s all or nothing, right? The person you’re killing is a George Soros funded globalist hellbent on taking away your constitutional rights and is in league with America’s enemies. The person you’re killing is a Koch brothers funded science-denying redneck who hates black people, and is also in league with America’s enemies. You can kill that person, because like a grim shadow of Rwanda, it isn’t like they are really human in the first place.
So, that brings us to the current controversy around echo chambers, fake news, and media bias. SOFREP’s writers and editors usually don’t even read the Facebook comments on our articles as we find most people just read the headline and then post an emotional response. Don’t get me wrong, we like hearing from readers and are open to disagreements and further discussion, but we have to compare apples to apples first. That reminds me of a Special Forces veteran who contacted me about how inaccurate an article I wrote was. After going back and forth a few dozen times, he conceded that he did not actually read the article. I felt embarrassed for him.
That said, we get a lot of these types of comments lately:
What the commenters are saying is that they want SOFREP to provide confirmation bias for their pre-conceived views. More than just that, I find that there is a large contingent on the internet that seems to truly believe that we should just stop reporting anything about President Elect Donald Trump. Hiding in their safe space under their bed sheets, they scream, “LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!” But it isn’t the news media’s job to leave anyone alone. Back in 2008 when America was experiencing Obama-mania I was one of those trying to bring people back down to Earth. I’m doing the same today. These are human beings working within our current political framework, not saints shooting lighting bolts out of their asses at America’s enemies.
Left-wing media, centrist media, right-wing media, fringe news, fake news, conspiracy theory news, whatever it is, there is also a case to be made for you, the reader, as a thinking and engaged human being who is capable of critical thinking. That’s right, you are a person with your own thoughts and ideas. You can reason through things and don’t have to be spoon-fed ideas by any media outlet.
This is the case for self-responsibility. We try to do as good a job as we possibly can at SOFREP, and we are taking steps to do even better. That said, we are not an oracle of truth. Neither is that other news outlet that confirms your own political bias and tells you what you want to hear. It isn’t the media’s job to harmonize itself into one congruent message of unification around your favored ideology. It is the media’s job (think big picture, the media includes Hollywood, ect) to inform and entertain. It is the journalist’s job to provide the facts, and even the truth, as best as they can. Then you take this information and weigh it against your own research and experience.
This is why the whining about media bias, like the complaints about propaganda in our universities, always struck me as a cop-out. It takes the power out of the hands of individual Americans and places the onus on large institutions that are inherently susceptible to corruption, path dependency, and soul crushing bureaucracy. I’m an American and still want to believe in rugged individualism after all. Some mega-corporation is never going to have the monopoly on truth that we can all go to and suckle on like newborn calves.
Don’t mistake confirmation bias for media bias. There is a difference between what we want to hear and what we need to hear. The day that our thoughts and ideas are unified into a single ideological message is the day that America is truly extinct. If you are waiting for SOFREP to become a safe space, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed, because our mandate is quite the opposite.