Shadow of the Flag

We all pledge allegiance to the same red-white-and-blue flag, a symbol of our unity . . .

They seemed to emerge from the shadows. Such as . . .

  • The person who abruptly asked me about my stance on abortion.
  • The fellow that, after claiming all so-called mainstream media lied, refused to share what news sources informed his views.
  • The woman who posted an inflammatory meme about Black Lives Matter—with blatantly fabricated “facts”—that never answered my courteous reply.

In the strange, seductive landscape of social media, I encountered those three people. They are examples of the digital friends and strangers that engaged in (and disengaged from) online conversations about our most divisive subjects: racism, policing, media, and politics.

For me, their responses represent the shadow side of the American experience. We all pledge allegiance to the same red-white-and-blue flag, a symbol of our unity, as it waves over schools, government buildings, homes, sporting events, and more. And yet, a shadow is there, the murky world of our clashing views that split and splinter our country. Citizens express hatred for other citizens with remarkable ease. We thump each other with conflicting, selective facts. We mingle with the “tribes” we claim, comfortably bantering with like-minded folks while berating the “them” that is different from “us.”

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The LIE

I suspect any concession announcement from President Trump’s will mirror one of his most influential—and malicious—political LIES. However, I won’t be surprised if our current president never utters anything acknowledging his defeat or congratulating President-elect Biden.

Citizen Trump was arguably the highest profile “celebrity” to publicly doubt former President Barack Obama’s place of birth. Mr. Trump was a birther. Though there were earlier clues about Trump questioning Obama’s citizenship, his 2011 appearance on Good Morning America represents his flagrant LIE meeting his biggest audience.

Tweets inevitably followed.

When the then New York real estate mogul and former reality TV star came down the Trump Tower elevator to declare his presidential bid in 2015, the LIE was one of his favorite calling cards. Speak or tweet the LIE and reactions followed. Many jeered . . . how wrong and misguided that LIE was. But many, in particular those who were forming his political base, cheered.

Citizen Obama had job interviews, applications to colleges, and campaigned successfully and unsuccessfully for political office. His background was known. Individuals and institutions had endlessly vetted him over the years. Had his citizenship been a question, it would have been questioned early and often. However, there was nothing to question.

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Hawkish Wisdom

hawkOnce we had a predator settle into our neighborhood.

Which fascinated, but didn’t frighten, my wife and me.

What did you think when I mentioned predator? How about if I had written Buteo lineatus instead? Somewhere nearby, probably less than a block away, and way, way up in the one of tallest trees, a red-shouldered hawk had unpacked its suitcase in our neck of the ‘burbs. For weeks, we heard a sharp, repetitive cry across the street. At first, I was convinced it was a bird and probably a robin or blue jay protecting its nest. A few times I wondered if it was a bird in trouble, fallen from nest and parent.

I also imagined the sound could be one of our brash, street smart squirrels. They always seem ready to rumble. Not long ago, I had a squirrel scamper away from me and then dash up a tree. Out of harm’s way, it settled onto a branch to squirp-and-chirp at me. I felt like I was a bad boy and being scolded.

Finally, we spotted Buteo lineatus. A red-shouldered hawk was perched at least twenty feet from the ground, in a tree beside our driveway. Continue reading →

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