In Hyperpartisan America, There's No Room for Compassion
by Leonard Pitts Jr.
A hypothetical scenario:
Your little boy lies in a hospital bed, stricken by a mysterious, potentially fatal disease. You are frightened and in despair.
But your community rallies around you. Soon, the whole town is talking about your ordeal. Neighbors you've never spoken to send cards. Co-workers you've never socialized with send encouraging text messages.
None of it changes the objective fact of your son's condition, doesn't kill a virus, lessen a fever or ease his pain. All it does is tell you that you and your child are being thought of, that you are not alone.
So: So is that "pathetic"?
Or at least, that is what they have said about a roughly analogous situation.
You probably know the story. A terrorist group in
So supporters take to Twitter with a hashtag: #BringBackOurGirls. It spreads like fire.
Does it "solve" the problem? Of course not. Who would be so naive as to think it would? Is it the only thing we should be doing in response? Again, no.
But does the international attention spur
It's hard to see how anyone -- anyone -- could regard that as a bad thing. But at least some political conservatives do. As noted, Limbaugh, Will and the
There is something more than usually saddening about that.
It is a truth curdling into cliche that American politics is riven by a partisan gap, left wing and right wing estranged from each other like the husband and wife in some long, bad marriage. But in its behavior here, the right does not so much seem estranged from a competing ideology as from its own humanity.
How is this a thing? How is an expression of caring, concern and outrage deemed worthy of mockery and condemnation? Are these people truly that corroded with cynicism and bile? Is their criticism now just a tic, a reflex bypassing thought? Is every damn thing to be reduced to politics?
Once upon a time, we put politics to the side when tragedy came. Nowadays, that's something we seem less and less able -- or willing -- to do. That's a tragedy in itself.
Nearly 300 innocent girls were taken by madmen. Celebrities, political figures and everyday people wrote the social media equivalent of a petition to express their concern. That simple gesture begat a controversy -- and gave us a sobering new measurement of that partisan gap.
Apparently, it's so wide even compassion cannot get across.
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Article: Copyright © 2014, Tribune Content Agency
"In Hyperpartisan America, There's No Room for Compassion"