Our Nation: Divided

Abigail Massar

"We are a nation divided. That's what they tell us, right?" The ad shows us that we are a country split, while film pans across the rallying protesters it goes on to say, "what they don't tell you, what doesn't make the news, is this: We carry each other forward."

The commercial features shots of an Africa- American protester hugging the police, softball players carrying a player from another team around the bases, soldiers carrying a wounded comrade, and an aid worker rescuing a victim of a home flooded by Hurricane Katrina. "No matter who we are, or what we believe, or where we come from, we've had the privilege to carry a century of humanity;" as ad pictures a variety of people from many different backgrounds, including black-and-white shots of 20th century immigrants in New York, their point is strengthened by telling a story we’ve as Americans have never seen before. Scenes roll through as the car company, Cadillac, reminds people of its place in America's history featuring Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali and Dwight D. Eisenhower posing with their vintage cars. They state, "but maybe what we carry isn't just people. It's an idea. That while we're not the same, we can be one. And all it takes is the willingness to dare."

This commercial not only struck me because of its deviation from the media’s normal jingoism, but also the fact that commercials like these never get into the mainstream “news.” Commercials that show daily dissonance between its citizens and which illustrate the strain between conservatives and liberals, black and white people, Muslims and Christians, and Gay and straight people, may not be the reality which we live in. To push their agenda, media outlets and journalists force their opinions into articles transcribing them into “fact.” This, only for their own benefit: profit.

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This video inspired me to write about the chasm we live in, our nation - as a divided entity. Because of its variance from what we are usually fed (media) as consumers (viewers). In hopes to not pontificate, I want to give you my take, my point of view, about all of this chaos; because it may surprise what your idea of me was, is, or was soon to be - and you may even surprise yourself.

From Media

Lynnie Z. (New York Times)

We scroll, like, favorite, react and comment on the posts that go by on our little 5.4 inch screens we call “smartphones.” Without getting into a debate with you or Mr. Kellogg on whether they are “smart” or not, nor if “sure” as an answer is viable or just simply a deodorant brand - we all know we’re surrounded by the media everywhere we venture. But what they don’t tell you is that it is slanted or misconstrued. Regarding the recent news about “fake news”, I’d care not to discuss it, that’s not what my OpEd Article is about. Fake news is more propaganda which deliberately publishes hoaxes and disinformation purporting to be real news (Wikipedia). (Real ironic that I just used Wikipedia to cite something)

I want to write about the news which only declares that we are in discord with each other, a country where nobody race, color or creed can form bonds and care for one another. That is what I don’t believe. I ask: why isn’t the goodness of our nation being publicized? Why do we only see intolerance, hatred, and parochialism?

I recently read an article, while researching this topic, titled “What Biracial People Know” by Moises Velasquez-Manoff on the Huffington Post’s Website. It got me thinking, along with the striking images pictured here. Within the first few paragraphs, the author establishes his viewpoint on the topic by first stating his political views on President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama. Still yet an opinion piece, those are the only ones you can find on the “Opinion” tab. In some cases, if you really read in-between the lines, subtle rhetoric is infused throughout even the news articles on the Huffington Post, The New York Times, etc. Here I will discuss the news we’ve been fed throughout the last eight years and state and dynamic between the executive branch and the Fourth Estate; where us, the Fifth Estate discusses it.

As of late, there has been much discussion and consternation concerning the topic of “fake news.” Even the meaning of “fake news” has some controversy; however, not as much as the raucous discussion as to the true “perpetrators” of the topic. According to a faction of the Right, the true perpetrators are the “mainstream media” and its Democratic surrogates. Naturally, according to the “mainstream media, “ the instigators of “fake news” are the Republicans and most notably Donald Trump who has called out the media on numerous occasions.

If we look over the past eight years, many conservatives will illustrate the incidences where former President Obama chastised the “conservative media” (usually Fox News) for misrepresenting him and his administration with news he felt did not properly characterize his actions or comments. For instance, Obama saying Fox “is entirely devoted to ‘attacking my administration" (June 16, 2009, CNBC's "Closing Bell"). Or, for an instance he felt he was not being treated fairly (sound familiar lately…), "I want to repeat -- because somehow this never shows up on Fox News…” (September 20, 2015, Remarks by the President at the Congressional Black Caucus 45th Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner). Also, who could forget who former President Obama blamed for the IRS and Benghazi scandals: "And they believe it because folks like you tell them that,” Obama said, adding on the IRS scandal: "These kinds of things keep on surfacing, because folks like you will promote them." (February 2, 2014, Interview With Bill O'Reilly).
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Furthermore, to the many media pundits who accuse President Trump of trying to destroy the Fourth Estate, who could forget former President Obama stating, "Look, as president, I swore to uphold the Constitution, and part of that Constitution is a free press. We've got a tradition in this country of a press that oftentimes is opinionated. The golden age of an objective press was a pretty narrow span of time in our history. Before that, you had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints. I think Fox is part of that tradition — it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It's a point of view that I disagree with. It's a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world." (October 14, 2010, Rolling Stone Magazine). Lastly, who did former President Obama hold partially responisble for Hillary Clinton's election loss:
Lynnie Z. (New York Times)
"In this election, [they] turned out in huge numbers for Trump. And I think that part of it has to do with our inability, our failure, to reach those voters effectively. Part of it is Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country..." (November 29, 2016, Rolling Stone Magazine).

As of January 2017, during the Trump Administration, the idea of “fake news” and the debate between liberals and conservatives is the continuation of the ongoing dynamic. Through the prism of our ideologies and the political lens: shouldn’t the news just be t
he news. “We are a nation divided;” fake news and non-fake news is blurred by political ideology. “No matter who we are or what we believe or where we come from” should tell us that we shouldn't look at each other through that political lens; the story should be the story. With no bias, no prejudgement - that’s what journalism should be about.

“While we’re not the same, we can be one.”