Sat, May

We're Living in Separate ‘Alt’ Universes ... ‘Alt-Right’, ‘Alt-Left’, ‘Alt-erior Motives’


LEANING RIGHT--And to think I wanted to discuss my favorite topic--transportation and infrastructure!  But even as President Trump made a push the other day for a sweeping infrastructure executive bill, the horrific events at Charlottesville dominated his ongoing war with the press. 

A delightful, caring woman is dead, two state police officers died en route to the civil unrest at Charlottesville, and both conservatives and liberals are taking umbrage at each other and amongst themselves.  A nation in turmoil, lots of political theater, and the issue of American neo-Nazis and the Confederacy again taking center stage: 

1) The ACLU is pissed off at the Charlottesville police for not preventing violence, and are still defending the rights of neo-Nazis to peacefully march. 

2) Many conservatives have HAD IT with neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and are taking the President to task for not singling out those who started it (the ones with the torches, the Nazi salutes, and the awful flags). 

3) Liberals and moderates (and some conservatives) are demanding that Black Lives Matter and neo-Nazis not be equated, and that the latter is much worse...period. 

4) Conservatives and moderates (and some liberals) are demanding that BOTH the neo-Nazis AND the Antifa goons who came out for violence be condemned and diminished in our society. 

What a free-for-all!  But if it's any consolation, Kim Jong Un is backing off from threatening to fire missiles at Guam ... 

As I touched on in my last CityWatch piece, President Trump asked a reporter just what the "alt-right" is? 

I've heard others proclaim their confusion as well, and Lord knows I am as confused as to what that means as much as when I hear some conservative commentators condemn the "alt-left".  What the heck is the "alt-left", other than a jab at those who critique the "alt-right"? 

Is the "alt-right" comprised of those who are white supremacists and neo-Nazis, or those who have HAD it with "RINOs" and faux-conservatives in the Republican Party? 

Is the "alt-left" comprised of those who are militant socialists and violent anarchists, or those who have HAD it with "limousine liberals" and faux-progressives in the Democratic Party?'' 

Or are these two terms whatever the heck we individually choose them to be? 

After all, so many of us have superimposed our opinions over the facts, and/or have stopped talking to the other side (or those with opposing political views), and so many Republicans and Democrats hate their party leaderships, that the lumping or labeling of anyone appears to be inadequate ... 

... or downright impossible.  People are individuals, and there are enough of us who are "liberal here" and "conservative there" that any lumping or labeling is bound to result in failure or inaccuracy. 

And perhaps that's a good thing, because demonizing someone you've never met, and don't really know, merely because he/she is of a political party or voted/supported someone you didn't like is probably pretty bigoted. 

Suffice it to say that someone who is spirited and opinionated, but listens to and gets along with (and talks to) others with political opinions they hate, is a true American who "keeps politics and religion out of the picture"...or who maybe just doesn't discuss it. 

Remember when politics and religion were not to be discussed? 

I'm a pretty lucky guy--my family and friends are comprised of Trump-haters and Trump-lovers, Bernie-haters and Bernie-lovers, and Obama/Hillary-haters and Obama/Hillary-lovers.  We talk, and steer the conversation waaay clear of any issues that bring acrimony to any discussions. 

Of course, KNOWING which camp the other person lives in is probably a good idea so that one doesn't accidentally step in any landmines.  Should we start wearing buttons to avoid alienating friends and loved ones? 

But clearly each side feels attacked, and clearly each side (and groups within each side) have their own definitions of "alt-right" and "alt-left" which are absolutely NOT shared by others. 

And too many of us are hearing things from other people that are NOT actually being said. 

What's that old Simon and Garfunkel song..."hearing without listening"?  Oh yeah:  "The Sound of Silence". 

Well, we're in that crazy universe now.  That "alt-ernative" universe. 

Go figure.

(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud father and husband to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)



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