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Melting pot or a boiling pot?

Some folks make their living by using their hands, others by using their mind, but, in both cases, the commonality is that we all use tools of some sort.

It may be a circular saw for a carpenter, a keyboard for a writer, a law library for an attorney. In my case, as a former newspaper publisher, my “tool” was the First Amendment that gives us the right to a free press, along with freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, and the right to petition our government for a redress of grievances.

Sure, there are limitations regarding free speech and the free press. We have established libel and slander laws to protect people against false and damaging accusations. We have laws that prevent speech like yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, which can cause clear and present danger.

Over the years, we have added additional protections for people regarding employment by creating protected classes. We have federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate based on race, religious belief, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, citizenship, family status, disability status, veteran status, and genetic information.

But we have no federal law banning discrimination based on political affiliation.

There are a few states that have laws governing political discrimination, but nothing at the federal level.

With the great political division we see in our country today, along with the overheated rhetoric coming from political leaders, as well as the press — all which has obviously filtered down to the general public — I have to ask myself if it is indeed time to consider adding political views to that long list of discrimination protections.

I grew up in a time when proper etiquette rules were to not openly discuss politics or religion at social gatherings. Wow, does that seem archaic today!

Most of my friendly golf outings end up at a table over a beer and political discussions. And I enjoy all three — golf, beer and political debate. Never once did we get so worked up we started fires, looted businesses, or stormed the clubhouse. Why or why not? Simple. We respect each other and actually enjoy talking about and accepting our differences.

But, after a week of concerning news about Facebook and Twitter dropping President Donald Trump’s accounts, and Google, Apple, and Amazon breaking relationships with Parler, another social media platform, because of its conservative leanings, citing falsely, according to Parler CEO John Matze, that Parler was “partly responsible” for the assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, along with rumors of creating a “blacklist” on former Trump employees, one has to be concerned that the political division in our country has become dangerous to the overall health and wellbeing of not only our nation, but to the very rights of free speech granted to all of us.

The Wall Street Journal had an opinion column by the editorial board on Jan. 12, regarding Stuart Stevens, a senior advisor to the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, quoting him, “We are constructing a database of Trump officials & staff that will detail their roles in the Trump administration & track where they are now.” Other organizations and politicians are calling for a similar blacklist, which could affect future employment opportunities of people who worked in the Trump administration.

That, too, is dangerous.

For generations, we have called ourselves the Great Melting Pot. It comes from our early history of immigration that brought people from all over the world to the U.S. Not that it was without some difficulty and discrimination, but one of the strengths of our society is the merging and acceptance of cultures. The fact we are not a homogenous society, but one with so many different viewpoints, should be celebrated, not discriminated.

So what are we, a melting pot, or a pot of boiling water?

Folks, the answer lies in the middle.

If we are talking politics — and I am — seldom does one side not have to compromise with the other to get things done. Instead of dividing our country into two camps of right and left, wouldn’t it be better, if we have to be divided, to divide us between right and wrong? None of us should have to fear our political affiliations. Will we accept the fact we are all wonderfully different and finding the middle ground will move our country forward, or are we going to throw more fuel on the fire of partisanship and continue down a path of hatefulness?

As soon-to-be President Joe Biden might say, “Come on, man”, which is his was of saying, ridiculous!

He also said during his campaign he wasn’t for red or blue states, but red, white, and blue states.

Wishful thinking, or a change in direction?

Or maybe Congress should join me and my buddies for a round of golf.

Greg Awtry is the former publisher of the Scottsbluff (Neb.) Star-Herald and Nebraska’s York News-Times. He is now retired and living in Hubbard Lake. Greg can be contacted at gregawtry@awtry.com.

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