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    Richard Eber, California Political News and Views

    This is a very sad story which I am afraid has been repeated thousands of times of late. Polarization between the left and right has become so pronounced that the two sides have lost the ability to be civil with one another.

    For me, this moment came when one of the individuals in the Curmudgeons Political Coffee Club on Saturday morning I attend, proudly put out a post as a letter to the editor of the East Bay Times which read:

    Why highlight a guy who is an obvious bigot, who has no interest in the common good, and who hates liberals, per se?  These are the people who move to Arizona into communities that pride themselves on not paying taxes for the local schools.   These are the people who support the divisive policies of Donald Trump and the “make America white again” movement.  

    After reading this rant I asked Jimmy what made this conservative guy, who was leaving the state, a “bigot” and likely a racist -Nazi type.  To this I was told:  ‘The opposition to “an open immigration policy” is the give-away.  This is bigot stuff.” This Jimmy further explained:

    Are you talking about the northern or southern border?   That makes a difference, if you are only talking about the southern border.   Most who talk about not wanting open immigration are not talking about European immigrants or Canadian or even Asian, for the most part.   They are talking about people who have dark skin and who may not know English that well. That translates into the people like that who already live here, for the most part.   The guy in the paper sounded like he only had   interest living near to those of Anglo Saxon descent. “

    After this exchange of views I basically cried “Uncle”.  What did controlling the Canadian border have to do with the problems with Mexico?  There was no crisis going on up North. How could my concern for dealing with the horde of illegal immigrants entering the USA from the South make me a hater of these folks? (Especially considering my son in laws families both hail from this region)

    At this point it would have been easy for me to drop the whole matter.  I have known the people who hang out at the Curmudgeons Club for many years and believe they are well intentioned-decent individuals. Much like me, at times they tend to act in the “Look before you Leap” mode, made famous by Aesop’s Fables.

    However, in this instance I wasn’t willing to hide behind the skirts of “We hate conservatives but you are OK” pronouncements which often follow heated political discussions of this kind.

    I explained Webster’s dictionary refers to a bigot as a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices with hatred and intolerance.

    Notice the similarities between your beliefs Jimmy and those you depict as bigots because they oppose open immigration policies.  By what you think, I am a bigot because of believing my country has to control its borders in terms of who is allowed into the USA and what goods cross from foreign countries to our sovereign soil.

    A different legitimate take was made by one of the other leftist Curmudgeons present last Saturday who argued that because of the spotty record of the United States, especially during WWII of rejecting Jews fleeing Hitler’s Germany, that our country presently has the moral obligation to welcome all those fleeing tyranny.

    To such a notion I can only say the USA has made mistakes in the past but is by and large is the most generous country in the World welcoming refugees from all regions.  We should not mire ourselves in guilt.

    It must also be noted that the vast numbers of people we have accepted in the past, entered our borders in a lawful manor. They also came in without breaking existing immigration laws passed by Congress.  While such a system has flaws, this is way our democracy should work.

    As such I will not accept the accusation of being bigot for defending American sovereignty. Being considered to be prejudiced against anyone because of their religion, race, or skin color is insulting.  Preaching such hatred is never cool.

    At this juncture it is my intent to take a leave of absence from debating political issues on Saturday morning with this group.  This is not a decision that I take lightly.  For me such a stance is a resounding defeat for all of us.  There is plenty of guilt to go around.

    It isn’t nice being called a White Supremists nor does my labeling of Progressive beliefs to be Socialistic or even Marxist seem to be palatable on several levels.  If the truth be known, I am probably no better than those who attack me.  The concept of those who live in glass houses should not be throwing rocks”, might apply to all of us involved with the polarized politics of today.

    What transpired at Curmudgeons Club is what has happened throughout our country. The left and right are so divided that they can’t even sit down to talk about protecting the border, taxes, medical coverage, defense, the national deficit, or much of anything else without name calling ensuing.  How do we find a middle ground between the likes Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Kamala Harris with the Trump Administration?

    Why can’t we go back to the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton when compromise for the common good allowed the Federal Government to operate more efficiently?

    I know reminiscing about these Pollyanna times is stupid. In the good old days we didn’t have social media, the internet, CNN, Fox News and the current Congressional leaders on both sides of the isle, to contend with.  Have we come to such a low point that Dan Rather is an upgrade to the right on what is currently found on network TV today?

    We seem to be in a political clinch that does not allow ourselves to separate ourselves from extremist elements. My current impasse with the Saturday morning confab has become for me The Breakfast Club without any resolution.

    None of this is good.  There is a literal “wall” in American politics that has nothing to do with how much is to be spent for construction projects on the border of Mexico. In order to scale this structure, we all have to cast aside our beliefs and prejudices to work out differences out.

    This includes me as well.

    Richard Eber studied journalism at the University of Oregon. He writes about politics, culture, education restaurants, and was former city and sports editor of UCSB Daily. Richard is president of Amerasa Rapid Transit, a specialized freight forwarder.

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