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An IR View: Toxic polarization is a danger to society
AN IR VIEW

An IR View: Toxic polarization is a danger to society

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Spewing hatred and vitriol has never changed anyone’s mind.

Yet in our increasingly toxic political world, more people seem to be using this strategy to get their point across.

From the halls of Congress to the expanses of Montana and even here our own community, it’s becoming far too common for people to treat those with different views as enemies to be vanquished. And we fear the way people are dehumanizing each other is leading our society down a dangerous path that could have dire consequences for everyone.

We’re not saying free expression is a bad thing. No matter how much we may disagree with what people are saying, we will always defend their right to say it.

But before you post that Tweet, hold that picket sign or send that letter to the editor, we challenge you to ask yourself a simple question: “What’s the point?”

If you’re using words like “rethuglican,” “libtard,” “snowflake” or other pejoratives reminiscent of a schoolyard bully, all you’re doing is causing more division.

Aren’t we already divided enough?

When we receive columns and letters to the editor from people belittling those they hate, sometimes all we can do is shake our head. In most cases, these types of opinions make the author look a lot worse than the person or group being demonized.

We as a society have to do better.

Instead of spreading hate, let’s spread logic.

Instead of using insults, let’s use facts.

Instead of attacking people, let’s attack problems.

The goal is not to try to make everyone happy, which is impossible and can even be counterproductive. Debate is a healthy and necessary function of our society that better helps us understand the issues and identify possible solutions.

But if we as a society fail to reject the toxic polarization sweeping our country, it will only continue to get worse.

As Albert Einstein once said, "Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent people ignore."

This is the opinion of the Independent Record editorial board. 

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