If you watch one thing this election season it should be Jon Stewart’s closing speech

While there were certainly a share of overtly politcally-minded people at the rally, I think most people Got It: It wasn’t about Left vs. Right, and it wasn’t even anti-Tea Party. It was a much-needed reminder that the supposed increasing polarization in this country doesn’t exist – it’s a fiction that has been manufactured by a ratings-hungry media and vote-hungry politicians. Quoting Jon:

If we amplify everything we hear nothing. There are terrorists and racists and Stalinist and theocrats but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe not more.

You don’t have to look any further than the Phelps (“God hates fags”) clan to see this in action. Here we have a group so fringe that despite years of media coverage they are still just a lone family trying to spread hate, with no national following to back them up. No one would even know about them except for the fact that the media follows them like eager, obedient poodles, ready to lap up manufactured controversy anywhere they can find it. And then the mass consciousnesses of Reddit and Twitter and Facebook fall in line behind the media, posting and re-posting their shock and outrage, over and over again.

Starting today I’m going to step up my vigilance about this kind of thing, and make a concerted effort NOT to fan the flames, and I challenge everyone reading this to do the same. Did someone post something on Twitter or Facebook, a bigotted-sounding sound bite from a public figure, a cell-phone video of someone being an asshole to someone else? Take the bold step of ignoring it. Or, if you’re just so riled up that you HAVE to say something, post away – but post about an unrelated incident of kindness that you witnessed instead.

To restore sanity, we must first admit that we have been part of the problem – and I am no exception. I have propagated the manufactured outrage and repeated the memes. No more. Our “fragmented” country is a fiction, a tall tale that bears no more repeating.

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