The Uncivil War

Dear Editor:

For 20 years, I have listened to conservative talk radio. My liberal friends say they sometimes try but can’t tolerate it long. Ever since William F. Buckley (who was at least erudite), I’ve considered it a citizen’s obligation to tune in. Partly that’s because I’m a veteran, and like many veterans I take it as an ongoing obligation to “support and defend” this country and everything it claims to stand for.

Buckley promoted traditional right-leaning ideology, a small portion of which I agreed with. The Fox-backed Voice of Maine channel now airs Glenn Beck in the morning and Rush Limbaugh after noon. If you want to know the wellspring for most of the ideas that are threatening to divide and destroy this country, and making you anxious and depressed, ideas that unquestionably influence the tweets and chaotic outbursts of our President, then listen for yourself! Expect to be shocked.

During the past two years, the rhetoric from these two has grown increasingly spiteful, divisive — and untrue. A major portion of the thousands of lies now attributed to Trump originated here. Every day raises the bar on dangerous, probably illegal speech (in terms of inciting violence and riot). As a former serviceman, I realize that rhetoric like theirs would never be tolerated out in the open, in the military. I don’t know law, but I surmise that much of it borders upon treason.

Here is an up-to-date synopsis: Democrats, liberals and inclusive, open-minded folk are lumped together in two words “The Left.” There are daily warnings that the entire educational system from grade school through college has been co-opted by a “radical leftist agenda.” As to the recent unrest arising out of the latest spate of police killings of black men, the resultant Black Lives Matter movement and the standoffs against a “militia of patriots” in pickup trucks bearing AK-47s beneath Trump/Pence banners, Rush and Beck define this as a biblical battle as clear as white and black or good versus evil.

It’s within this concept that they’ve lately introduced the claim that protests in “Democrat-run” cities against police brutality, racial bias and gun violence are the opening skirmishes in a “new Civil War.”

I fear that Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are playing into the hands of this country’s enemies who are tickled pink about the rise of chaotic division and an apocalyptic drift toward armed violence.

Our differences are nowhere near the level these powerful voices are spewing vitriol about. Advancing the idea of civil unrest, or even war, is beyond dangerous. It is the epitome of being “un-American.”

Art Paine


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