Yes World, It’s That Bad Here in America—and Worse

THOR, Son of ODIN(2)

by John Pavlovitz, a writer, pastor, and activist from Wake Forest, North Carolina. johnpavlovitz.com


A reader from Australia texted me last night. He’d been watching the news and said he wanted to check on me.


We’re heartbroken to hear what’s going on there. he wrote. Is it really as bad as it looks?


Another sweet friend from England messaged me this morning, with similar concern for me and for our nation, based on what she’s been reading and seeing in the media.


Over the past few weeks I’ve had many kind-hearted people from all over the world make similar inquiries about America, asking if it is as dire and alarming up close as it appears from a distance.


Yes, it is.


In fact, it’s far worse here on the ground, because all the ugliness you can see from thousands of miles away (outside of a few politician’s faces) is probably still rather abstract—a largely undefinable, faceless wave of malice and bigotry, something to be analyzed and studied later.


But here on the ground this malignant sickness has a face, one that is far too familiar:


It’s the face of family members whose newly revealed racism is regularly leveling us around the dinner table.


It’s the face of former church friends, who have completely abandoned the Jesus they claim faith in and chosen the vilest of idols.


It’s the face of once pleasant neighbors who casually regurgitate extremist propaganda in sidewalk conversations.


It’s the face of childhood friends spewing anti-immigrant filth on their social media profiles.


It’s the face of storeowners and hair stylists and restaurant workers, the interactions with whom, have become walks through minefields.


So yes, it’s the staggering cruelty of those holding the power here—but just as much it’s the people we know and live alongside who are so gladly empowering them.


Yes, it’s the complete b@stardization of the rule of law and the systems of protections our forebears put in place to avoid putting our nation in such peril—but it’s our coworkers and uncles and classmates who don’t seem to give d@mn about that.


Yes, it’s our President’s absolute sociopathic lack of empathy and his unrepentant viciousness—but it’s the people we’ve shared Thanksgiving dinner with and served on mission trips alongside, who share his venom and boost his signal.


Yes, it’s our Government’s incessant attacks on LGBTQ people and immigrants and Muslims and the sick and the vulnerable—but it’s the once kind-hearted people we love, who have been so poisoned by partisan talking points and perverted Christian theology that they celebrate all of it.


That’s why this is all so bad.


We’re certainly losing the big things here: the integrity of our elections, the stability of our Republic, the faith in our systems, the illusion that our Republican leaders will put anything over power and party.


But we’re losing much more than that.


We’re losing the soft places we called home: our families and our churches and our circle of friends.


We are swiftly and almost hourly seeing the relational fractures that may have always been there beneath the surface, but are now visible and cavernous.


We’re trying to decide whether to fight for relationships we’ve spent our lives nurturing, or whether we need to severe those connections in the name of self-preservation.


These things will never make the news or make a global impact—but they are rocking our personal worlds to the bedrock.


So we’re marching and protesting and working and resisting in the face of this monumental and historically malevolent national political cancer—and while we’re doing that, we’re also trying to preserve our families and our friendships and our workplaces, which are also hanging by a thread.


This is a Constitutional crisis and it’s a family emergency.


We’re wondering what happened to our nation—and what the h*ll happened to our grandparents, siblings, and best friends.


Yes, our Democracy is in peril, but our most treasured relationships with people are in tatters too.


We are trying to salvage both and it’s g%%&&n exhausting.


So yes, friends around the world, thank you for caring about us in America.


It is as bad as it looks from where you’re standing.


But it’s far worse, too.

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Comments (59)
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tony jelly

I agree, all the items John Pavlovitz, lists are anti-America, we deserve better.

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margievank

America will never be better to the America haters until it no longer is America. Just one big third world country.

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cattyles

Thanks for posting, THOR. Pavlovitz is right.

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THOR, Son of ODIN(2)

As evidenced every day on HT :-/

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rhoder551 zone 9b-10

Yes, just the maga hat mentions alone....

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THOR, Son of ODIN(2)

Proud of their hate...
" the face of family members whose newly revealed racism is regularly leveling us around the dinner table."

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mrskjun(9)

America is the greatest country in the world. Do you see people trekking thousands of miles to illegally enter China? Russia? Venezuela? Cuba?

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THOR, Son of ODIN(2)

More than 45,000 people have made the perilous journey across the
Mediterranean in the first six months of 2018 to seek refuge in Europe, according to the United Nations.

Countries That Accept the Most Migrants

France.
Germany.
Canada.
The UK.
Sweden.
Norway.
The Netherlands.
Italy.
Spain.
Australia.
USA.



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THOR, Son of ODIN(2)

But that is Deflection #1.

****************

DEFLECTION LIST

#1: You are all just haters

#2: There have been no specific convictions for collusion

#3: But Obamaaa!!! / But Hilarrry !!!

#4: The REAL victims are white male Christians

#5: Just post something misleading

#6: A librul did something bad


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margievank

catticus- It is an open public forum. When I first came to Hot Topics I took many comments too personal and was made fun of for doing that. I see many comments I do not like and find them disgusting, but that is the way of an open public forum.



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ubro(2a)

I so agree with the OP it struck a chord with me. Deciding whether to keep personal relationships with people who before I thought were kind and now spew racists and homophobic ideals is hard.

The hate is not on the side of those with acceptance of all people. Implying that it is hatred of others when speaking out against public comments supporting these vial ideals is twisted logic.


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Ziemia(6a)

Worth repeating:

"Implying that it is hatred of others when speaking out against public comments supporting these vial ideals is twisted logic."

Kudos to ubro.

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Chi

I honestly believe we are witnessing the beginning of the downfall of the US. Each great civilization falls eventually, and the US is no longer the greatest country in the world. Maybe in military strength but that's it.

We've let our politics evolve to not just different ideologies but actual hatred on both sides. It's to the point where many people don't vote for people they like, but rather vote against the enemy.

Corporations are valued more than people, and our elected leaders take "donations" from them in exchange for favorable policy.

Our taxes pay for a massive military, huge corporate tax cuts, but providing health care to the people is just too expensive. Our priorities are completely messed up when we care about military might and the welfare of corporations over people.

Half the country is dismissive of higher education, saying it breeds liberal socialists. Meanwhile, our education rankings in the world are plummeting. Politicians are taking advantage of the uneducated.

Each generation that ages into adulthood here faces increased challenges. Tuition has increased hundreds of percents the last few decades. Cost of living outpaces salary growth. The American dream of owning a house and car and starting a family with a normal job is no longer possible in much of the country. And what someone was able to do 20 or 30 years ago themselves is no longer relevant.

The US used to be a great country, but not anymore. It's broken, especially when half the country thinks the other is morally depraved, and vice versa.

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margievank

Chicago anyone- Home of Obama- LOL- you wanna talk crime.

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Ziemia(6a)

Chi, the next election results will address your fears. I am much relieved by those of 2018.

And 2018 put some fear into the GOP. The word out to the many GOP Senators running in 2020 is to stay independent of Trump.

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blfenton

...and boost his signal. - OP

This is seen all the time, here and from those of the republican party.

We’re trying to decide whether to fight for relationships we’ve spent our lives nurturing, or whether we need to severe those connections in the name of self-preservation. - from OP

John Pavlovitz is obviously not a trump supporter and is really concerned about what he sees going on around him in his daily life from those people he has know for a long time. It's apparent that he is trying to hold onto past relationships both familial and friend despite the differences, I wonder, are the trump supporters trying to do the same thing? Are they trying to maintain relationships with those who are anti-trump, or who are liberal or progressive?

I also find it unfortunate that there are those who believe that just because one is anti-trump that automatically makes you anti-American. I am able to separate the two so why can't they? I am not anti-American and object to being called such. And if I were American I would object even more strenuously.

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tony jelly

Hatred is a powerful word, yet it is used on HT with gay abandon.

Another thing that I only see happening here is regarding 'Trumpets,' say as a monolith, which is odd in a country proud of its individualism. What this means is that when I start a conversation, there is an immediate opposition from those who see me as 'The Competition,' and the replies are about besting me and not forming an argument. This has even happened on a thread about music!

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josephene_gw

Say again rwingers are destroying the

nation their forefathers fought and

died for.

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don_socal

In school in the '50s and '60s There was band, choir, drill team, swimming, sports of many kinds that did not make money and have been eliminated because they were a "burden", art, home economics, Shop classes such as wood shop, machine shop, metal shop, welding, and auto shop. The general curriculum included a school paper, clubs for chess, literature, art appreciation and many more that have been lost to the children we have been raising.

More was invested in the growing population to replace the ones that were retiring and many of the retirees were the teachers of those classes. Today money is invested in corporations through the taxes we pay and little is returned in the investments to the young. This is a big contribution to the dumbing down of the population. To get an equivalent education now the young ones have to pay for it to again, big corporations that offer the classes through "colleges" that try to replace the knowledge and do a poor job of it. There is no such thing any more as a well rounded education.

Then we get an administration that is trying to make America go back to the 1930's when people were lining the street in bread lines. They are doing this by destroying all of the infrastructure of education and protections to jobs, health and the environment in every way possible. The restrictions that protected the things that support life have been rolled back at every opportunity to again support big corporations that deal with nothing more than the bottom line.

It is a sad outlook compared to the reality of what America really was like even with all the negatives that were present then. We used those negatives to understand and employ the required parameters to have a good safe life for all and be productive without destroying the world we live in.

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

This situation we are in is not particularly unique to our country. We see the rise of populism everywhere. Institutions are no longer trusted. And the blame game turns racist and nativist. The United Kingdom has gone from being one of the leaders of the large economies, to a basket case- all thanks to how easy it was to exploit the folks who did not fare well under globalization. Every Saturday the Yellow Vests are out in force in France, the Italians have elected an oxymoronic coalition to lead them, Eastern Europeans are increasingly authoritarian, and on and on. We've got issues and we seem incapable of dealing with them in any reasonable way. We only deal in emotion laden, simplistic proxies.

I don't know where this ends for us. It is clear we are weakening the 20thC. institutions we built up after two world wars to keep us safe from our baser instincts.

Add to this our demographic problems in the West, too many old people, not enough young ones, and you wonder how this will work itself out. How are the pensions going to be paid? Who is going to care for the old? If we don't accept immigrants, how do we manage this population imbalance. (The UK is short of doctors and nurses thanks to its recent xenophobia, for example.)

None of what is confronting us comes as a surprise to anyone. My step father tells me Americans were up in arms about the dumbing down of education in the 50s. Anyone ever see what a McGuffey Reader was like? It bore no resemblance to See Spot Run, for sure. My 7th grade social studies teacher (1980) showed us that it took three workers to support one retiree on social security. She then explained the demographics of the suture, where we would have one worker for three retirees. While Mrs. Hoffmann was a great teacher, I am very sure she was not providing our class with classified information. Even Archie Bunker knew in 1970 that without a college education, Mike Stivic would not be able to be productive- and yet- educational attainment is not truly increasing when you consider how poorly our curriculum holds up (the College Board folks in Princeton have said reading and writing skills of current grads is dismal.)

Sorry for rambling. Short story, there are real problems out there and we are choosing to allow ourselves to be manipulated into chaotic factions for the benefits of other countries and corporate interests.

We all want the same things. The hate is surely not natural.

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sjerin

Don, I'm glad you brought up the fact that education has suffered terribly; it is my belief that a certain section of those in power have planned for decades to dumb down the populace to keep them in line. Not so far-fetched when you think about it, as when you talk to many who didn't have much of an education, they are unable to back their opinions with pertinent facts--they only repeat words and phrases that have been fed to them.

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

Remember the 1983 Nation at Risk report of education in America:

"If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war."[3]


The irony here is so bitter ...

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margaux

An uneducated population gives the U.S. a guaranteed military because poor high school graduates have few other options than to join the military. Many enlistees come from the South where the GOP controls educational funds, with minorities getting the short end of the stick. Checking the stats, you find that 43% of men and 56% of women recruits are Hispanic or a racial minority.

I wonder if the lack of an investment in education is a careful plan on the part of those lawmakers as it channels fresh recruits to the military. Their kids will be going to private schools and universities and onto high-paying jobs while a military of mostly poor minorities risks their lives in foreign battle fields. I don't think the mission of today's military is to fight for freedom for you and me. They fight to protect the wealthy and the politically powerful. The GOP funds defense far out of proportion to domestic policies to ensure that their interests are protected.

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chase_gw

Amen Margaux

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

BTW The US Is one of the only (maybe only) countries to allow military recruiters into public schools.

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HU9999

Everyone knows...

When a thought begins with those words, you can bet that the rest is at best not the truth, and more likely 100% projection.

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HU9999

BTW The US Is one of the only (maybe only) countries to allow military recruiters into public schools.

Thankfully, where I live you have to give them permission to speak to your child. A simple NO #### WAY on a permission form is all it takes for them to not be allowed to speak to your child.

I never thought about it. Is it not like that other places?

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Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real

I have no idea what it's like in my school district- my children go to private school- and frankly my district is something like 95 percent four year college bound, so not the target audience for sure.

When our children were super young we took them to a low key air show every summer. Then 9/11 happened and the air show turned into an extended advertisement for the military- that was the end of that for us. No way did I want my young boys exposed to that kind of pre-recruitment propaganda.

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lily12

Thor...thanks for posting this. Everything on that list struck a nerve. But you did forget Benghazi. tRump has brought hatred to this country the likes we've never seen before. My kids travel to Europe all the time and all the conversations they've had with locals have had one thing in common. They hate tRump and wonder how dumb IS our country. Pretty dumb, I'd say. There are a lot of uneducated people in tRump country. You'd have to be to excuse even one of his faults. He has no redeeming value as a human being let alone president.

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Rina

I'd like to revert to John Pavlovitz in the OP. That is one of the most profound, beautiful, and sincere pieces of writing I have encountered on this subject that is so confounding the thinking world right now. It brings it home and brings it to the heart. I know what he means: my entire immediate family were to some degree or other right-wingers, in the complex context of the times in my own country. And yet still, I love them and I send my love after them to wherever they are now. But the pain of it never goes away.

That is, by the way, one of the most pro-American statements I've read in a long time. Pavlovitz clearly knows that America is capable of being so much better than it currently is. It's that goal that is his beloved America, I think.

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Joaniepoanie

Sooooo NOT an anti-America piece.

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adoptedbyhounds

The writer has a very long list of people he judges defective, from family to former church friends to his neighbors and shop owners, restaurant workers, even hairdressers.

He sounds very sad, and I am sorry he's so miserable. At the same time, I am glad that so many people he feels qualified to judge have expressed their own opinions without regard for whether or not he likes them.

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Rina

I don't think it's about whether he likes them. In many cases, I suspect he loves them.

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woodnymph2_gw

The John Pavlovitz writing really hit home with me. I agreed with his every point. Clearly he is writing from a patriotic point of view, out of sadness. I have been saying for decades that we have been witnessing the dumbing down of America. My European friends constantly question me about what is going on with our government. I am hard put to give rational explanations to them. Sadly, I agree with the poster here who wrote we are witnessing the unraveling of our democracy. Apart from our military might, we are no longer respected as a world power. America now looks to have been a 300 + year experiment that has failed.

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batyabeth

excellent article and right on point.

"third world country, with a corrupt, self-serving ruling class,
plundering what they can from the land and its people, unfettered by the
strictures of law, and a vast under class that exists only to work for,
enrich and adulate the "beloved" leaders."

this is also right on point., and donsocal's point about education is hits the nail on the head. (Sorry I can only paste right now I"m jet lagged to within an inch of my life.)

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Louise McCarthy

Thank you for posting this. It really touched a nerve for me. I moved to Charleston in October 2016, literally just before the election. By myself, no kids, no SO, no relatives or friends. I do have Leo (my pup). Over the past two+ years I have not made any friends. I haven't really tried to be honest. I walked away from a very good hairstylist because she is a Trump supporter and I don't want any of my (very small) income being shared with someone who supports the WH idiot. Currently I am doing AirBnB and thankfully my politics haven't been an issue for any of my guests. What makes me incredibly sad is that all of this racism/bigotry/anti-immigration was always there but much more hidden. Now these horrible traits are not only out there, loud and proud, they are also feeding even more people to be racist/bigoted/anti whatever the loud and proud idiots believe.


I try to remain hopeful. I raised seven fabulous children who are kind, compassionate and work in areas where they have great influence on young people. Success for each of them is not about money, it is being of service. They are very successful in being of service.

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SeaHorse

Great article! thank you!!

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Tilly Teabag

“Love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus.

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terrene(5b MA)

I wonder if what Mr. Pavloviz is describing is worse in the parts of the country where these conservative social currents run deeper. Some of this exists here is Massachusetts, but we live with a backdrop of a long history of progressive thought and action, high standards for education, well-developed government services for the poor/disabled residents, etc.

Nevertheless I wholeheartedly agree with him that we are being governed on the federal level by "a corrupt, self-serving ruling class, plundering what they can from the land and its people," and that many of the people have been very skillfully brainwashed not to recognize this.

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adoptedbyhounds

"I don't think it's about whether he likes them. In many cases, I suspect he loves them."

He loves their opinions?

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Rina

No, I didn't say that. Love is a slightly larger thing than that.

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Annie Deighnaugh

I find it so ironic that both sides are accusing the other of being the party of hate, while both sides are spewing venom at each other.

If both sides detest hatred, then why not drop it? It's a war that everybody loses.

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Annie Deighnaugh

I read the op and don't find "hate" for America in there anywhere, and I think the difference is the view of what constitutes 'hate'.

I think people of a more authoritarian, rw bent, view criticism of the country as "hateful" and anti-patriotic, because if you love it, you won't attack it. Taking a knee is hateful during the anthem, for example. Criticizing the president = hatred for the president.

Rather people on the left view criticism as a way of loving the nation as it is the method by which improvements come about...recognizing that there's a lot that makes America wonderful but seeing her flaws and focusing on improving them is a way to make it even better. You can't fix what's broken if you won't even acknowledge anything's broken. So taking a knee is a message that not everyone enjoys the liberties to which the founding principles of the nation aspire. Criticizing the president is hopeful of changing the narrative and policy direction to one that is more in line with their values.

The difference may be too in the things we hold of value that make the country what it is for us, but I don't think so much as in other discussions, I find often the values are the same...it's the expression, and means of attaining and preserving them that are different.

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THOR, Son of ODIN(2)

Without hate there is no GOP.

"They hate black people. They hate Muslims, and have no problem if the Proud Boys go hunting around Manhattan for women to assault. They hate Native Americans. They’re getting their sea legs back when it comes to hating Jews.

"They hate hate hate Mexican and Central American and Puerto Rican
people, to the point where they’re playing a demented game of Oregon Trail with a group of desperate Central Americans currently situated a literal thousand ###### miles from the border, waiting for them to arrive at our doorstep just so they can persecute them.

"You’re a billion times more likely to die from tripping over the
sidewalk than some from supposed caravan gang member. No matter.
Republican hatred of immigrants is the priority. They rip immigrant
children away from their parents and stick them in concentration camps
and bend over backwards to make sure those families can never be put
back together, all in the name of hatred.

"They hate gays, too. They hate bisexuals. They hate trans people, to the point where they would rather that such people don’t even legally exist.
They really hate women. If you’re a woman who’s brave enough to step
forward and publicly recount a deep-seated pain you’ve been harboring
for years and years, Republicans are ready to laugh right in your face.

"They hate the poor. They hate victims. They hate the elderly and infirm.
They REALLY hate sick people. Can you believe all these gross sick
people, lying around and wasting productivity? Let’s saddle those people
up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital bills so that they
can die penniless and afraid. Unions? Republicans hate those. People
asking for a raise in the minimum wage? Yeah no, sorry. You’re on the
hate wagon, too."

https://www.gq.com/story/republicans-hate-you

**************

"Another Anti- America thread."


This is a classic fallacious argument known as a False Dichotomy.
Either you love America and support even a lying criminal president, or you hate everything about America.

This results from binary thinking where everything is either black or white, there is no gray area.

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Carro

Is it really as bad as it looks? omg, yes...for lunatics with TDS.


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Carro

Are Australians really that isolated and gulllable? Do they never leave their continent? Is there internet that controlled by the government?

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Carro

To our readers in England and Australia- yes, it's bad. Trump hate has consumed many people and please, if you come to America, do NOT wear any Trump gear. No Trump. No MAGA.

You WILL be putting your life in danger.

The good news is our economy is doing great! Unemployment is at record lows! Our nation has been safe in the hands of Trump. Our President is working hard every day to protect our borders and our sovereignty, just like your countries are protected from unknown invaders.

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tony jelly

Unknown invaders ?

"You have nothing to fear except fear itself."

Oh, and unknown invaders.

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margievank


Annie Deighnaugh

I find it so ironic that both sides are accusing the other of being the party of hate, while both sides are spewing venom at each other.

If both sides detest hatred, then why not drop it? It's a war that everybody loses.

THOR, Son of ODIN(2)

Without hate there is no GOP.

"They hate black people. They hate Muslims, and have no problem if the Proud Boys go hunting around Manhattan for women to assault. They hate Native Americans. They’re getting their sea legs back when it comes to hating Jews.

**********************************************

Thor- how could you *like* Annies post and then turn around and spew the hate?

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Carro

margie, it's not hate when the Left criticizes. But oh my, when people call out their Ilhan Omar for reducing the murder of 3000 people on 9/11 to "some people did something", they yowl and call us haters.

Don't expect parity from the Left. That would require intellectual honesty and critical thinking...

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margievank

Just makes me laugh to witness the blindness to thine self.

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batyabeth

Annie, you got it right.

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Annie Deighnaugh

What I also find interesting is that when it comes to child rearing...at least stereotypically...it's the staunch rw conservatives who are 'spare the rod, spoil the child' types, big on being strict, teaching personal responsibility, moral vs immoral behavior, etc. vs. the lefties who are viewed as the softies, defending and forgiving little johnny all the bad things he's done, making excuses, etc.

But when it comes to the nation, it would seem to be the opposite. trumplicans forgive trump *anything* while the dems are doing all they can to hold him to account.

Curious, no?

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Ziemia(6a)

Oh, right - happy first day of the work week, everyone.

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cait1

He doesn't even know America is a Republic. Why would he be correct about anything else?

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don_socal

You do mean the one in the white house, YES?

In my best Londo Mollari voice, centauri ambassador to Babylon 5
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Londo_Mollari

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Tilly Teabag

{{hzmention:webuser_799710926}}

carro

“Are Australians really that isolated and gulllable? Do they never leave their continent? Is there internet that controlled by the government?”

yes, that’s it. Spank them all, I say.

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dockside_gw

TR - Easy to answer your "compared to what?" questions - all of them. Just three words: white Christian males" That's what.

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