I’m going to aggravate some of you. Perhaps most of you. But here goes… I’ll start with this: Being a liberal does not make someone a bad person. Are there bad people on the extreme left? Yes, of course, just like there are bad people on the extreme right. Just like there are bad people who don’t give a tinker’s pittance about politics of any kind. Because no matter where you look on the political spectrum, there are good people and there are bad people in that space. There is no political ideology that has cornered the market on “good” or “bad” people. Politics is like everything else in society, it is a reflection of humanity, and consequently it reflects both our good side and our bad side across the board. To me this is stating the obvious. It is my sincere hope that it is obvious to you as well. But what I really want to focus on is how people are treated when they are perceived as a “bad” person. When we go to war, the other guy is always the “bad” guy. And Americans tend to give enemy combatants nicknames, usually with derogatory intent. In WWI we called the Germans Hun and Fritz. In WWII we used names like Kraut and Nip. In Korea we called the enemy Buckethead and Gook. In Vietnam Gook continued, and we added Dinks, Charlie, and Slopes. Iraq and Afghanistan? Haji and Muj. Soldiers assign the enemy nicknames as a mental defense mechanism. Giving them a derogatory nickname dehumanizes them. In fact, we don’t want to just dehumanize them, we want them to be subhuman. It makes it easier to kill them. Very few of us actually want to take the life of another human being, so dehumanizing the enemy, relegating them to the same status as an animal, helps to mitigate feelings of guilt we might otherwise feel for killing that other person. War is the most extreme example, but I think we are starting to see shadows of dehumanization in everyday life. When people on the left see all right-wingers as bad people, and when people on the right see all leftists as bad people, they are walking that pathway toward dehumanization of the "other." When you see online bullying, trolls, doxing, and rioting with intent to hurt others, those are all pathways to dehumanization. Psychologists have identified five phases in the dehumanization process. See if you don’t recognize all five of these phases happening in America right now: 1. Hinting at the subpar intelligence or morality of the "other" group. 2. The use of infestation analogies (i.e., “they” are a threat to “our” world). 3. Comparing "them" to animals. 4. Threats of violence (think BLM, Antifa, Neo-Nazis, etc.). 5. The removal of the other group from society (e.g., gun owners as a group). Since when in America are people “good,” “bad,” or worthy of dehumanization just because they have a political viewpoint? America was literally founded on the idea of robust political discussion, considering all points of view. Read the debates between our Founding Fathers that took place in the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia, what we now call Independence Hall. Talk about robust debates. If people back then behaved like people are acting today, there would have never been a United States of America. Along with Canada, we have learned, and we have practiced, the fine art of tolerance BETTER than any other society in history. We are not perfect, never have been and we never will be. But don't for a minute forget that, up until now, we are the best society that humanity has created, ever. This country has undergone many, many changes throughout its 200+ years of history. Despite episodes of wickedness in our background, horrible things like slavery and throwing Japanese-Americans into concentration camps, as a nation we have persevered and become better over time. Improvement has always been an American hallmark... until now. The most difficult feat in religion is forgiveness, and the most difficult feat in political discourse is listening with respect. But that's what we need to do. Model it. Show the other side how it is done. They will follow when our respectfulness becomes a mirror that reflects their poor behavior. They will learn, if we are willing to teach through example. This sure as hell is no time to flush our long, difficult pathway to tolerance down the drain. Let that journey continue.