The District braced itself for a collision between two extremes as the alt-right assembled in Freedom Plaza and Antifa and Black Lives Matter gathered across the street in Pershing Park. Standing in the DMZ of 14th and Pennsylvania Avenue between the alt-right and Antifa it becomes obvious that there is an undercurrent in American politics pulling more people into the undertow every day. Whether it’s the alt-right or liberal left it really doesn’t matter. The end result is all the same when people can’t talk to one another or take the time to listen.
Although there was no lack of venom between the two organizations, some people took the circuitous route between the rallies and encroached on the other’s territory. Broadcast media cited these moments as “collisions” and “confrontations” missing the bigger picture.
For the most part, as witnessed by The DC Voice, these “collisions” were no more than heated exchanges. Usually, they took place in the DMZ but occasionally in each other’s territory. The encounters were few and intense but ended mostly in a war of words, heated exchanges, and the acknowledgment that no minds were going to be changed through these encounters.
Maybe no minds were publicly changed during those exchanges. I applaud the people that took the time to cross the barriers and venture past their comfort zones. This undercurrent is more than an extension of the nation’s past. It’s a challenge to its future. Every day the current pulls humanity further away from the shore. Just like the undercurrent tends to push the swimmer further out to sea, it pushes the nation further apart. At some point, the swimmer succumbs to the sea. So, where are we?
We’re at a crossroads as a country. If we can’t talk to one another or listen to a counter argument without demonizing the speaker, then all that’s left is failure. Failure to achieve the dream of equality or justice for all. Failure to root out the sins of the nation’s birth. Failure to reach true greatness. And most importantly, failure to overcome the division that separates us. In the end….the undercurrent might just be too strong.