The damn Russian hackers mounted cyber attacks which managed to both influence the election and deepen the divide between Americans. Those damn commie bastards.
My dad was a bricklayer. I went to work with him a couple of times when I was around 10 years old, which is how I came to find out two things about him that surprised me. Dad swore a lot at work: “Hand me the f***ing brick”. Dad really did not like commies: “those commie bastards.”
I do not remember him swearing much nor talking about communists outside of work. Sure, at home, he swore and talked about the evil commies once in a while but not much. At work, he became more passionate about both.
His work transistor radio was tuned to talk radio. Not the “WCCO good neighbor” kind of talk radio. His was “fight the Communist conspiracy against America” kind of talk radio. There were communist conspiracies everywhere and assholes in Washington, whose job was to keep us safe, were clueless.
It was the middle of the Cold War (1947 to 1991). America hated commies. We entered the Vietnam War to defeat the communists. School kids practiced what to do in the case of a nuclear attack by the communists: Sit under your desk with your hands over your head. Seriously. The Cuban missile crisis happened in this timeframe.
I was young but looking back on it now, my dad’s anti-communist views at the time, were actually fairly mainstream. Communists were a sneaky enemy who will infiltrate and disrupt our American way of life any way they could. We need to keep that from happening.
The Cold War ended in 1990 when the Soviet Union was dissolved.
Jump ahead to 2008 some 18 years after the Cold War ended. Russia launches cyber attacks on several countries around the world. By 2015, articles about Russian cyber attacks on the USA are in the mass media.
Russia’s goal? They wanted a favorable environment within which Russian interests could be moved forward with the least amount of American resistance. In particular, they wanted to deepen existing divisions among the American citizens and to widen our distrust in a democratic system of government.
By the time I was in high school dad and I never argued about the war. He knew I did not consider the communists a big enough threat to justify the horrors of the Vietnam War. I knew he felt the commie bastards were so evil it justified doing whatever it took to defeat them.
Some 50 years after I spent a couple of days at work with my dad, the communist threat became reality. The communist cyberattacks managed to influence the election and deepen the divide between Americans.
Ironically, the talk radio my dad listened to, hated the commies but now Russia relied on talk radio and cable news organizations to repeat the social media stories the hackers planted. The effect was to amplify those planted stories. Talk radio or cable news was complicit with the Russian attack on America, knowingly or not. Either way, it deepened the divide to further the Russian goals.
Unfortunately, both the liberal and conservative reaction to the cyber attack was not so much to demonize the communists. Instead, the communists got what they wanted. Both the liberals and conservatives are demonizing each other. The goal of the communists was to divide us. They succeeded.
I can hear dad quietly say, “We need to do whatever is needed to defeat the communists.” We never got angry with each other over it But I knew he was not happy at my opposition to the Vietnam war nor how liberal I was becoming in high school. I was not happy he supported the war.
Every nation in the history of nations always has tension between its citizenry. The hope is our democracy can do what it has always done. Allow people to disagree and still work together for the greater good.
The current deep divide threatening America is exactly what the communists had in mind. Democrats are demonizing Republicans and Republicans are demonizing Democrats. Putting our head in the sand and pretending we do not have to mitigate the damage done by the communist cyberattacks is not the answer.
What we need to do is take a lesson from the late great Mr. Rogers. Let us be nice and respectful to each other. Interact with each other as individuals not as demons. Just because someone voted for a bigot does not make them a bigot. Just because someone supports universal healthcare does not make them a socialist. This is a democracy. We are allowed to disagree with the positions taken by others and still work with each other for the common good.
My dad passed away in November of 1970 at the age of 52. I was an 18-year-old freshman at Mankato State College. Dad and I were never really very close but he was my father. I miss him. If he were alive to see the communists had succeeded, My guess is his thoughts would be something like, We let down our guard and let the communists bastards undermine our democracy, get to work and clean up the f***ing mess.
What we perceive often depends on how close we look.