Russ Kent: America is losing its middle

Our nation has lost its middle.

Everything, or everyone, is either right or wrong.

No longer is is there a middle ground where the majority of Americans can stand and link arms.

You’re on my side, or you’re the enemy.

There is only one segment of America in which the middle is actually growing.

And that’s our waistlines. But that’s another story.

Back in the day — in the previous century, say, 1980 or thereabouts — being in the middle was a good thing.

Compromise wasn’t a bad word. Understanding wasn’t a bad thing to be.

There remain some pretty good examples of middle today.

I’m a middle child, and if I say so myself, I’m the best of the five Kent kids raised by Dick and Nancy.

The middle of an Oreo cookie, especially the golden, double-stuffed kind, are still the best part of any cookie invented.

Middlesex, England, I hear, is one of the nicest places in Great Britain, although I’m curious how it got its name.

Middle-age isn’t a bad thing. And someday I’ll get there.

The Middle Ages? Castles, knights, beautiful damsels in distress with long blonde hair and great teeth … what’s not to like.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one of Shakespeare’s best.

And Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington is one of the great racing locales in the world.

So how did the notion of compromise become so evil?

What happened to being able to see both sides of an argument?

Colin Kaepernick is just one recent example of this nation’s inability to see both sides of anything.

You are either in 100 percent agreement with the San Francisco quarterback’s decision to protest racial inequality by not standing during the National Anthem of NFL games.

Or Kaepernick is this nation’s greatest villain since Adolf Hitler.

Social media propagates this trend toward shortsightedness.

So does the national media.

You’re either a white bigot who has never had a pleasant experience with men or women of color and is just one invitation away from happily joining a lynch mob.


You’re a racist, white-hating bigot who has spent his or her entire life running from trigger-happy white cops and being oppressed by the man.

I have a hard time believing there is not a middle ground.

The Kaepernick protest started a month ago. And as we move further away from it, we are actually having some helpful dialogue about the issue Kaepernick shined a national spotlight on.

But it took far too long to get to a logical, thoughtful, polite conversation.

Which is OK.

The controversy generated webhits for the major news network, talk radio and ESPN and others.

And controversy and hatred generate profits for media companies.

And social media, which actually thrives on hatred and is greedily mining this goldmine of hate for website hits.

Especially Twitter and Facebook, the top dogs in the social media hierarchy.

Social media is occupied by some of the most vial people alive, and Twitter and Facebook give them a great platform.

The most vocal, insuffering, racist, quick-to-judge, bigoted, uneducated dipwads this world has ever seem are on Twitter and trigger quick to spread that bigotry and hate.

Facebook used to be a little better. But those days are long gone.

I joined Facebook to meet people and to renew acquaintances with far-away friends.

But the nutjobs and haters have taken control of and are running the social media asylum.

Facebook is filled with almost as much hate and idiocy as Twitter.

You don’t even have to think or be creative in order to say or post something offensive in the world of social media.

Allow another racist, uneducated, unthinking bigot to do the thinking for you. And then you can share, or cut and paste or retweet the offensiveness.

Which guarantees every unthinking racist, homophobe out there has plenty of readily-available ammunition and gasoline to throw on an already out-of-control fire.

Colin Kaepernich has every right to protest what he believes is an on-going inequity in the way white people are treated vs. the way men or women of color are treated.

But racial attacks and shootings and hate speech are not only propagated by white people.

There are dirtbags all around.

There are good white people, and vile white people.

There also are good black people, and vile black people.

So why do the vile people get all the publicity?

It’s simple. Boring and harmony and civility and politeness and thoughtfulness don’t generate ratings, webhits and advertising revenue.

Russ Kent

Inquirer Editor


Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. Email with comments or story ideas.