Readers write: Violence on the left and the right

An exchange with an author for the Nov. 26, 2018 weekly magazine.

Mark Makela/Reuters
Law enforcement personnel operate a bomb disposal robot outside a post office which had been evacuated in Wilmington, Del., Oct. 25, 2018.

Violence on the left and the right

In the Oct. 25 Monitor Daily story “What mail bombs say – and don’t say – about political discourse,” by Patrik Jonsson, it seems a bit puzzling for the examples to be so evenly split between the left and right when it is not that way at all. From what I have read, there are many more attacks from people supporting the right-wing politics than left-wing ones.

Dawn Hoffmann

Hagerstown, Md.

Response from Patrik Jonsson: You are right – we have to be so careful to not place some kind of moral equivalence on animal rights groups damaging property and right-wing extremists trying to murder an entire echelon of Democratic leaders. We’re in a particular moment when both sides can outright dismiss the very words used by the other side. As we are witnessing, that can have dangerous consequences. So how do you address that without completely alienating those of different political view? One is by citing facts, and after reading your letter, I realized we might have done well to try to make a similar point: that although Islamic terrorists have killed more Americans since 2001, the actual number of acts and impact have been largely from right-wing extremists, making them a similar, or even worse, threat. I’m afraid I don’t have the final answer. I will just continue to be as objective as I can be while not airbrushing reality. Your letter will help me do that. Thank you!

Response from Dawn Hoffmann: Thank you for your reply! I have really been thinking what I can do to help defuse the divisiveness that is all around us. One thing I did was start an email that goes out occasionally to a group of friends and relatives when I find things we can all do that help make our world wiser, more loving, more sane. If I could afford it, I would send the Monitor to them every day! I have appreciated all the hard work it takes to be even-keeled and try to use it as an example of how to conduct my own communication and observations. We start with the basic goodness possible in everyone. Then “otherizing” is much harder to do ... and thank goodness for that!  

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

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