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Inflammatory rhetoric versus reason 

Once in awhile I have to check the local water supply to ensure that something unpleasant hasn’t taken up residence. A good warning sign that something isn’t right is when Professor Latner and I are in agreement, a sure sign of a mind-altering substance being present.

As a dedicated conservative—socially, economically, and on national security issues—I am politically the polar opposite of the good professor on almost everything.

The political well of present-day American politics has been poisoned by inflammatory rhetoric to a degree not experienced since the 1850s pre-Civil War debate over the issue of slavery and the role of the federal government. That dispute fractured America for 120 years and left more than 600,000 Americans dead. The Civil War officially lasted but four years; in reality it began decades prior to the official outbreak in 1861 and lasted for another half-century before national reconciliation began. Shamefully, former slaves were re-enslaved via “Jim Crow laws” until re-liberated by the Civil Rights movement and Acts of the 1960s. The scars remain with us, all too frequently ripped open by professional race-baiters and die-hard bigots.

The current rhetoric surrounding the Trump presidency is systematically ripping apart the social fabric of the nation. I fault President Trump to some extent; his scorched-earth election campaign left little goodwill among his opponents on either side of the political aisle. His coarse language and off-the-cuff remarks, usually socially insensitive and politically unhelpful—a quality more suited to a construction site than a national political stage—have damaged his message, which is often lost in the uproar created by his undisciplined public persona. Nevertheless, President Trump is being unfairly treated by the national media, which is aided by an unelected, seditious federal bureaucracy determined to retain power over Americans at any cost to the republic.

I cite one example, the unlawful release of signal intelligence information to the media revealing a conversation between the Russian ambassador and Trump’s designated national security advisor. This act compromised the most critical intelligence sources and methods we use and alerted the Russians that America had successfully breeched communications security in place to protect the Russian ambassador’s private communications. That revelation cost us dearly by compromising and shutting down a vital channel of intelligence collection that revealed the inner-workings of the Kremlin. That’s a very big deal, yet it’s glossed over by media more anxious to reveal salacious information impugning Trump’s national security advisor than protecting a vital source of diplomatic intelligence. Such an unauthorized release is a felony under the Espionage Acts with heavy prison sentences involved if the culprits are apprehended. It forced the resignation of Lt. Gen. Flynn, not for the conversation he had, which was perfectly legitimate, but for his own personal lapse in integrity in failing to fully brief the vice president. There has been a plethora of such leaks, all designed to compromise the Trump administration’s ability to govern, regardless of the cost to America.

Professor Latner detailed some of the more outrageous rhetoric of the extreme left, such as calling for impeachment of Trump, use of the 25th Amendment to disqualify him from office, even calling for a military coup or assassination. The language used to disparage Trump, his family, and supporters is reprehensible and dangerous to the republic. When terms like “Nazi,” “gangster,” or, “racist” are the norm, there’s not much left to discuss.

All of these terms are inappropriate and designed to shut down discussion at any level. All of this is compounded by a Democratic Party determined to destroy the Trump presidency at its birth, thereby nullifying an election result they refuse to accept. Do not believe for a moment that denying the fruits of electoral victory will result in a return to power; if anything, it will make Trump supporters even more visceral in their opposition. There is a point when violence is met with violence, and the “alt-left” has been quite willing to use any means necessary to attack their opponents. When ordinary people believe they no longer have a voice, shut down by a heavily biased media and all the other institutions of democracy, political discourse will cease and debate turns into destruction.

History is replete with examples of democracies devolving into tyranny, preceded by bloody civil wars. When I hear of young people calling for “revolution” I cannot help but think they’re asking for something they’ll regret. The American Revolution was an anomaly as revolutions go; it didn’t result in tyranny, nor did its heroes descend into a bloody contest for power. They gave up their swords and gave us a republic and a Constitution that enshrined civil liberties as an absolute right, given by God, not men, so as to not permit government to subordinate them. It also provided a mechanism to expand those rights to all as society recognized that for civil liberties to exist for some, reason dictates they must exist for all. For our republic to continue to exist, all must recognize the fundamental right of everyone to freely express opinions without fear of violence or censorship, regardless of fervent disagreement.

Al Fonzi is an Army lieutenant colonel of military intelligence who had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Send comments through the editor at

-- Al Fonzi - Atascadero

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