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A note on “Both Sides”

By Daniel Ravner
 Getty / Chip Somodevilla


(this is not the regular debate article, but a message we felt we should make at this time)

President Trump denounced “both sides” in the Charlottesville clash, and in the outrage that followed, the whole notion of placing two opposing narratives on the same plane became suspect (for some, not all). It now might feel as if “both sides” is just a way to hide and dilute what should be a clear divide between right and wrong. “Both sides” can also create a false equivalence, giving the wrong people rhetoric ammunition.

The Perspective displays both sides of a debate. That’s the basic premise of our site and how we tackle our mission of opening minds. Given our premise, I thought we should take a stand and explain our approach to presenting different points of view of any issue.

Some cases are clearly right, or clearly wrong (racism is wrong). But a “both sides” rhetoric assumes there are just two sides when, in fact, most issues on which we are divided are too complex to be just one or the other (racism included).

The Perspective’s tagline says: “There are at least two sides to every story.” This means that in between the wrong and right there are many shades of grey we must consider, especially if we want to advance from the current divided state.

For example, the other side of opposing racism is not just a “racism is justified” stance.  The other side we need to consider is “what is it about racism that makes it stick throughout history?” or “why some people, who are otherwise fine family and society members, have no moral problem to hate other groups?”

You can say that racists are just horrible people. You can agree on this with your peers on your social feeds, but if that’s all you do, you’re more likely to lose a larger battle or doom yourself to repeat that exact confrontation. Setting an “Us vs. Them” world view, especially on the most infuriating of instances, makes nuances disappear and with it, a gateway to making a change.

Whether your politics are right-leaning or left-leaning, you will be remiss to be content with only feeling justified at your beliefs. Most of us, who do not see ourselves as “extremes,” have a responsibility to get out of our comfort rage, look at the other side straight in the eye, search for that place where the bleak negative takes a more complex shape, and hope to find insight that may become a start for something else.

A little bit of light can make a huge difference in the darkness. We believe that this is not just an old proverb or a lofty vision but a down and dirty practical move forward.


The Perspective team

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