Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned
--The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats
He [Okonkwo] had a slight stammer
and whenever he was angry
and could not get his words out quickly enough,
he would use his fists
--Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
The center is not holding in America, and this bodes ill for a liberal democratic society.
Democracy prospers with a robust center. That median is the strength of any healthy social philosophy. The U.S. has lost it's play of liberal versus conservative views. In the bargain, we have become a reactionary society ruled by sound bytes which stamp out rational thought.
Looking at the center in a military manner, the center in both offense and defense is usually the center of axis, and is weighted for success. In today's political arena, this center strong concept has been dismantled.
The recent tempest over the proposed Koran burning at a small Central Florida church is instructive. That it became an issue at all could be blamed on the Dog days of Summer, but there is something more. The real issue here is not Freedom of Speech but that the fringes are controlling the center.
People like Reverend Wright, Glenn Beck, and Pastor Terry Jones have shifted the battlefield away from any logical array of forces or ideology. Of course, we have the constitutional right to burn a Koran - this right exists beyond the bounds of a Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) and does not hinge upon the disapproval of any men, whether named Obama or Osama bin Laden.
The point is that burning a Koran should be a lunatic fringe activity, but at some level Ranger intuits that this is not a fringe act but rather an expression of frustration and helplessness which ha shifted our outlook and turned the former spectrum of thought into a fringe. What is something like a Tea Party if not a bacchanalia of discontent?
The religious Right has moved from fringe to mainstream in just one election and the Tea Party and Palin & Co. are the institutionalization of this fringe. It is possible to view the Obama presidency and its leadership as another fringe phenomenon, which in turn vitalizes its opposite. It seems everyday centrist citizens are marginalized and manipulated by these radicalized oppositions.
Minus a strong centrist position, the bonds of the U.S. will not hold.