Unless you’re one of those blessed souls who can tune out the contemporary world and live for higher things like the contemplation of the universe and the late quartets of Beethoven, you probably noticed that our colorful new president has taken office amid a cacophony of cheers and jeers.
It made for a lively weekend in the news, as well as Ivy Style’s comments section and Facebook group. It also got me thinking that if we thought the campaign was polarizing, we ain’t seen nothing yet. We’re 48 hours into an administration with a radically different vision from the one before it, and we are seeing the dawn of what will no doubt be ceaseless demonstrations and calls for resistance. America is said to be more split than at any time since the Civil War, and I fear that a new Civil War is beginning. The cold one that used to be called the culture wars is about to blaze into an inferno of red heat versus blue flame.
I fear that people who’ve been able to tolerate opposing views from family members, friends, and coworkers are going to start drawing lines in the sand. Tolerance will no longer be tolerated, and people will declare a state of war with everyone around them, tearing families, friendships, and business alliances apart. I also fear that when faced with someone whose position is unknown, we will demand that he reveal his true colors, red or blue, left or right, friend or foe. You’re either with me or against me, pal, there’s no middle ground.
And so I’d like to take this moment to tell you what to expect for the next four years at Ivy Style by reminding you of the past eight, as the site was founded a month before the 2008 election.
From my e-pulpit I’d like to declare Ivy Style’s independence.
As editor-in-chief, I will continue to play the role of Switzerland. Which means the site will continue to pay equal tribute to both JFK and GHWB, and our columnists and contributors will not be asked to reveal whether they’re a red tie or a blue tie when they submit a story, nor will they be required to display one next to their byline as a means of identification.
I’m repelled by the idea of being brought before a regime and forced to swear my allegiance or face a firing squad. But I’m also repulsed by the thought of having armed revolutionaries break down my door and execute me if I don’t join the resistance. Ivy Style’s neutrality and willingness to publish contributions and comments regardless of what the author believes ultimately stems from my obligation to you, the reader. There are many of you, spread across the entire spectrum, and I don’t presume to tell you what to think, nor to cater to one side at the expense of the other.
As for you, you remain free to express yourselves within a pretty darn lenient comment policy. There are currently some 25,000 comments on this website, and the number I’ve had to delete for crossing the line of decency is pretty small. As we sink deeper into this era of extreme polarization, keep on speaking your mind and taking discussion threads where you wish. But I’d ask of you a couple of things. Remember that free speech means others may tell you to shut the F up. I’d also like to encourage you to try and hold yourself to a high standard when debating, even when your blood is boiling, and tell your brethren to shut the F up in a civilized manner.
The Ivy Style club tie is finished, and it was designed to celebrate a range of stories about the history of the Ivy League Look. Without sounding treacly, I wanted the motif to be a uniter and not a divider.
Today’s heated exchanges got me thinking about a theme for our next tie, and I came up with a concept that would pay tribute to the Ivy Style comments section at this particular moment in our nation’s history. The working title is the Civilized Discourse tie. I look forward to sharing it, and to continuing to play the role of moderator of your intelligent debate. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD