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Shapiro: On the Super Bowl and the social fabric

On Sunday, I attended the Super Bowl, along with my father, my business partner and the president of our company. It was an amazing event. That wasn’t just because the game was terrific—although it was. It was because for all the competitive fire, for all the passion and excitement, one feeling permeated the stadium in the freezing wilds of Minnesota: love.

Yes, love.

The people in the stadium might have hated the other team, but they didn’t hate one another.

Patriots fans sat next to Eagles fans, and everybody got along; we all shouted ourselves hoarse when the NFL honored Medal of Honor winners, and we all stood for the national anthem.

After the game, when we poured out into the arctic temperatures, barely able to move because of the throng, nobody was pushing or shoving or getting violent. Instead, people joked and laughed.

After all, what was there to be truly angry about? We’d just witnessed an awesome spectacle, been party to a shared communal experience.

Eagles fans mocked Pats fans; Pats fans good-naturedly shrugged it off. It might sound like a cliche, but the Super Bowl—in the stadium, at least—was just a giant party filled with Americans who loved being in America celebrating a great American cultural celebration.

Unfortunately, such experiences are becoming rarer and rarer.

I love technology. I love choice. I cut cable years ago. Then I hooked up cable again for sports and then cut it again. My entertainment choices are personalized. So are my music choices. I can download podcasts at will. I watch movies with my wife—it takes a Big Event Movie to get me to a theater. I choose whom to follow on Facebook and Twitter.

All of that is fantastic—better stuff, faster, catered to my tastes! But there’s a drawback: We don’t have the same common cultural ground anymore as our tastes fragment and we can pursue them more individually.

My main communal connection comes through my synagogue, but church and synagogue attendance has been dropping precipitously for years.

People aren’t joining sports leagues or community organizations. We’re fragmenting on nearly every level.

There’s a problem with that: As the social fabric atomizes, we spend less time with one another. We’re less likely to see one another as friends and neighbors, and more likely to see one another as bundles of positions and views we don’t share. And that makes it particularly easy for us to dismiss one another as motivated by nefarious feelings, as opposed to merely being in disagreement.

Arthur Brooks of American Enterprise Institute is fond of citing a 1934 study about discrimination against Chinese-Americans.

The study followed a Chinese couple as they visited hotels and restaurants across the country. They were denied service a grand total of one time. Then, study author Richard LaPiere sent questionnaires to the various establishments asking whether they’d serve a Chinese couple. All but one that responded said no.

The lesson, as Brooks notes: “People are more hostile to others in the abstract than when they meet them in person.” That means we need more communal events—and that means we have to go out of our way to engage with others. We need more shared cultural experiences. That would be a good start toward rebuilding our perceptions of one another.

Ben Shapiro is host of “The Ben Shapiro Show” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire .com.


Letters
McCabe is honest candidate for governor

The term “honest” politician sounds like an oxymoron.

I believe that Mike McCabe is an honest politician. He is running for governor using only small private donations – nothing from super PACs or wealthy donors looking for favorable legislation. It should not cost over $30 million to win the governor’s race. We need someone who is passionate about Wisconsin and cares about all of our citizens. Someone who loves our beautiful state and wants it to remain a beautiful state.

Mike understands Wisconsin politics and what really needs to change. He is not driven by money, but by what is good for our citizens. He is worthy of the office of governor. Please check him out on governorbluejeans.com. Better yet, make a donation to his campaign, volunteer to help or invite him to speak at an event.

PATTI TROTTER

Janesville


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Guest views: Nehlen's bigotry not welcome in the 1st District

It’s time to take a stand against bigots who enter the public square.

Paul Nehlen, a candidate for Congress, is a bigot.

Even the notorious Breitbart website that gives a boost to other “white nationalists” no longer supports him. It was Breitbart, under Steve Bannon’s leadership, that helped make Nehlen a public figure, providing positive coverage of his 2016 bid to unseat House Speaker Paul Ryan in the 1st Congressional District’s Republican primary.

At about the same time Bannon left Breitbart to run Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, candidate Trump praised Nehlen, saying he was running “a very good campaign” against Ryan.

Most of the people of southern Wisconsin who voted in that primary knew better; Nehlen lost to Ryan by nearly 70 percentage points.

Last week, Nehlen, once again running against Ryan, published a list of his critics:

“Of those 81 people, 74 are Jews, while only 7 are non-Jews,” Nehlen wrote. He posted phone numbers, emails, Twitter handles, inviting his anti-Semite friends and backers to harass them.

Apparently, he’s found that his brand of bitterness sells. In the first three quarters of 2017, Nehlen’s campaign raised nearly $128,000, some of which went to his wife, according to a filing with the Federal Election Commission. He hawked campaign merchandise along with his repulsive web and Twitter posts.

“This is not political discourse. This is hatefulness,” said Elana Kahn, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council for the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. “What I’d like to see is the person who holds the seat he is running for speak out: Is this acceptable political discourse?”

Ryan has declined to answer.

Nehlen’s enemies list of “Jews” has deep historical resonance, given the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust in Europe before and during World War II. It’s cruel, of course, and pushes buttons for his fellow bigots—telling them it’s OK to set apart Jewish people for no other reason than that they are Jewish.

“He didn’t say who was from Wisconsin, who had a college degree, who liked to eat ice cream,” Kahn said. “That language of America First, there is language ... that was used in the run-up to the genocide of the Jews.”

Anti-Semitism, like other forms of bigotry, is rising in Wisconsin and nationwide. While the council’s annual audit of anti-Jewish incidents for 2017 won’t be completed for a week or two, Kahn said there is no doubt that the numbers rose. In 2016, she said, the number of attacks against Jewish people was three times what they had been five years ago.

The council is responding with informational outreach, especially to schoolchildren; there has been a troubling increase in reported incidents among middle schoolers, she said.

“Usually, our goal is education,” Kahn said. “We’re not interested in embarrassing, chastising or censoring anyone. It’s usually about how we can affect change. But there are exceptions. ... I think this needs to be called out. This is a time when it needs to be called out.”

Paul Nehlen has a right under the First Amendment to say nearly any hateful thought that pops into his head.

The rest of us have the right to stand up, speak out loudly against him, turn our backs in disgust at his message and show our support for our neighbors of goodwill, whatever their faith, nationality or color.

The last thing we should do is say nothing, stand for nothing, act as if this isn’t happening.

Too many people chose that route in the last century.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Letters
Tim Burns will fight for Wisconsin's middle class.

Tim Burns is running for Wisconsin Supreme Court justice. Tim understands that politics have an overwhelming influence on these contests, which once were perceived as impartial positions.

Thanks to Citizens United, most of us realize these courts have become a political tool of the very wealthiest 1 percent to purchase our politicians and supreme court justices.

Tim Burns has pledged to "prevent concentrated wealth from taking over democratic institutions" and address the enormous gap between the rich and poor in our country.

I know Tim Burns as an honest and decent man who will represent all of Wisconsin's citizens.

Please join me in voting for Tim Burns for Wisconsin Supreme Court justice on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

BRUCE PENNY

Milton


Sound_off
Sound Off for Wednesday, Feb. 7

On the State of the Union address: After watching the reaction or the nonreaction of the Democrats at the State of the Union address, it is obvious they don’t care if the economy tanks or if our roads and bridges crumble away. They only care about bashing President Trump and amnesty for illegal immigrants.

  • I would like to remind all of the letter writers and Sound Off commenters of the last three State of the Union messages. The Republicans did not applaud or stand up for all of Obama’s messages. You can’t be offended when the Democrats didn’t applaud or stand up for all of Trump’s messages. Don’t be a hypocrite.

On Pick ‘n Save building: I sadly agree that it was slightly disappointing that the Grafft family bought the Pick ‘n Save building, but in general I just wish that the city could come up with some kind of plan to prevent major, larger buildings or specific buildings in the community to not just sit and turn into rack and ruin.

  • If they can spend $3 million on the Pick ‘n Save, why can’t they fix the Monterey Hotel?
  • When I’m driving up I-90, I’m not looking to exit for a grocery store. Grocery stores need to be in neighborhoods where people live. It would be really cool if Woodman’s built another south side grocery store.
  • To the person that is upset that the Grafft family purchased that, I would imagine that if he/she is so upset they should have purchased it. The Grafft family decided they wanted to purchase it and maybe sit on it. That’s their decision. It’s their money, it’s their decision.

On Republican hypocrisy: Rich Republicans are so against the sanctuary cities, but they have no problems in hiring all the cheap labor for their businesses. They should prosecute the businessmen for doing it. Give me a break.

On Monterey Dam: Will Mr. Woodard use his expertise on the Monterey Park like he did in killing the fish at Traxler Park?

  • In response to Mr. Paul Woodard’s comments about whether Mr. Chesmore has pond-building experience: Well, how does that Traxler Park ice rink pond work for you, Mr. Woodard?

On snow emergency: What a joke that is. There’s always cars parked on the street that never get ticketed. The police will drive right by them and don’t bother writing them a ticket.

On American diversity: Paul Ryan and Donald Trump both express their love for America. Sadly what they don’t accept is America is great because of the diversity of cultures and ideas of the American people. This nation became powerful because of those who came not just from Europe but from all over the world and worked to build it.

On Nunes memo: The bottom line is they lied to a FISA court and then spied on a presidential campaign. I hope they all rot in jail, and I don’t remember them being concerned about the welfare of the country when they were leaking classified information every single day for the first six months of the Trump presidency.

  • It seems LA Times is working overtime to put the fake in the fake news. Their job is supposed to be to uncover government corruption, but instead they’re helping to try to cover it up.
  • It shows that senior officials in the FBI and the Department of Justice abused their power to try to influence the election, and it also shows that all the investigations into Russian collusion are based on a fraud.

On Foxconn jobs: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel spins this that it’s going to cost $200,000 for each job because we’re not going to make them pay taxes. Guess what, if they didn’t come here, the jobs wouldn’t be here, so we wouldn’t get the money anyway. Yes we’re giving them tax breaks to come here but in the end we’re going to clean up on it.

  • Wisconsin taxpayers are going to pay $200,000 for each Foxconn job. I think Scott Walker was conned by Foxconn.