This is why we can’t have nice things.

This is why we can’t have nice things.


As President Barack Obama made his way to speaking engagements in Oklahoma, groups of people in Durant and Oklahoma City staged rallies or protests — or whatever you call people in the back of pickup trucks waving Confederate flags — to greet him.


These people say the Confederate flag is about heritage, not hate. They even took advantage of a man calling himself "the black rebel" who helped organize the rally to prove they aren’t racists. They have that one black friend, right?


The political environment on my social media feeds was so bad that it made the Plexxus, Advocare and Crossfit updates pleasant by comparison.


I saw so much of that nonsense that I thought about deleting my Facebook account, but then I remembered it wasn’t Mark Zuckerberg’s fault that I have friends who aren’t so bright and are fine with racist undertones. Then I turned to my Twitter page and it made me long for those Facebook posts that were tame by comparison.


I even had one friend who tried to encourage the ignorant people who think Obama is trying to expand high-speed Internet access so the government can spy on them.


"We are better than this," he said.


I couldn’t disagree more. We aren’t better than this.


Many are unbelievably capable of defending child molesters if they are on the right television shows and hate mongers as long as they hate the same things they do.


Look, this is nothing but a perfect illustration of the symbolic culture that we have become.


Most of life today is about what offends someone. Republicans are offended by Obama and his refusal to stop being president. If Obama offered free ice cream, Fox News would spend an entire evening blaming him for making Americans obese. If he says ice cream is a bad idea, he is criticized for contributing to the nanny state. If he doesn’t mention ice cream, he is slammed for ignoring America’s ice cream industry.


This isn’t a one-way street.


Democrats are offended by every Fox News criticism of Obama. Believe it or not, there are valid criticisms of Obama.


People are alternately offended by Planned Parenthood, Confederate flags, same-sex marriage, comparisons of food stamp recipients to wild animals, transsexual former Olympic superstars, you name it, we have a lot to be offended by.


Perhaps the best thing about our version of American culture is how the divisive political culture and everyone’s ability to publish their own thoughts via social media streams has created the counter-offended crowd.


I am perpetually amazed at how no issue is allowed to be black and white anymore. We can’t agree on anything.


Depending on who makes the initial statement, the "other siders" will be compelled to take the other side no matter how ridiculous it is.


If someone says the Confederate flag stands for racism, there is a push-back that says it is about southern heritage. A new group of people rises up to be offended that the first group was offended by the racism embodied in what that flag represents.


When an anti-abortion group somehow tapes a Planned Parenthood worker talking about using aborted tissue for science or selling it somehow, the initial reaction is the pro-life crowd going crazy about trafficking human organs and how if this was happening to puppies, someone would be in jail. Somehow, despite how repulsive the idea is that human fetuses might be used in that way, the pro-choice crowd jumps in the middle of the argument to "clarify" what is truly happening with Planned Parenthood and how it isn’t as bad as it sounds.


Our society is now divided into offenders and offendeds. No one is ever satisfied to believe what he believes and give everyone else the same freedom.


This is America.


You have the right to hate people if you want. But if you hate black people, going to a Juneteenth celebration wearing a white power T-shirt is not about being free, that is a direct assault on a group of people.


If the Confederate flag is about heritage and not hate, you would fly it in your home or on your pickup tag and stay home when the president comes to town.


Being thoughtful of someone else’s feelings has now been demonized as political correctness. You aren’t being outspoken. You are being rude.


At some point, we have to stop worrying about what we have a right to say and think instead about what is right to say.


Kent Bush is the publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star. Email him at kent.bush@news-star.com.