SAN DIEGO, Ca — Uncertainty, thy name is San Diego.
California’s jewel-like second largest city, with its 70 miles of sparkling beaches, is now facing two cliff hangers in a century rife with uncertainty.
Will the San Diego Chargers move to Los Angeles County and take an emerging offer-they-can’t-refuse for a state-of-the-art stadium?
USA Today notes that the Chargers leaving would “add to this sunny city’s long list of lost seasons, lost teams and lost players.” The Chargers fans group Save Our Bolts holds meetings and rallies, trying to unite city and fan interests. Will the Chargers evacuate and leave San Diego a poorer sports city in this new century?
Meanwhile, my alma mater newspaper San Diego UT (formerly the San Diego Union Tribune) has been sold… again… this time to the Los Angeles Times’ parent company, Tribune Publishing.
Many here welcome the paper getting out of the hands of developer Doug Manchester, who the New York Times noted used the paper as a “brochure for his special interests.” Some San Diegans didn’t want to buy a paper owned by a man whose slogan seemingly was “Things Go Better With Koch” — and whose editorial positions made the old Copley-family owners seem moderate. Will San Diego’s venerable voice become a skeleton crew operation that’s a mere satellite of the L.A. Times?
This is part of our century’s motif: Uncertainty, and likelihood that former “givens” will be subtracted from daily life. It looks like we’re heading into a bittersweet, turbulent and perhaps in some ways terrifying era.
Police and law enforcement: Strip away polemics and emotions, and it’s a clear we haven’t seen so many reports of police shooting suspects or dogs as we’ve seen over the past several years. Why? Is the threshold for violence lower? Are citizens more violent and threatening? Or are camcorders, Twitter, Facebook, and Internet news sites magnifying and politicizing occurrences that for years but weren’t thrust within seconds into the national consciousness, dissected and (correctly or not) challenged? Will law enforcement have to respond or change in coming years? Will police issues further polarize a polarized country?
ISIS’ Threat Grows: ISIS can be compared to the Nazis. Whether decapitating foes, burning victims alive, throwing gays off buildings, or destroying ancient art treasures, ISIS continues virtually unchecked. Its state-of-the-art social media and Hollywood documentary techniques help recruit young people who can aggressively live in an action movie –and be assured it’s all holy work. The student who shouted at Jeb Bush: “Your brother created ISIS” was right – some founders were Sadaam’s military fired en mass when George W. Bush was President. There is little solid evidence ISIS’ allure to young people is being reduced, and that it won’t be a major threat for decades to come. The Nazi’s tried to hide their barbarity; for ISIS, it’s a recruiting tool.
The Legitimization of Nutcase Paranoia Politics: They need to write a book “Profiles in Cowardice” for the Republican presidential wannabes who didn’t have the guts to unconditionally repudiate the contention by some Texas Twilight Zoners that the United States military could invade Texas. To paraphrase John Dean: there is a cancer on our politics.
Provocation Works and Sells: When Pam Geller of the anti-Muslim American Freedom Defense Initiative ran a contest defiantly seeking cartoons depicting Muhammad, as The New Yorker put it, “the principle of free speech confronted American society’s unwritten code of restraint on contemptuous stereotyping.” Those blasting her intentionally trying to offend Muslims were called anti free-speech. ISIS claimed responsibility for a thwarted attack on the event that left two dead. And Geller got an op-ed in Time magazine, a Q&A in Newsweek, appearances on cable and no doubt will get fat speaking fees and a book deal. Notoriety sells.
San Diego proudly calls itself “America’s Finest City.” I doubt this will be called “The World’s Finest Century.”
Copyright 2015 Joe Gandelman. This weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.