As part of Bakersfield College series of weekly events to celebrate Veterans Day, BC hosted a Zoom session with author and veteran David French on Nov. 10, where he discussed his thoughts on the current state of the country.
French is a senior editor at the Dispatch and a columnist for Time Magazine. He is also a New York Time’s best-selling author and he just released his latest book “Divided We Fall.”
French is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a constitutional lawyer.
In 2007 French was deployed to Iraq with the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment.
He later returned in late Sept. of 2008 and was eventually awarded the Bronze Star for his service.
French said that his time in the service really altered his perspective.
Before his deployment, French worked as a Civil Liberties lawyer and states he was a “pretty Partisan Republican.”
During this time, he viewed Left-wing supporters as the enemy.
However, his outlook changed completely once he arrived in Iraq.
While in Iraq, French fought against the precursor to ISIS and witnessed many atrocities.
“I realized that is an enemy. My friends on the left at home, that is not an enemy,” French said.
French began to question why viewing opposing political parties as enemies were so common. He even changed his own outlook and started to view Left-wing supporters as political opponents rather than enemies.
French felt shame in his previous perspective and realized when you are fighting for your country, you are not fighting for just Republicans or Democrats, you are fighting for all Americans.
“Why would I think the people I am willing to risk my life for are my enemy?” French said.
When French returned home in 2008, he was disappointed to see that Americans disliked each other even more than when he left.
“I began to see that the people were nursing grievances,” French said.
He started to witness narratives on both sides that were driving the American people apart.
French says there are three big concepts that make everything worse.
The first of these concepts is “The Big Sort.” This is when people associate themselves with only people who agree with them. The problems with this are that you get too many like-minded people and they don’t become diverse enough.
The second concept is “The Law of Group Polarization.” This when people of like minds gather, they become more extreme. It is bad to become the more extreme that people get, the bigger the separation of people in America will be.
The third concept is “The Overton Window.” This is what you are allowed to say without being canceled. The problem with this is that you are less capable of speaking to other people.
These concepts are making Americans view their differences between one another as a threat to their beliefs and way of life.
French believes there are three ways to fix this, one being from a personal standpoint, policy standpoint, and character standpoint.
From a personal standpoint, French believes that the people of America need to become more tolerant of one another.
From a policy standpoint, he believes that America needs a reinvigorated Bill of Rights and needs to remembrance pluralism.
And from a character standpoint, French believes that America needs to give its people more control over their lives.