Why do we get so worked up about sports? I think the answer can be found in the human tendency toward building identities around and finding security within group membership, as well as the zeal with which we often engage in othering associated with the identities we construct for ourselves and ascribe to the members of different groups.
Some of the terms are new -- Ebola, for example -- but the tactics are the same. We have the tools to fight back: strong coalitions, positive national security, veterans and immigration reform messages, and rejection of these politics of personal destruction. But we need to use them -- consistently and courageously.