In pursuit of civility Featured

IMG 0772The old-fashioned snail mail letter was quick and to the point as well as being in all caps:
“The felon Hillary lost her fat sloppy ass and you fruit cakes just can not get over that fact. Now go to your safe place and whack off you sick piece of sh*t.”
Meanwhile, the president’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was politely asked to leave and left a rural Virginia restaurant this weekend.
That move spurred a variety of actions that led to an unprecedented action this week: the president’s press secretary now has secret service protection.
Sanders has no doubt received a variety of threats – as has many of us who are covering this administration.

CNN’s Jim Acosta got trolled and insulted at a recent presidential rally. He offered a member of the audience who had insulted him a chair to enjoy the proceedings and told members of the audience he was there to do his job and will continue to do it.
Acosta has received a variety of insults and threats as has Baltimore radio reporter April Ryan. There will be no Secret Service protection for them – though there have been threats.
The administration is appealing for civility, and point at Rep. Maxine Waters’ recent diatribe against Trump and his supporters as a need to tread lightly. I am all for civility and as I’ve said publicly, I think Waters went a little over the top, but I certainly understand the behavior though I do not condone it.
But I also don’t condone the president insulting reporters with disabilities, offering bail to his supporters if they punch out a protester, ripping immigrant children from their mothers, calling reporters the enemy of the people, and lying to the residents of this country so frequently when Sanders gets up in the White House press briefing room and appeals for civility she has absolutely no credibility to do so.
The call for civility should be heeded on both sides. Chances are it won’t. It comes from the top. President Donald Trump is the most uncivil president to occupy the bully pulpit in my lifetime and probably in the history of the Republic.
His surrogates have enraged, denigrated and insulted a wide variety of Americans, from immigrants, to second-generation Americans, women, people of color, Muslims, anyone not an evangelical Christian and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Okay, Redskin fans aren’t that upset about the last group so much.
But the simple fact is the administration asking for civility hasn’t displayed any, and while I respect and encourage civility, questioning the president or pointing out his inconsistencies and lies does not qualify as being rude, uncivil or unjust.
It is purely American.
The un-American activity is attempting to bully those who disagree with the president into miserable silence.
I disagree with what you say, but defend to death your right to say it has no place in today’s political culture. Two sides of the political culture are reduced to demeaning and infuriating those with whom they disagree.
Again, it is all on the president. He created this environment. He exploited it. He pushes people to blind fealty or bitter opposition without ever once trying to find a middle ground.
The more he plays to his isolated base, the more he infuriates and enrages others – many of whom want to be part of the big tent that used to be the aim of the GOP and the Democratic party.
Not so much. Not anymore.
The president continues to hide from the public, enraging his opposition while his press secretary calls for civility and has to settle with Secret Service protection.
While each individual is responsible for their own actions, there is little doubt where the inspiration comes from regarding divisiveness.
While this newspaper has received numerous letters in the past both praising and condemning our efforts, nothing compares to today’s letter writers.
Those who disagree with us now are as crass and abrasive as anything I’ve ever seen in civil society.
We shrug these letters off and print the vast majority of them.
The most annoying part of those types of letters is the lack of grammar and the horrible spelling.
Call that elitism if you wish. I merely call it the editor in me rising to the top. At the end of the day, those who want civility should show it.
It isn’t uncivil to ask questions. It isn’t rude to demand answers. Civility isn’t displayed in fealty or in being obsequious. You can ask questions. You can disagree. You can do it as passionately as you want.
You can do all of these things without talking about crotch grabbing, calling immigrants “animals”, the media “enemies of the people,” claiming the poorest among us are an “infestation,’ or threatening bodily harm to those who disagree with you. If you can speak without succumbing to your base instincts, then you may have some credibility in claiming you want civility.
But not until then.



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