On “Incivility”

It has been interesting here in America watching the response of our pols and the population in general to the acts of “incivility” of those “radical leftists” publicly confronting officials of the emperor’s court.

Oh!  It’s just terrible!  Trump official’s are having restaurant troubles!

Last week Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attempted to dine with her family at a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, and the owner decided, in consultation with her employees, to refuse to serve them. This follows on the heels of senior policy adviser Stephen Miller being called a fascist in a D.C. Mexican restaurant, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen being heckled out of another Mexican restaurant by protesters.

It was all topped by a young female Senate intern who shouted “F..k you Mr. President!” as Trump was walking through the capitol to meet with Republicans about their immigration bills, all of which were defeated this week.  Even in full control of both houses of Congress, the G.O.P couldn’t agree on anything.

Tsk tsk.

A certain class of centrist liberal was upset by this supposed affront to civility.   The Washington Post editorial board wrote that current history doesn’t justify uncivil behavior, and Sanders “should be allowed to eat dinner in peace.” Former Obama adviser David Axelrod tweeted that he was “appalled” at people celebrating Sanders getting kicked out.

“In the crucial months ahead, we must strive to make America beautiful again,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said. “Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable. As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea.”

What tripe.

Michelle Obama’s 2016 declaration that “when they go low, we go high” quickly became the unofficial motto of the anti-Trump resistance. But instead of being used against Trump himself, this attitude is now being wielded against protesters confronting his administration’s obscene immigration-detention policies. Even in the face of family separations, a racist travel ban, and overt, violent white nationalism supported by the upper echelons of this country’s government, pundits have clung to a seemingly indelible faith in decorum over moral clarity. That’s its own kind of terrifying.

Not that anyone cares what an old retired crank living in Florida thinks or gives a rat’s ass.

First of all, we should be clear about is going on. Nobody jumped Miller and beat him senseless, or made any violent threats, or even broke anything. Same goes for Secretary Nielsen.  The confrontations were all clearly within the nonviolent political tradition of boycott, protest, and civil disobedience.

As for the odious Sarah the Huck Sanders, she was asked politely and quietly by the restaurant owner to leave.  No hub bub; no “scene.”

Doesn’t sound very radical to this old veteran of the 1960s.

So of course the right claimed it was a victim, that radical lefties were threatening violence against good public servants. Sanders was given secret service protection for being asked politely to leave a restaurant!

Only Congresswoman Maxine Waters spoke out calling for public peaceful confrontation wherever Administrations officials popped up in public.  The emperor immediately called her a “very low I.Q. individual” which is what he has been calling her for months.

Talk about civility.

President Trump himself is 10 times more uncivil than any protester. He’s a man who has boasted about sexual assault on tape, who threatens to jail his political opponents, who lies with practically every breath, who makes a mockery of deliberative democracy, and who is more publicly coarse and rude than any president since Andrew Johnson. And because he is the most powerful person on Earth, that incivility is significantly times more influential than any lefty protester on Earth.

For someone legitimately concerned about political incivility, the far right should rationally get about 90 percent of the attention. But civility worriers have internalized the fact that the right could not possibly care what they think or say (unless it is to laugh in their faces for being prissy and easily-bullied). It feels pointless to hit Trump for being an indecent monster, because it basically is pointless. Nobody will ever convince the hard right of anything; if we want to stop them they must be politically defeated.  In this discourse the anxiety caused by the president of the United States being an oaf gets transferred onto a handful of powerless college students and peaceful protesters the result of which is to sow disunity and bitter arguments among the opposition to Trump over “civility.”.

When black members of the civil-rights movement demanded to be treated equally by sitting in at lunch counters, blocking highways, and confronting public officials, they were labeled traitorous and impatient. The “be patient” attitude of white moderates famously prompted King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” in which he wrote that “nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”

The actions we’re seeing around the country today have involved no violence–just mild discomfort. Still, civility enforcers like former education secretary Arne Duncan seem committed to taking the dumbest possible lesson from the civil-rights movement. “No matter how much we dislike or disagree with someone, we should not deny them the chance to have a meal,” Duncan tweeted. “The history in our country of denying people access to restaurants, to water fountains and even bathrooms is too raw, too real.”

Oh the ignorance!  Or perhaps not ignorance; just outright false analogies.   If you take from the civil-rights movement that denial of service is a slippery slope, you may have missed that the movement wasn’t about pancakes and coffee but about eradicating inequality upheld by armed white people

Between the enormous power of the state and the average citizen, polite dialogue is a charade that props up power. Comforting the afflicted is a fine philosophy—but it doesn’t get too far if it does not afflct the comfortable.

How many times has the President railed during his campaign speeches – “I wanna punch ’em in the mouth!” – “Get him the hell out of here,” “Lock her up!” and of course the now infamous but forgotten “Grab ’em by the pussy?”

And of course his “nicknames” for his opponents:  “Little” Marco, “Lying “Ted”,  “Low Energy”Jeb, “Crooked Hillary,” “Crazy Bernie.’  Notice he didn’t spare Republicans; talk about a lack of cojones on their part.  Being civil got them nowhere.

So administration officials are having difficulty dining at restaurants?  Guess they’re not used to getting the boot.


Karma’s a bitch ain’t it?  None of these folks got their panties or tightie-whities in a snit when the gay couple was shown the door because of the baker’s  “beliefs.”   Now they are whining about “harassment”  like little wooses.  The right as “victim.”

The president has said that immigrants will “infest” the United States and proceeded to separate their families and intern them. It is terrifying. His use of the word “infest” carries with it connotations from an infamous Nazi propaganda movie equating Jews with diseased rats and vermin.  It is sad. But there can be no equivalence between this brutal wielding of power and the actions of activists who transgress dining norms in an effort to expose it.

To cling to civility is to allow the powerful to commit crimes, as long as they do so with a smile and a handshake.

They should be reduced to eating only at Trump properties and peacefully confronted everywhere they go.

You can’t fight injustice with decorum.

Finally to those voters out there who viewed the last Presidential election as a choice between equivalents and tossed their vote away to Jill Stein in “protest.”  Through your arrogance and self righteousness you gave the emperor his margin of victory in several battle ground states.  And for you middle class women living comfortable lives in leafy suburbs who wanted a “strong, forceful” leader, you can now live with the distinct possibility of losing control of your body.  Congratulations.  You may wind up back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant – just as you were when I was a child.




About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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4 Responses to On “Incivility”

  1. beetleypete says:

    The bakery issue is a good comparison. If they are allowed to refuse to bake a cake for gay people, then the restaurants should be allowed to refuse to serve the officials whose actions they find offensive. Perhaps one of the best examples of the old saying, “You can’t have your cake, and eat it too”. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. DesertAbba says:

    Love your subtly, Frank! So very well said! There are too few of us old farts from the 60s.The only thing civility in the face of trumpism will result in is a battered and bruised niceness.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For me, you are a voice of reason and clarity in these times of great unraveling.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pamela A. Torres says:

    Again, my husband and I made damn well sure neither of us voted for Trump, and yet it made no difference whatsoever against the millions of redneck, misogynistic white supremacist apes who did. For decades elections present the illusion of free choice, so even when you try not to let the wrong person get inaugurated, your word doesn’t count or matter at all. And on top of this, for women, blacks, immigrants, gays and lesbians, our society is spiraling backwards and we can’t do anything about it. Nothing changes for the better except for the rich.


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