American Culture

Liberal civility, circa 2018

Asking the Press Secretary to leave the Red Hen might not be “civil” per the usual definition, but with a fascist in the White House, it’s about as civil as Donald’s supporters should expect.

When talking about words, I like to start from the dictionary definition whenever possible. Some words, like “fascism,” defy simple explanation in the dictionary. But others are pretty clear-cut. Take “civil,” for example:

2 a : civilized – civil society
b : adequate in courtesy and politeness : mannerly

(From Merriam-Webster Online)

Being civil means being polite, courteous, even respectful. It definitely doesn’t mean being rude, inconsiderate, or disrespectful.

If you listen to Donald’s speeches, watch Fox News, or read nearly any pro-Donald social media, you’ve probably heard that Scott Pruitt was confronted during dinner about his anti-environmentalism, that Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Red Hen restaurant by the owner, and that Department of Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled during dinner at a Mexican restaurant. On some level, having your dinner disturbed or ended is rude and thus, not civil. On another level, at least two of the previous examples showed polite statements and courteous requests to change their behavior.

On one hand, I understand why people are calling for civility these days. No-one likes being called a hypocrite, mocked mercilessly by liberals amused by a fictional second Civil War starting on July 4, being heckled during dinner, or being labeled (however accurately) as a fascist. And it’s not like those things exactly win converts among the people targeted.

On the other hand, I also understand why liberals are doing these things, and why calls for civility per the dictionary definition are falling of deaf ears.

There was a point where I would have been one of the people calling for civility myself. But there are some hills worth dying on, hopefully metaphorically speaking, and Donald and too damned many of his supporters are charging up my chosen hill as well as several nearby hills I also care a great deal about.

Given the state of America right now – July 4, 2018 – liberals are are being civil. America is facing multiple existential threats to the American way of life (flawed though it may be), to our Constitution, to our institutions, to our elections, and to our citizens. We’re dealing with an authentic 1930s-style fascist in the Oval Office who wants to replace the word of law with imperial decrees and has indicated an interest in becoming President For Life.

Given this situation, how do you know liberals are being civil? We’re still using words.

Asking someone to leave a restaurant may not be polite, but it’s still better than calling ICE on the pizza delivery guy.

Heckling someone while they’re eating dinner may not be respectful, but it’s still better than ripping a child from his or her parent(s) when they ask for asylum, or forcing young children to appear in immigration court alone, without a parent or lawyer present.

Calling for anyone working for Donald to be shamed and harassed is better than driving a car into unarmed protesters (killing one in the process).

If you want to talk civilly, I’m sure most liberals would be thrilled to do so. But first you have to stop getting your “news” from, Infowars, and even Fox News, stop pretending that you’re a Christian when you’re ignoring Jesus’ teachings left and right and pretending the 10 Commandments are mere suggestions, and for gods’ sake, stop supporting the actual fascist in the White House.

It’s time to put up or shut up, Republicans and Donald supporters. Or be prepared to be handed a ration of shit for your own hypocrisy, dishonesty, and other moral failings. It may not be civil in the dictionary sense of the word, but that’s your fault, not ours.