civility

Beltway media elites clutching their pearls over White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders getting kicked out of a restaurant and feigning concern for a lack of “civility” need to have several seats.

On Sunday, the Washington Post Editorial Board published their take on Sanders’ ejection from The Red Hen — a restaurant in Virginia — by asking us all to “Let the Trump team eat in peace.” The editorial also criticized protesters surrounding Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House adviser Stephen Miller (the architect of the Trump administration’s former policy of taking undocumented children away from their parents) at DC-area restaurants.

“Those who are insisting that we are in a special moment justifying incivility should think for a moment how many Americans might find their own special moment. How hard is it to imagine, for example, people who strongly believe that abortion is murder deciding that judges or other officials who protect abortion rights should not be able to live peaceably with their families?” The Post argued. “Down that road lies a world in which only the most zealous sign up for public service. That benefits no one.”

Former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (who once circulated a memo encouraging Republicans to call Democrats “traitors”) piled on, saying that “nastiness reflects desperation, not strength.”

Obviously, American political debate should be a place for civility when people of opposing political ideologies are stumping for votes. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) gave a great example of civility when he talked down a woman at a 2008 rally who said that then-candidate Barack Obama was an “Arab.”

“No ma’am,” Sen. McCain said. “He’s a decent, family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues.”

Political disagreements can and should always be civil. But the public response to Secretary Nielsen, Stephen Miller, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the right of every American. When you’re a public figure responsible for writing and/or defending policies that are destroying families, you should not expect silence from the public.

Protesters weren’t running Nielsen and Miller out of restaurants for being Republicans. Sanders was not asked to leave The Red Hen because she’s a Republican. These individuals — as well as anyone else who works for the Trump administration — are complicit in what the United Nations (UN) would define as genocide. Article II of the UN’s 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide specifically defines genocide as “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” Most would agree that genocide and civility are incongruous.

Even though President Trump last week signed an executive order ending the practice of separating undocumented families at the border, and even though 500 of those children have reportedly been reunited with their families, there is currently no official policy as of this writing to put families broken apart by the Trump administration’s cruel policy back together. And in fact, pediatricians are saying that the trauma the undocumented children have suffered after being taken from their parents may be “irreparable.” This is particularly for children aged zero to five, when 90 percent of brain development happens. Where was the Trump administration’s “civility” for these families?

If the beltway media elite wants to wring their hands about a lack of civility, they could start by covering the Poor People’s Campaign, in which more than 100 clergy members and other citizens were arrested just last Thursday at the U.S. Capitol building. Protesters were merely demanding lawmakers champion policies that help working-class Americans, instead of just corporations and the wealthy — as exemplified by the latest GOP budget proposal that keeps tax cuts for the rich intact while slashing healthcare for the poor. Where is our government’s civility for nonviolent demonstrators, or for the poor who are being actively harmed by our government’s harsh policies?

Until the Trump administration exercises a basic modicum of civility toward immigrant families, the poor, and citizens whose lives are under constant attack by their policies, it’s unreasonable for them to expect any civility from the public. If they don’t want to get run out of restaurants by crowds of angry protesters, maybe they should stop and reflect on the harm they’re causing to their fellow human beings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *