Some thoughts on the “can’t we just be civil?” argument…
1. I have approximately zero interest in remaining “civil” when the “opinions” held by those in power legislate my trans students out of existence…or make it possible to fire gay employees for being gay…or separate kids from their parents at the border…or denigrate women…or refer to Mexicans as rapists…or label all Muslims as terrorists. We aren’t talking about differing opinions on marginal tax rates; we’re talking about existential human rights issues. And the party that is dedicated to eliminating certain elements of our population. Hint: It’s the party that supported Nazis in Charlottesville…Nazis.
2. Of course not ALL Republicans feel this way, or are racists…but if they voted for Trump, they’ve made the decision that they are ok with a racist being president so long as their taxes get cut. That makes them “racist adjacent.” Which is enough for me to not worry about “civility.”
3. This “civility” mantra usually is attached to a call for “unity”. Here’s my question: Unite with whom? Nazis? No, thank you. Racists? Nope. Sexists? Nah. If folks who voted for Trump and realized they made a mistake want to come over to the light, fine. But if someone is so politically craven that they’ll vote for a racist so their paycheck goes up by a little bit, or they get a Supreme Court that will abolish a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her health, that’s not someone I have any interest in “uniting” with. I’ve lost a number of old, long-time close personal friends over this stuff…and while it’s painful to lose a friend over politics, it’s even more painful to see our country’s leadership get co-opted by racists.
4. People talk about finding this bomber and prosecuting him, but we just watched Trump ram through a SCOTUS justice with a sham FBI investigation…so I’m not feeling too confident about this administration’s commitment to “justice.”
5. Finally, re: “civility”…I’m beyond tired of being lectured to about civility by people who are really just hoping to silence any voices that disagree with Trump’s agenda…and while some who spout this “civility” stuff claim to be liberals, and I believe them, it appears that they have bought this fairy tale, hook, line, and sinker. I did, too, in 2016, when a friend told me I was being “too negative” about Trump, and in so doing was influencing undecided voters to support him.
Let me put this clearly–that’s just utter nonsense. As it turned out, that friend was a closet Trump supporter, and he was telling all his liberal friends this hooey in the hope of decreasing the amount of criticism against his candidate.
I’m a pretty civil person in my day to day life, and as a teacher I value civility and respectful debate. But we are in the political fight of our lives, and fighting an opponent who uses our values of thoughtful, reasoned debate against us. So with all due respect, spare me the lectures on “civility” when it comes to this president, his policies, and his followers.
And yes, I know that Michelle Obama and Joe Biden are calling for civility “on both sides.” But with all due respect, when they go low, they somehow find a way to keep going lower. There’s no basement to the Trump Tower we find ourselves trapped in as a nation, and while just “going high” may sound good, and noble, being good and noble will not be enough to protect our friends who are under attack, and the most vulnerable among us who are the easiest targets for this demagogue in the White House.
So, if you don’t have the stomach for this fight, that’s fine–step away, take a knee, do what you need to do. But don’t try to tone police those of us who do.