BAILEY T. STEEN | TUESDAY, 26 JUNE, 2018
OH, THE CIVILITY! THE CIVILITY!
Last week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was kicked out by the owners of a Lexington, Virginia restaurant, known as the Red Hen, following the weeks of negative media coverage surrounding the administration’s unethical detainment of migrant children, left in cages once forcibly separated from their parents, once found illegally crossing the border. On Twitter, Trump’s communications bureaucrat played the role of right-wing social justice warrior, presenting citizens who are protesting their government officials as these bigots who deserve full-on outrage. Soon sparking a debate about the lack of “respect” and “civility” in the public discourse they, based on political opinion, feel entitled to without second thought.
“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left,” Sanders wrote. “Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”
Republicans, framing adversarial civil disobedience to be the oppression inflicted on the likes of Rosa Parks, continued to show solidarity outrage for the likes of Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, as well as Stephen Miller, the president’s senior advisor for policy at The White House, who were both asked to leave Washington D.C. based Mexican restaurants following left-wing protests labelling them “fascist”. It’s gotten to the point the tech companies have made apps to serve young Trump supporters who publicly admit they’re incels who can’t seem to get a date.
As pointed out by Jessica Valenti, controversial columnist for The Guardian, the left is often framed as either intolerant or, citing an actual contributor for Fox News, some rabid “leftist mob that is approaching near anarchy”. This social justice warrior problem on the left can’t be denied. We’ve seen the spawning of ANTIFA, the anarcho-communist terrorist group, known for their suppression of right-wing lectures and their indiscriminate assault against men, women and minorities across university campuses. This is a problem. However, before nosediving into how, all of the sudden, the world’s gone crazy, pro-Trump conservatives should consider this humble piece of advise from Valenti — self-reflection: “When you do and defend terrible things,” she writes, “people don’t really want to be around you.”
This kind of social ostracism, evidently, is just the result free association at work, which seems counter-interpreted by the right-wing as outrageous oppression to their odd notions about free speech. “Everyone is in favour of free speech,” once wrote Winston Churchill. “Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.”
This is the same idea of the establishment, who have a vested interest in maintaining the political status quo, who repeated such a narrative hook, line and sinker.
David Axelrod, former Senior Advisor to the White House, took to Twitter to say he was was both “amazed and appalled” by the progressive protests.
“This, in the end, is a triumph for @realDonaldTrump vision of America: Now we’re divided by red plates & blue plates! #sad”.
Arne Duncan, Obama’s former secretary of education, drew comparisons between the public official, criticised for her record, and racial segregation discrimination — which didn’t go without criticism itself:
They were joined by the editorial board for The Washington Post, holding no love for those branded Trump™, repeating the same silencing rhetoric in condemning the progressive activists for their “incivility”, scolding their fellow man by saying “let the Trump team eat in peace”.
“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,” the editors wrote. “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?”
Once someone enters the public sphere, paid by the taxpayer, perhaps their isn’t. Pro-life advocates, who border on the thinking that every hand job is a genocide, regularly protest outside Planned Parenthoods across the country, let alone their violent who have illegally murdered providers outright. Illegal actions, of course, are unquestionably wrong, but is impolite dissent in the form of unkind words, particularly against our public representatives, unjust?
Incivility in politics doesn’t mean rudeness or mean tweets. It means dissent.
What can be more American than political dissent? The history books will say the country was discovered in 1492, but these conservatives know that American identity was truly formed in 1776, where the public fought to the bitter end of a violent revolution against the British empire. Turn on the likes of Alex Jones and you’ll have this red-blooded patriot rhetoric blasted in your ear 24/7. Why is far more civilised political dissent, in the form of screaming and criticism, however, condemned as uncivil when it’s from progressives?
From their questionable kneeling during the national anthem, protesting for the lives of those unethically taken at the hands of police brutality, to the underage asylum seekers held in captivity under foil blankets, why can’t these representatives, responsible for actions outside of a 9–5 roster, be held to account for human rights violations? These protestors recognise that as their public officials eat — in, of all places, Mexican restaurants — their policies, funded on their dime and in their name, continue into the night while away from their cushy White House offices. And yet their officials crackdown on the private sector for this dissent, even when it’s the wrong Red Hen restaurants they’re pressuring to stay quiet. That isn’t free speech. That’s censorship.
Their reason for denial was not based on those immutable characteristics, protected under The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prevent discrimination on the basis of sex, race, gender, etc. They chose these policies. It was President Donald Trump who chose to sign an executive order ending this condemned “no tolerance” policy towards families at the border. They chose their words, whether it was Jeff Session’s bible defence of the policies or the press secretary’s daily briefings who, in tandem, spread lies upon lies about it. These protests are free speech and free association — free from unethical discrimination — and their proponents unable to reap what they sow.
Thanks for reading!
Bailey T. Steen is a journalist, editor, artist and film critic based in Victoria, Australia, but is also Putin’s Puppet™ on occasion.
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Cheers, darlings!! 💋