Have We Lost All Civility?

In Kentucky a man brutally beats a woman because he thinks she looks like a dyke, smashing her face and kicking her stomach and back. No one lifts a finger to help. Her looks, other than a shortish haircut, are decidedly ordinary and feminine.

London installs a popularly elected Muslim mayor, and conservatives of the US go ballistic with hate, anger, insults, falsehoods, and other forms of Islamophobia, much of it coming from Donald Trump.

A man on the street attacks a Buddhist priest, bashing his head against a rock and screaming about his hatred of Muslims. The priest later responds by lamenting the horrible life his attacker must have.

On airplanes, people are attacked for their appearance, their religion, for speaking a non-English language, for having dark skin, and even for doing algebra. In record numbers they are taken off the flight for stupid reasons or no reason because someone “feels threatened” by one of these ordinary persons. Now that Spanish speakers are the majority in California, should they feel threatened by someone who doesn’t speak the majority language—Spanish?

A Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Florida repeatedly refers to President Barack Obama as an “animal” at a county GOP meeting. Republicans have for Obama’s entire two terms used racist words that insult the office of president. These unprecedented insults have focussed on animal claims like “monkey” (even stooping so low as to call the Obama kids “monkey children”), on endless claims he is Muslim and born in Kenya, and fascism, claiming he did things that are not actually in his power to do, such as seizing citizens’ guns and causing the current bathroom usage stupidity.

Who are these ridiculous and violent people? They are almost all Republicans.

Have we always been so nasty? Is it really necessary for them to behave so badly? Some time ago I saw the movie “Lincoln”, in which the various politicians from all parties said a lot of insulting things about their opponents. It was an insult contest. They all spoke insults to their faces, to great cheers from their comrades; there was no internet to hide their identity. And yet, nasty as their comments were, and raucous as their meetings were, nobody (at least in the movie; I assume it is somewhat historically accurate) threw a fist.

So the answer is: maybe. But the world today makes our almost complete lack of civility more dangerous. We have a racist liar as the Republican front runner for president. (Yes, he’s obviously a racist. Yes, he’s a liar. Fact checkers can’t keep up, because every time he speaks, lies are some 80% of what he says.) Trumpsters physically assault people they disagree with (although some Dems are striving to catch up). Sometimes they are provoked, but other times they punch total strangers who show support for a Democrat.

Trumpsters are angry, and the collapse of the American dream gives them reason for it, but their anger is directed at handy targets selected by Donald Trump and other racists, mostly people with darker skin. This bodes poorly for them, because it is the white super-rich who are responsible for their plight, and that will not change if Republicans rule. It would be a hard truth for Trumpsters to swallow.

This is not how a presidency should be decided, nor should our ordinary lives be so ugly. There should be at least a modicum of civility between all persons. Complete “truth” is not possible because different people have varying versions of things. But factual information should be mostly correct, not 80% wrong. Physical attacks should not be part of the electoral process any more than in daily life. Nobody should use derogatory names for their opponent, or any other representative of the people, not to mention their neighbor. This is something that Trump can’t seem to understand. He routinely finds derogatory nicknames for those he disagrees with, and dishonors the position they have earned. Perhaps it is to make up for the fact that he has earned nothing by himself other than some money, and there’s even some question about that.

So far, virtually all of the faults lie on the Republican side, particularly with Donald Trump. This playground bullying sets not only the wrong tone for an election, it points to the extreme danger a Trump presidency would create, both for domestic and international issues. No one could rely on any sort of truth in any setting. What we could rely on would be name-calling at the junior high school level. Is this what we want for the most powerful nation in history?

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Sadly what you’ve said is the whole truth and nothing but; It did not come as a shock to me that London has elected a Muslim to be the Lord Mayor, what didn’t surprise me was that the media made a point of letting the rest of the world
    know. I doubt that the Londoners really give a damn what religion he is so long as he can do the job.

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  2. Reblogged this on LordBeariOfBow and commented:
    I don’t think anyone can argue with this……….

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  3. I’ve rebloged this post John

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  4. I can’t really argue with your assessment other than to say I think the media hype everything all out of proportion to reality. The reality is what you see around you in your community. Everyday Americans going about their everyday lives. Nothing interesting enough for the media to talk about.

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  5. One needs to read some history as far as elections and civility are concerned. People don’t believe me when I say we are setting nothing new (as far as civility goes, especially in politics). Certainly, people are shocked, shocked, I tell you when I reference name calling directed at Bush while he was in office. Or the fact his effigy was set on fire, or any of the many other disrespectful behavior by Democrats toward the office and the person who occupied it and his family.

    Mind you, I’m not condoning like behavior by Republicans. It’s all despicable, but so is forgetting offenses committed by those one agrees with.

    Racism? Nothing new there. Homophobia? Nothing new there. Insensitivity to others? Nothing new there. Violence in political contexts? You have got to be kidding! Absolutely nothing new there, or are we forgetting the riots in the sixties?

    Human nature has not somehow regressed. Quite the opposite. What has changed is the level of reporting and sensationalizing of every local incident onto the national and international stage. That, itself, promotes more of the same as people’s emotions are stoked by opportunistic bombastic bastards occupying both sides of the political divide.

    I dare say, as well-intentioned as this might be, this post is no better as it generalized literally half a country based on the actions of very few and ignores the fact there’s lack of civility spanning the whole of the political and social spectrum . . . as it has for the span of human memory.

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    • In general, I’m inclined to agree with you. After all, there is evidence for less war and violence overall. One would hope that this would extend to personal behavior, but it seems to me the conditions of modern life–worse weapons, the anonymity of the internet, the blatant and loud racism of Trump, and more, creates the opposite.

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  6. As an Australian I am fearful of the effect of a Trump victory. Already a Rise Up Australia party is reflecting the same paranoia here. I do recall many Leftist gibes at Bush but I don’t remember such behaviour as we have seen recently. A very relevant post.

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  7. The world is watching with alarm. I hate the way every politician constantly blames the media for their troubles (not enough coverage, too much coverage), but I’m beginning to think the media is responsible for the Trump debacle—they’ve given him way too much air. Take the media sights off of him and see what happens.

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