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?