The fallacy of civility, or why it’s OK to be rude to racists and Nazis

There has been much discussion lately about whether or not the left should try to maintain some level of civility in these difficult times.  I can’t speak for everyone, but in my own mind, I don’t think there is any point to trying to be civil to a bunch of people who themselves stopped being civil long ago.  The editorial board of the Washington Post does not agree, and they are apparently clutching their pearls so tightly that they have cut off circulation to their brain.

“We nonetheless would argue that Ms. Huckabee, and Ms. Nielsen and Mr. Miller, too, should be allowed to eat dinner 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. 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?”

I would laugh, except this level of stupidity in one of the supposed flagship newspapers of our era actually makes me want to sob uncontrollably.  Um… news flash, geniuses: those people have not been left in peace for, let’s see, several decades.  In fact, they have been bombed and shot and stabbed and otherwise terrorized in every meaning of that word.  John Salvi killed two people and wounded five right here in the Boston area back in 1994.

It’s like with Trump supporters.  When have they ever been civil, honestly?  They relish being offensive.  It’s one of the things they LOVE about Trump.

Trump-2016-Fuck-your-feelings-720x480

In case you can’t read it, that woman’s shirt says “Fuck your feelings”.  Because civility.

There are times when you can have a reasoned discussion with people who disagree with you.  But we are talking about white supremacists and Nazi sympathizers here.  Oh, sure, maybe there are some Trump supporters who say they aren’t racist.  Maybe, but racism is definitely present in spades among Trumpers, and they are more than willing to put up with a lot of open racism in their ranks, not to mention all the racist garbage spewing from Trump himself and the White House.  And that makes them complicit, or indifferent to evil at best.

Clearly, not all journalists agree with the WaPo editors.  Charlie Pierce had some choice things to say, as did Michelle Goldberg.  She gets it.

But unless and until that happens, millions and millions of Americans watch helplessly as the president cages children, dehumanizes immigrants, spurns other democracies, guts health care protections, uses his office to enrich himself and turns public life into a deranged phantasmagoria with his incontinent flood of lies. The civility police might point out that many conservatives hated Obama just as much, but that only demonstrates the limits of content-neutral analysis. The right’s revulsion against a black president targeted by birther conspiracy theories is not the same as the left’s revulsion against a racist president who spread birther conspiracy theories.

Yes, exactly.  This is NOT a case of “both sides do it.” The right’s criticism that Hillary Clinton and other Democrats are secretly running a pedophile sex ring out of a pizza place IS NOT the same as the belief that Democrats have about President Trump using his office to enrich his family and himself, or that the Russians helped Trump get elected.  So trying to pretend that “both sides do it” is a big reason why we are in this awful place to begin with.  As screwed up as they are, the Democrats don’t hold a candle to the vicious insanity of the Republican party these days.  It’s like trying to point out that both sides are bad because one was caught jaywalking and shoplifting and the other has a basement full of human skins.  Um, no, one is WAY worse than the other, and anyone with more than a handful of brain cells to rub together should be able to see that.  I saw the writing on the wall years ago.  It’s why I left the GOP more than 20 years ago and haven’t looked back.  It’s only gotten worse since then.

So no, I am not going to be civil to these people, not as long as they continue to disregard the essential humanity of immigrants, and gays, and Muslims, and Jews, and everyone else they hate.  I will treat them with the contempt they richly deserve.  It’s far better than the treatment we can expect from them, at any rate.  A lot of them want a second Civil War, or at least a chance to use those guns they have been hoarding.  All we want is equality and justice.

~Geoff

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