Toward a Deeper Civility

 

From a President who often seems mean-spirited and petty, to angry mobs threatening their opponents with bodily harm, to smugly superior journalists and entertainers preaching their bottomless contempt to a Pavlovian audience of unthinking conformists, the observation that much of our national conversation is mired in incivility and vulgarity seems undeniable.

Whether or not this is new is debatable. Heated political exchanges are nothing new; yellow journalism and intemperate pundits are not a 21st-century phenomenon, nor even a 20th. What seems likely is that the scope of incivility has increased, upward to the President and Congress, downward to every citizen with a microphone or Twitter account. Partly this is the product of greater participation: when everyone has a voice, a lot of people with nothing useful to say will nonetheless say it loudly.

In such a heated atmosphere, it’s difficult to resist joining in, piling on. I’ve certainly fallen prey to the temptation, as much as I try to resist it. We should all make a greater effort to slow down and dial back the outrage, focus more on ideas than on individuals, spend more time trying to understand each other than scoring points with barbed comments and cheap wit. If civil society is what we want, we should try to be more broadly civil.

But there’s another aspect to civility, one less obvious than a rude tweet or a vulgar stand-up journalist comic. This is respect for alternative viewpoints — at least, for those that are not obviously far outside the bounds of humanity and decency, or wildly irrational. This is deep civility, the willingness not only to be reasonably gracious in one’s discourse but also sincerely thoughtful in one’s engagement with ideas.

This kind of deep civility is difficult for both conservatives and radicals, for those wary of change and for those enthusiastic for it. But it’s the kind of civility that will be required if we hope to become more broadly decent because the casual disrespect for ideas and beliefs is the engine that drives the rage we see.

Those on the right, who value tradition and are skeptical, wary, fearful, or otherwise resistant to change should keep in mind what they know to be true: that the old ways aren’t always the best ways. More importantly, they must not assume that those with radical ideas are bent on destruction, or that their desire to effect change is evidence of a wish to tear down the civilized world and introduce barbarism. Whatever one thinks of the virtue of the ideas they espouse, one should try to credit them with decent motives and engage them accordingly.

Those on the left, who are eager for change and confident that the change will be good, should honestly face the reality that change brings inherent risk, that unintended consequences often lead to unexpected and undesirable — and sometimes catastrophic — outcomes. More importantly, they should keep in mind that those who oppose them are not consumed by hatred and a desire to return to an ignoble past, but rather by a wish to preserve and defend what they sincerely believe is good.

I am a man of the right. As long as hatred, bigotry, and small-mindedness are the motives imputed to me because of the views I hold, I must struggle to assume the decency of those with whom I disagree. But I do believe that most people — left and right — are decent; that everyone I know personally is a decent person who wants to make the world better, and that that’s true of most people; and that the ugliness we see springs more from human frailty and imperfection than from malice.

Perhaps the most destructive word introduced into our popular lexicon is hate. It’s time to be a little more charitable in our assessment of motives so that we can discuss the worthiness of ideas rather than attacking the people who hold them.

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  1. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    One of your best, Hank. Written very well. I really don’t understand who on God’s earth could disagree with the sentiments expressed herein. While I don’t believe everyone has a pure heart, bolstered by good motives, I say that we should act as if they do, unless and until they prove otherwise.

    • #1
  2. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Henry Racette: Perhaps the most destructive word introduced into our popular lexicon is hate.

    I try to stay away from any usage of this word. I consider it unnecessary for any idea I want to express.

    I do have a question. Having observed the passage of the weeks so far under the shutdown, which side is exhibiting the greatest incivility of late?

    • #2
  3. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: Perhaps the most destructive word introduced into our popular lexicon is hate.

    I try to stay away from any usage of this word. I consider it unnecessary for any idea I want to express.

    I do have a question. Having observed the passage of the weeks so far under the shutdown, which side is exhibiting the greatest incivility of late?

    Bob, I don’t know how to answer that. I think the current impasse is largely about political positioning. The larger issue, the one that should be getting serious discussion, and that underpins this kerfuffle, is the question of stewardship of American culture, and how best to pursue that.

    But we can’t have that conversation when accusations of racism are hurled at those who wish to secure the border.

    • #3
  4. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    I have found it odd that all these critics who decry the lack of civility in the modern political discourse are also the least likely to grant it.

    • #4
  5. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    I have found it odd that all these critics who decry the lack of civility in the modern political discourse are also the least likely to grant it.

    I think there’s a widespread tendency to focus on offenses — and offensive individuals — rather than policies and the ideas that undergird them.

    • #5
  6. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    I have found it odd that all these critics who decry the lack of civility in the modern political discourse are also the least likely to grant it.

    I think there’s a widespread tendency to focus on offenses — and offensive individuals — rather than policies and the ideas that undergird them.

    I saw a saying once hanging on a plaque in a schoolyard that says something like:  “Find the most charitable explanation for someone else’s actions and then believe it.”   I’m sure I’m butchering it, because I can’t find any semblance of such a quote online.  It doesn’t hold in all cases, but I thought it apropos for our contentious times.  

    • #6
  7. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: Perhaps the most destructive word introduced into our popular lexicon is hate.

    I try to stay away from any usage of this word. I consider it unnecessary for any idea I want to express.

    I do have a question. Having observed the passage of the weeks so far under the shutdown, which side is exhibiting the greatest incivility of late?

    Bob, I don’t know how to answer that. I think the current impasse is largely about political positioning. The larger issue, the one that should be getting serious discussion, and that underpins this kerfuffle, is the question of stewardship of American culture, and how best to pursue that.

    But we can’t have that conversation when accusations of racism are hurled at those who wish to secure the border.

    Henry, I couldn’t agree more. I also believe that too much time is spent always saying that the Left attacks us more more, and more crudely, than we attack them. We know that this is true. We don’t need to constantly say it, and use it as an excuse to be rude ourselves.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Henry Racette: I am a man of the right. As long as hatred, bigotry, and small-mindedness are the motives imputed to me because of the views I hold, I must struggle to assume the decency of those with whom I disagree. But I do believe that most people — left and right — are decent; that everyone I know personally is a decent person who wants to make the world better, and that that’s true of most people; and that the ugliness we see springs more from human frailty and imperfection than from malice.

    I’m unwilling to go along fully, Hank. I know some people I would call decent on the Left. In other areas (aside from political views) they are people of values and compassion. But I judge them, too, by what they say or do. And when they espouse lies, even when they are well-intentioned, I reject their views and actions. When they are not open to diversity of ideas, but judge and attack those who don’t agree with them, I see them as compromised. There is a kind of split that happens: I am loving in this way, but I am hateful in this way. I’m not saying this is everyone on the Left. But the ones who are not that way are shut down or ignored.

    We need people who are willing to speak truth on both sides. We need people who are willing to express their views with caring and openness on both sides. They may be out there, but unless they are willing to act, I do not fully accept or respect them. If they allow themselves to misled, they are responsible for their choices.

    • #8
  9. Skarv Inactive
    Skarv
    @Skarv

    Thank you Mr. Racette. Very true and important points. Ideas over events, events over people; unfortunately most public communication priorities the other way around. If we want to change this, we need to stop rewarding bad behavior.

    • #9
  10. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    But we can’t have that conversation when accusations of racism are hurled at those who wish to secure the border.

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    I have found it odd that all these critics who decry the lack of civility in the modern political discourse are also the least likely to grant it.

    George Townsend (View Comment):
    Henry, I couldn’t agree more. I also believe that too much time is spent always saying that the Left attacks us more more, and more crudely, than we attack them. We know that this is true. We don’t need to constantly say it, and use it as an excuse to be rude ourselves.

    It is difficult to disagree with those who oppose rudeness and incivility. And I agree that to return that rudeness is a bad behavior in itself. The current news cycle is highlighting the media and Democrat politicians duplicity and pretense at valuing what we called ‘civility’ while demonstrating the smoothness of the greatest confidence game masters in the process. I personally choose to exercise great care before condemning tactics used by those with whom I agree about societal values in this existential conflict. Rarely do I actually detect ‘hate’, for example, even in the harshest responses to the Left’s accusations.

    • #10
  11. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    But we can’t have that conversation when accusations of racism are hurled at those who wish to secure the border.

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    I have found it odd that all these critics who decry the lack of civility in the modern political discourse are also the least likely to grant it.

    George Townsend (View Comment):
    Henry, I couldn’t agree more. I also believe that too much time is spent always saying that the Left attacks us more more, and more crudely, than we attack them. We know that this is true. We don’t need to constantly say it, and use it as an excuse to be rude ourselves.

    It is difficult to disagree with those who oppose rudeness and incivility. And I agree that to return that rudeness is a bad behavior in itself. The current news cycle is highlighting the media and Democrat politicians duplicity and pretense at valuing what we called ‘civility’ while demonstrating the smoothness of the greatest confidence game masters in the process. I personally choose to exercise great care before condemning tactics used by those with whom I agree about societal values in this existential conflict. Rarely do I actually detect ‘hate’, for example, even in the harshest responses to the Left’s accusations.

    Bob, please don’t mistake what I am about to write for casting aspersions on you? You are not like that. But there is a coterie of people on the right who are, let us say, less than pleasant. Mona Charen is attacked repeatedly for not liking Donald Trump; the late Senator, John McCain, was always vilified by some on the Right; I have been attacked by people who call me a Never Trumper, even as I have asked them not insult me that way. I can give many examples of this. I do not consider these people real conservatives, just mean people who cannot just turn people off with whom they have issues; they have to repeatedly attack them. This does come from both sides. I happen to believe there are more of the intolerant ones on the Left than there are on the Right. But to pretend they don’t exist on the Right is to just to bury one’s head in the sand.

     

    • #11
  12. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    George Townsend (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    But we can’t have that conversation when accusations of racism are hurled at those who wish to secure the border.

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    I have found it odd that all these critics who decry the lack of civility in the modern political discourse are also the least likely to grant it.

    George Townsend (View Comment):
    Henry, I couldn’t agree more. I also believe that too much time is spent always saying that the Left attacks us more more, and more crudely, than we attack them. We know that this is true. We don’t need to constantly say it, and use it as an excuse to be rude ourselves.

    (clip) And I agree that to return that rudeness is a bad behavior in itself. The current news cycle is highlighting the media and Democrat politicians duplicity and pretense at valuing what we called ‘civility’ while demonstrating the smoothness of the greatest confidence game masters in the process. I personally choose to exercise great care before condemning tactics used by those with whom I agree about societal values in this existential conflict. Rarely do I actually detect ‘hate’, for example, even in the harshest responses to the Left’s accusations.

    Bob, please don’t mistake what I am about to write for casting aspersions on you? You are not like that. But there is a coterie of people on the right who are, let us say, less than pleasant. Mona Charen is attacked repeatedly for not liking Donald Trump; the late Senator, John McCain, was always vilified by some on the Right; I have been attacked by people who call me a Never Trumper, even as I have asked them not insult me that way. I can give many examples of this. I do not consider these people real conservatives, just mean people who cannot just turn people off with whom they have issues; they have to repeatedly attack them. This does come from both sides. I happen to believe there are more of the intolerant ones on the Left than there are on the Right. But to pretend they don’t exist on the Right is to just to bury one’s head in the sand.

     

    I understand you, I think. You and I are not on the same page yet. Here’s where the difference might be.

    In my younger days there was a certain civility in the American political arena that I attribute to the consideration that the differences between Republicans and Democrats were generally on policy, which is as it should be. The Communist Party was not part of this because they were considered by mainstream Americans to be the enemy. The Left has moved to that place formerly occupied by those the American mainstream once considered the enemy and there is little room for civility in war. I think this is where we are today.

    • #12
  13. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    George Townsend (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    But we can’t have that conversation when accusations of racism are hurled at those who wish to secure the border.

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    I have found it odd that all these critics who decry the lack of civility in the modern political discourse are also the least likely to grant it.

    George Townsend (View Comment):
    Henry, I couldn’t agree more. I also believe that too much time is spent always saying that the Left attacks us more more, and more crudely, than we attack them. We know that this is true. We don’t need to constantly say it, and use it as an excuse to be rude ourselves.

    (

    I understand you, I think. You and I are not on the same page yet. Here’s where the difference might be.

    In my younger days there was a certain civility in the American political arena that I attribute to the consideration that the differences between Republicans and Democrats were generally on policy, which is as it should be. The Communist Party was not part of this because they were considered by mainstream Americans to be the enemy. The Left has moved to that place formerly occupied by those the American mainstream once considered the enemy and there is little room for civility in war. I think this is where we are today.

    Sounds like Dennis Prager speaking, who insists we are in a Civil War.

    Well, I don’t agree with that. I think it is crazy, and I do think that Prager is not thinking straight. If one thinks we are in a war today, what do we make of the 60s? Now, at the end of the 60s, I was not quite sixteen, and not very in touch with the issues. And, to the extent I was conversant, I was on the wrong side, as many dopey teenagers are. But I know what went on, and how the sixties laid the marker for many of the problems we have today. But we did survive the bombings, the assassinations, and all the cynicism.

    So, if the sixties were not called a war, why is today called a Civil War? Isn’t it better to try and convert people than calling them names? There are not quite as many crazies out there as Prager wants us to believe.

    • #13
  14. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    George Townsend (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    George Townsend (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    But we can’t have that conversation when accusations of racism are hurled at those who wish to secure the border.

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    I have found it odd that all these critics who decry the lack of civility in the modern political discourse are also the least likely to grant it.

    George Townsend (View Comment):
    Henry, I couldn’t agree more. I also believe that too much time is spent always saying that the Left attacks us more more, and more crudely, than we attack them. We know that this is true. We don’t need to constantly say it, and use it as an excuse to be rude ourselves.

    (

    I understand you, I think. You and I are not on the same page yet. Here’s where the difference might be.

    In my younger days there was a certain civility in the American political arena that I attribute to the consideration that the differences between Republicans and Democrats were generally on policy, which is as it should be. The Communist Party was not part of this because they were considered by mainstream Americans to be the enemy. The Left has moved to that place formerly occupied by those the American mainstream once considered the enemy and there is little room for civility in war. I think this is where we are today.

    Sounds like Dennis Prager speaking, who insists we are in a Civil War.

    Well, I don’t agree with that. I think it is crazy, and I do think that Prager is not thinking straight. If one thinks we are in a war today, what do we make of the 60s? Now, at the end of the 60s, I was not quite sixteen, and not very in touch with the issues. And, to the extent I was conversant, I was on the wrong side, as many dopey teenagers are. But I know what went on, and how the sixties laid the marker for many of the problems we have today. But we did survive the bombings, the assassinations, and all the cynicism.

    So, if the sixties were not called a war, why is today called a Civil War? Isn’t it better to try and convert people than calling them names? There are not quite as many crazies out there as Prager wants us to believe.

    Just trying to make clear how and why we differ on how and why we respond to people and events the way we do. Oh, I was active in the military from 1957 until 1968 so I had a good dose of how to be anti-communist and it has not dissipated.

    • #14
  15. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    George Townsend (View Comment):

    Sounds like Dennis Prager speaking, who insists we are in a Civil War.

     

    Not someone I get thoughts from. I’m not even sure I think of it as a civil war, but rather a war against those employing unlawful approaches to change us from a democratic representative republic with an existing Constitution that has builtin provisions for change to a country (forget we are made up of sovereign states) ruled by majority vote. That makes our current war effort pretty much the same as against the Communists.

    • #15
  16. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Henry Racette: Those on the left, who are eager for change and confident that the change will be good, should honestly face the reality that change brings inherent risk, that unintended consequences often lead to unexpected and undesirable — and sometimes catastrophic — outcomes. More importantly, they should keep in mind that those who oppose them are not consumed by hatred and a desire to return to an ignoble past, but rather by a wish to preserve and defend what they

    This is a good partial description of the reason many on the Left, who may be acting with integrity, albeit ignorance, receive the harsh reactions from those on the ‘uncivil’ Right. The leaders (not the unknowing sheep) on the Left know that President Trump understands where the real enemies are (China, North Korea and Iran, the modern fascists) so they do their very utmost to discredit him, working for open borders and other globalist efforts and taking the fact that Russia is a nuclear power to sustain Russia as the big threat because Trump doesn’t agree.

    • #16
  17. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    Sorry Guys, I understand Henry and George really want again to have a civil society where people on different sides of the political spectrum can civilly discuss issues,  but you are wildly mistaken that the civility you desire can be reclaimed by pleading for people to more civil in the ways you describe.

    One first has to ask why has this happened? Why has society become so uncivil?

    Our current incivility has come about almost solely as a purposely destructive tactic by the Progressive Left – one of many – to disrupt civil society and to destroy our most cherished civil institutions. This incivility did not come about because of social media or the latest reiteration of rudeness by adolescents; it was planned and executed to disrupt political discourse so the truth no longer mattered and to reinforce the idea of tribe and hate of the other. 

    One only needs to ask oneself why did the Left come up many decades ago  with the concept “the truth is relative”? The simple answer is if we in the classically liberal way of thinking were to  continue to seek the truth, no one in their right mind would ever believe the ideology of the Left and their need to tear things down. 

    Truth is at the root of a civil discussion and so to destroy civil discourse, the Left needed to destroy the concept of a inherit “truth”, which for many it has. 

    From there, in a similar vein to what Hilter and his goons did in Third Reich, the Left has chosen, often violently, to deem those who disagree with their destructive aims as the new “other” who should never be believed no matter what we say. Conservatives have become the equivalent of the “Third Reich Jew”, to be singled out, harassed and punished for our views.  Our good Leftists now believe it is moral to punish those “unbelievers” on the right for our immoral assault on good Progressive goals. A good Nazi would never believe a Jew so a good Leftist must now never believe a person on the Right.  That is why the Left now no longer believes in the right to free speech. Only Progressively permitted speech is to be allowed. 

    One only needs to look at the assault and the full fledged media pile on against the young Christians with MAGA hats by Indian Activist Nathan Phillips and his goons at the Capital yesterday.  The Christian children quickly were deemed the “other” and dire threats hurled at them for the simple act of showing up and not submitting to tyranny.  The media let nutcases like  Senator Warren,  Alyssa Milano and Kathy Griffin run wild with their baseless accusations against innocent children. The truth was quickly thrown out for the handy Progressive  “bigot” theme . 

    The only way to bring back civil discourse is to confront this Leftist assault on the Truth and Free Speech and  not legitimize it with the assertion that  incivility has been caused by the Right also. 

    • #17
  18. The Dowager Jojo Inactive
    The Dowager Jojo
    @TheDowagerJojo

    Interesting essay.  I think civility implies respect and requires trust.

    Claire Berlinski has a long association with Ricochet and she is an impressive and valuable person.  I contributed to her GoFundMe to write a book, because she knows lots of stuff I don’t and I like to hear what she has to say.  But during the 2016 campaign, she either posted or was quoted in a post (I forget) on Ricochet condemning Trump for the locker-room “pussy” comment and concluding Republican women could not support him.

    I was irked and said that the people getting all hysterical about it were being useful idiots in support of more dangerous forces than Trump.  To which, a gallant defender came to her rescue and said that calling people “useful idiots” showed a lack of common decency.   Which of us was uncivil?  I think it  depends which team you’re on.

    This was brought back to mind just now when I was reading a new article of Claire’s.  https://www.the-american-interest.com/2019/01/21/the-problem-with-no-name/

    She labels the “Yellow vests” in France as “useful idiots” and even uses the term as a section heading.  Huh.  She lacks common decency, just like me! 

    Do you think if I brought this to the gallant defender’s attention he would reprimand Claire or apologize to me?  Not likely.  Sometimes the cry for “civility” is just a tool of convenience. 

    • #18
  19. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

     

    Just trying to make clear how and why we differ on how and why we respond to people and events the way we do. Oh, I was active in the military from 1957 until 1968 so I had a good dose of how to be anti-communist and it has not dissipated.

     I guess you are much older than me, Bob. I was three when you got in. I’ve thanked you before; allow me to do again. 

    Also, please allow me this: As much as I disagree with the Democrats (and many, if not most, have turned far Left), they are not Communists. Communists were every bit as evil as the Nazis. If we make the mistake of thinking people like AOC are Communists (and, yes, she is a brainless fool), we risk forgetting how evil that system was, and the crimes they committed. I will never do that. I implore you to remember that if we lose our humanity because we are supposedly  fighting a non-existent war, we will have lost more than we will ever gain.

    • #19
  20. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Unsk (View Comment):
    The only way to bring back civil discourse is to confront this Leftist assault on the Truth and Free Speech and not legitimize it with the assertion that incivility has been caused by the Right also.

    I’m sorry but you suggest no solution other than tit for tat. Even if I believed every word of what you write (and it sounds a little too conspiratorial for me) your way seems to me to keep this “war” up. To keep the rhetoric spiraling down until every sense of humanity is drained away. God will have to personally tell me that you are right, before I give into such a plan. And, by the way, their are some bad people on the Right, whether you want to admit it or not. Some are glad that John McCain died. I’d rather God took me home right now than associate with such people.

    • #20
  21. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    George,

    We on the right do not need to descend  into the same kind of tactics that the Left uses.  Therefore this ‘war” need not be. However, Henry’s post unfortunately with his jab at Trump’s rudeness gave the impression that he thought both sides were to blame, whether or not that was his intention. 

    Confronting the Left’s uncivil behavior can be done in a civil way, but it should not be excused for when you excuse it as many of the Never Trumper’s do, you legitimize it and give it strength. 

    The vast, vast majority on the Left are cowardly, ill informed followers and are not part of a conspiracy, but that said they are often very afraid to concede any point to the Right for fear of being outed as some sort of right wing sympathizer.  The Left can be very vicious to those followers who stray from the one true path. However, undeniably there are those high up in the Progressive hierarchy that set the talking points for those below to follow and then more ominously there are also those in the Progressive Hierarchy  that set and  fund the agenda for violent groups like Antifa.  Surely, you would not deny there is at least a small conspiracy behind groups like Antifa?

    The solution is to be clear as to what sort of behavior is acceptable in a civil society, and to confront and stand fast against that behavior that is not acceptable. Unfortunately, many of those who complain most about society’s incivility  are not willing to confront the extreme behavior of people like Nancy Pelosi, Obama, Hillary, George Soros, Robert Mueller, James Comey  and many, many others on the Left, but are all too willing to complain about the behavior of Donald Trump and others on the Right whose behavior is no where near as uncivil. 

    Edmund Burke’s quote “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” definitely applies to this situation.  

    • #21
  22. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Unsk (View Comment):

    George,

    We on the right do not need to descend into the same kind of tactics that the Left uses. Therefore this ‘war” need not be. However, Henry’s post unfortunately with his jab at Trump’s rudeness gave the impression that he thought both sides were to blame, whether or not that was his intention.

    The solution is to be clear as to what sort of behavior is acceptable in a civil society, and to confront and stand fast against that behavior that is not acceptable. Unfortunately, many of those who complain most about society’s incivility are not willing to confront the extreme behavior of people like Nancy Pelosi, Obama, Hillary, George Soros, Robert Mueller, James Comey and many, many others on the Left, but are all too willing to complain about the behavior of Donald Trump and others on the Right whose behavior is no where near as uncivil.

    Nobody is excusing any of the Left’s behavior. I am getting and tired of people on my own side saying these kinds of idiotic things. First of all, I am not a Never Trumper.  I have said this since I am blue in the face, and yet I guess these disrespectful comments, implying that I am. This is insulting. I will not stand for it any longer; nor will I engage with people who seek to insult me – or Henry for that matter, who wrote  a wonderful post.

    Again, as I said to somebody else, you pose no solution except to get in their faces the way they do ours. Sure, our people should go on TV and say what kind of people ANTI-FA. But don’t become them. 

    And, by the way, Donald Trump is a disgusting human being. Whether you, or anybody, will admit it or not. He is the President of the United States, for God’s sake, and for him to get down in the gutter with the types of people that too many of the Left are is actually hurting our cause. Anybody with half a brain should be able to see that.

    One last thing: I do not like Comey. But to lump him with a whole bunch others, some of whom are disgusting, is not helpful at all.

    We are done here.

     

    • #22
  23. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Henry’s post unfortunately with his jab at Trump’s rudeness gave the impression that he thought both sides were to blame, whether or not that was his intention. 

    In fact, I didn’t suggest that anyone was to blame. I’m merely pointing out that there are examples of incivility left and right. I’m not interested in ascribing blame, but rather in talking about what has to change if we are to improve the quality of discourse and, with it, the quality of the results (policies, culture) we get.

    I’ve written several times about “civility,” by which I typically meant the standards of politeness, fairness, and graciousness the absence of which was the subject of my first paragraph. But the point of this post is something deeper (hence, Deeper Civility), the idea that being civil doesn’t simply mean not insulting your opponent, not impugning his character because you don’t like his ideas, not shouting him down and threatening him with violence, not using ugly nicknames instead of more respectful forms of address. Those are all good things, but they aren’t the point of the post.

    The point of the post is that those things represent the bare minimum of civility. Real civility includes actually listening to the opposition, trying to understand their arguments and perspectives, and engaging them in a way they in turn understand.

    So to say that

    Unsk (View Comment):
    The vast, vast majority on the Left are cowardly, ill informed followers

    is to make an assertion that I think is invalid, and that constitutes the kind of incivility I’m talking about. I know quite a few people who consider themselves to be on the left, and they seem no more cowardly or ill-informed than anyone else I know. I think they’re mistaken, but I don’t think they know less about important things than my friends on the right Often, in fact, I think they know more; often they seem to care more, as well. That doesn’t mean they’re correct: conservatives have a natural advantage, quite apart from intelligence or information or passion. We have the advantage of wanting to preserve what has been tried and tested. That doesn’t make us smarter, merely more often right.

    Unsk (View Comment):
    The only way to bring back civil discourse is to confront this Leftist assault on the Truth and Free Speech and not legitimize it with the assertion that incivility has been caused by the Right also. 

    I agree that the best way to deal with incivility is to be civil, and to try to draw others into civil engagement as well. Again, you’ll note that I haven’t suggested that “incivility has been caused by the Right.” I will, however, observe that incivility is practiced on both the left and the right. That’s one of those truths we should acknowledge. (And using President Trump, for whom I voted and for whom I intend to vote again, as an example of occasional incivility is, again, a simple truth, and not something from which we should recoil.)

    For what it’s worth, I think the right is far more civil than the left in superficial ways, in basic matters of law and etiquette. That makes sense: these are traditional norms the right tends to embrace. I think the left, with its intrinsic willingness to try new things and push boundaries, is likely to be less civil in the relatively trivial ways we on the right routinely encounter and condemn.

    But both sides should get better at the deeper civility of confronting ideas, rather than individuals or groups.

    • #23
  24. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Just saw Congressman Jeffries of Brooklyn, NY saying we have a ‘hater’, the Grand Wizard, in the White House.

    • #24
  25. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Just saw Congressman Jeffries of Brooklyn, NY saying we have a ‘hater’, the Grand Wizard, in the White House.

    I think normal people weary of the drama, anger, vitriol, and contempt. People who talk like that don’t deserve our attention, positive or negative.

    • #25
  26. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Just saw Congressman Jeffries of Brooklyn, NY saying we have a ‘hater’, the Grand Wizard, in the White House.

    This is nothing new. We have had this kind of ridiculous, hate-filled rhetoric from these far Leftists since 2017. I have never thought that, and no thinking conservative does. Did you ever stop to think that the more we on the Right rise to this kind of baiting the sillier it makes us look? And, the more the Right keeps defending everything this man does, the easier it makes it for the Left to characterize  us all as blind followers of a less-than-thoughtful individual, instead of a cause most of us still think worthwhile?

    • #26
  27. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    George,

    I did not support Trump until the waning weeks of the campaign in 2016. That said Hillary and Obama are significantly far more disgusting than Trump without question. 

    There is now with the Ohr Testimony an open and shut case against Mueller and everyone behind the many scandals he is covering up.   The Mueller probe is really not about Trump; it is about protecting the people responsible for the many scandals under Obama.  If Mueller and his goons are not brought to justice  you can just about kiss public civility good bye. 

    To talk about civility without recognizing the need to seek the truth and to protect the rule of law is hypocritical to the max.

    Henry,

    Since I am a community leader and have been for many, many years I know many, many Democrats. I have yet to find one that doesn’t believe Mueller, or knows much anything about Quantitative Easing or Tightening or much of what else is going on in the world.  Almost all will listen to only  approved Democrat media so  one could easily say yes they are grossly misinformed which they are.

    Since I live in California, and since the Democrats have effectively controlled the State for nearly all of the last 44 years , particularly the last 30, the Democrats have made a total mess of the state refusing to improve our infrastructure to any significant degree and have effectively outlawed most industrial blue collar jobs and single family tract housing causing horrific suffering, homelessness and the poverty rate to skyrocket, even though my state is home to both the center of the Tech Industry and the Entertainment Industry.   These oh so compassionate Progressives have decimated the young, the poor and the minority populations, while also dragging down the State’s economy, but hardly any Democrat I know will dare to buck the Democrat establishment  and tell it like it is, so yes  a great many of them are cowards for they have allowed the Progressives to run roughshod over the State with nary a peep.  

    • #27
  28. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Unsk (View Comment):

     

    I really resent that you can’t leave this alone. We disagree. You can’t stand that. I don’t know if real conservatives agree with me more than with you or not, and I don’t care. I believe Trump is ruining our movement. He is unprincipled and only out for him. And for you say that Obama is more disgusting than Trump is itself disgusting. You say that because you agree with Trump’s policies. So do I. But I recognizing character and lack of same when I see it. Life is about more than policy. When I go to Heaven (and I pray I am headed there), God is gonna want to know how I treated my neighbor, not whether I supported tax cuts, or the right judge. I also object to the way you use the word “hypocrisy”. It is wrong. I am no hypocrite. I see you enjoy insulting people. Please leave me out?

    And another thing: California is not representative of the nation. Many of them are foolish Leftists , who’d rather catch the next wave than think seriously about the future of the nation. You are far too parochial. 

    • #28
  29. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Unsk (View Comment):
    To talk about civility without recognizing the need to seek the truth and to protect the rule of law is hypocritical to the max.

    Yes, I agree with that. A big part of civility is respecting the law.

    Unsk (View Comment):
    I know many, many Democrats. I have yet to find one that doesn’t believe Mueller, or knows much anything about Quantitative Easing or Tightening or much of what else is going on in the world.

    I suspect the same is largely true of Republicans. Most of us are too busy living our lives to be good policy wonks.

    The way to fix this, I believe, is to treat others as sincere, reasonably intelligent individuals, and to discuss the facts and ideas underlying your and their respective views, both to communicate your own and to better understand theirs.

    That’s the point of the post.

    • #29
  30. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    The way to fix this, I believe, is to treat others as sincere, reasonably intelligent individuals, and to discuss the facts and ideas underlying your and their respective views, both to communicate your own and to better understand theirs.

    The difficulty with this argument is that they may be sincere and intelligent, but they are often naive and uninterested in genuinely sharing ideas. Finding people who actually want to have an exchange of ideas and are even receptive to new information (or information at all) is very difficult. Intelligence doesn’t necessarily include curiosity or a desire for truth. I’ve pretty much kept to myself.

     

    • #30

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