The Civility Debate:
MAYBE IT'S LESS ABOUT TRUMP,THAN WHAT WE'LL SEE IN THE MIRROR
"CAT," I ASKED, “What do you think of the ‘civility’ debate that the liberals are having?”
“How about you just leave me the #!%^& alone! It’s 88 freakin’ degrees in the shade, Dog-breath. Scram.”
Cat was camped out on the back deck, underneath a table with two flower pots that the Nice One had put out. By now, the shade line had moved far enough so that the entire deck was engulfed in shadow. But I think Cat believed if he spread out under the table, he would get double the shade effect. Brilliant”
“I was just wondering what you thought about whether Democrats should be treating Republicans with at least some manners,” I said.
“Somebody, save me from this flea-magnet,” Cat yowled. "Anybody? Call 911. Get someone from the NRA over here right now and see what a Good Guy with a Gun can do to stop a Dog Without a Brain. Easy target, guaranteed.”
Cat by now was wheezing and gasping in the humid, hot air.
Probably not a good time, I thought to myself.
Manners, Phoebe, where are my manners? Poor Cat. He didn’t ask for hot weather, much less, a hot topic. Not nice to be mulling the finer points of political etiquette in the middle of the Great Heat Wave of 2018. What was I thinking?
“So a couple of days ago, the Nice One and the Grouchy One took me along to a demonstration at the State House…,” I began. But Cat cut me short.
“How brave and wonderful,” Cat sneered. “Another demonstration. And another great week for Trump: a slew of Supreme Court decisions guaranteed to send Lefties racing to their therapists’ couches. Plus, Anthony Kennedy, the court’s most insincere moderate, timed his exit to hand Trump a chance to replace him with another Neanderthal.”
“And a very effective one,” Cat yawned.
“There was a guy,” I said, “with a poster of Trump as a pig, dressed as a king. The guy said it was based on a painting by an accomplished local artist. The guy himself was wearing tee-shirt with this slogan: ‘Cerdo Racista’ that means ‘racist pig.’ “
“The kind of thing you’d expect to see at a rally,” Cat said.
“Geeze, this is beginning to sound like another Sunday sermon from Pathetic Pastor Phoebe," Cat said, as he leaped to his feet, despite the temperature and humidity, and hurried into the house, mumbling something about “Goodie-Four-Paws, self-righteous little snotty smug-mutt….”
I’m not sure about the “little” part, since I weigh 56 pounds, compared to Cat’s 17, but it’s really hard to have a civil discussion with someone who's not even there.
I WAS DISAPPOINTED, because I’ve been thinking about this civility thing since 15 Democratic Socialists ambushed Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of Homeland Security, last month in a Washington, DC restaurant and videotaped themselves harassing her about how she’s helping Trump separate immigrant children from their parents when they cross the Mexican-American border and chanting "Shame. Shame" and so forth.
(Nielsen, if you can follow the symbolism, had the gall to be eating at a Mexican restaurant).
Which prompted timid-as-ever Democratic Party leaders to chastise Waters’ approach, saying it could backfire by making Trumpites seem like victims, meaning that the entire midterm elections are now imperiled.
Which prompted pundits and experts to come up with all sorts of op-ed arguments that boil down to this point: If Good Guys Are the Rude Guys It's OK, because the future of the Free World is at stake, and being nice to Trumpites hasn’t really worked, has it?
Also, what would you do if Hitler walked into your restaurant?
“Pee in his soup?” Cat called out from inside the house. I guess he’d been listening all along while I was thinking out loud about civility. I went on, just talking to myself.
What makes me uncomfortable about this restaurant stuff is that part of the civil rights movement in the '60s was about ending discrimination in public places. If you are in business to serve the public, you serve customers regardless of their race. I'm thinking that we don't want to encourage a new sort of segregation, based on politics: Red Only, Blue Only and No Opinion Only restaurants.
CAT INTERRUPTED my civility musings again: “So, Meathead, you just want us to be polite while the low vote-getter destroys America?”
“Well, Cat,” I said, "if you really want to discuss it, there's other ways of going about all of this."
"Turns out, a couple of days ago, Planet Destroyer Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, was eating in a Washington restaurant.”
"A school teacher was there, too, along with her husband , their 2-year-old son and some others, and when they realized Pruitt was nearby, the teacher couldn’t help herself. She jotted down a couple of talking points on a scrap of paper, snatched up the kid and marched over to Pruitt, who was not only so oblivious to eat in public during these Troubled Times, but apparently was under the impression that two of his fans had just stopped by.”
"The teacher, Kristin Mink, had something else in mind:
'I just wanted to urge you to resign for what you are doing to the environment in our country,' she said, adding that her kid likes clean water, clean air and animals. Then she left Pruitt and a fellow diner to chew on all of that."
“I thought you wanted us to treat the Trump crowd politely,” Cat said.
“I do,” I said. “I thought Ms. Mink did it just right. She didn’t chase him out of the restaurant, ruin his meal or make a fuss. She just had a polite word or two with an environmental outlaw and left him to enjoy the rest of his lunch.”
“If the Trumpite wanted to say something stupid, it's fine by me,” I said. “Just as long as he didn’t chase them out, spoil the evening or treat them disrespectfully. It's a matter of style.”
Cat still seemed skeptical.
“Let me put it this way,” I said. “There are lots of ways to go about fighting Trump and his cultists, and no matter what we do, including using end-justifies-the-means tactics, the outcome isn’t guaranteed. But what will matter in the end is what we will become."
“Will we become ill-mannered, lying, lawless, racist, women-abusing, child-hating bullies, bent on turning America into an evil dictatorship and transforming Earth into a Martian desert?"
“Or will we look into a mirror and like what we see?'
“Will the face in the mirror be a sadist, with weird hair?
"Or a handsome, all-American alley cat?”
“Will it be a Sweet Dog?
"Or a monster?”