“Many calls for civility are simply calls for unilateral disarmament from those protesting injustices and abuses of power.” –-Josh Marshall @ TPM
There’s rampant pearl-clutching and whataboutism in punditland currently, stemming from incidents where public officials have been rebuked by private citizens.
Engaging in that particular debate is a waste of time. We’re past that point in our national discourse.
Our fearless leader is openly proposing ending the rule of law. For asylum seekers. (For now) No judges, no juries. Just some guys with badges administering ‘justice’ to people regularly characterized as less than human who have fled injustice at great personal cost.
Here’s the Union-Tribune’s mention of the weekend twitter tantrum coming out of Washington DC:
“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” he wrote. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came.”
Despite Trump’s language about invasion, the flow of people crossing the border illegally remains low compared with just a few years ago, although numbers are higher than they were last spring, in the months just after Trump took office.
Hiring manythousands of judges, and going through a long and complicated legal process, is not the way to go – will always be disfunctional. People must simply be stopped at the Border and told they cannot come into the U.S. illegally. Children brought back to their country……
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
Basic protections enshrined in the Constitution for all people are under attack by officials who claim to be protecting us from enemies existing primarily in their imaginations. When the administration cannot find bureaucratic means for implementing their insidious ideas and practices, they’re just ignoring the law and convention.
Whether we can remain silent on immigration, healthcare, the environment, and dozens of other issues where the needs of the many are being sublimated for the benefit of a few is no longer an idle question.
To everyone who has tweeted back, “Not me, I can PROVE I’m a citizen” — you miss the point. Without due process, who will you “prove” it to? Where will you show your proof? A right to a hearing / judicial review protects ALL of us. https://t.co/6vfJckx4Uu
— Ronald Klain (@RonaldKlain) June 24, 2018
German officials heckled out of restaurant by rowdy mob pic.twitter.com/wTNUOdcykF
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) June 24, 2018
White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders, used her government-owned social media account to complain about being politely and quietly refused service in a Lexington, Virginia restaurant. Back in normal times, she would have been disciplined for that action.
The President of the United States (who restaurants are notorious for failing health inspections) used his platform to make false claims about the restaurant (which has high scores on its health inspections):
The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
Needless to say, the owners of the business are on the receiving end of death threats and online abuse. An unaffiliated restaurant with the same name in Washington DC is also getting threats.
Meanwhile, Sarah Sanders’ father is using stock photo art taken from a white nationalist web site to denigrate Nancy Pelosi and Democrats:
I like Josh Marshall’s point of view at Talking Points Memo, where he says “ As a society the line we should guard is opposition to violence, physical intimidation and menace as tools of civic life.”
When it comes to protests, mean words, civil disobedience, boycotts, public shunning, we may disagree when one or other is wise or called for. But these are entirely legitimate tools of political action, civic action. Many calls for civility are simply calls for unilateral disarmament from those protesting injustices and abuses of power.
I confess I flinch a bit when I see people shouted down in restaurants. That’s mostly characterological — a matter both of individual temperament as well as a sense of what are effective strategies and tactics. But mainly that doesn’t matter: I may think one thing and you think another. That’s fine.
One might further note that it is simply too comical to be lectured about social decorum by a party whose members shouted “You lie” at a President during a State of the Union address and made Donald Trump their party leader. But even that is really beside the point. What does matter is where we draw the lines of what’s legitimate and what’s not. Most of the civility talk isn’t about any real red line, any boundary that is critical to the kind of free society we want to preserve and build. It’s more a wet blanket meant to tsk tsk legitimate protest and legitimate resistance to corrupt government, misrule and injustice.
Good manners are nearly always a worthy practice. Polite beats rude 99% of the time in human interactions. These are, however, exceptional times. We just need to make sure we don’t cut off our noses to spite our faces. I don’t care what some sleazy talking head in mainstream media thinks, I do care about making sure we’re being tactically smart.
The question of our local elected officials’ relationships with the corporate entities charged with the day-to-day administration of confinement of Trump’s enemies (who happen to be brown, mostly) has risen to the top of many activists concerns recently.
Political donations from Core Civic (Which owns the Otay Mesa detention center) and related groups (we shouldn’t overlook the employee associations for prison guards) have long been a reliable source for campaign finance in California. I’m not sure if I know of any currently serving state legislators who haven’t taken their money. (We’ll find out soon.)
Congressman Juan Vargas caught grief at Saturday’s Keep Families Together rally because he accepted money connected with private prison corporations. He denied it.
Activist Mark Lane was there with his cellphone in hand to prove the donation existed. It was an uncomfortable moment. Good. And to those party leaders giving him grief, tough sh*t. Deal with it and clean house.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez turned lemons into lemonade by giving the money from questionable past contributions to groups advocating for immigrants rights and those seeking to comfort them.
She explained her actions on Facebook:
I just want to note, as far as I am concerned: it is far more important to judge people on the positions they take, votes they cast, causes they pursue, fights they wage than their campaign contributions. I have always said while there are a lot of industries I don’t solicit money from, I find it odd to say I won’t take X or Ys money. All corporate money and a lot of personal money can be traced to bad things. I don’t look at my campaign contributions (I get a list of individuals and send thank yous but corporate money just gets processed by my Treasurer) …. I think it’s odd to look. Why would it matter?
What matters is how I vote, who I stand shoulder to shoulder with, and what I fight for, unapologetically. I will not give back gross money to the morally bankrupt companies that send it to me. Instead I will use it to do good. I’ve donated thousands of dollars to nonprofits doing solid progressive work, been able to support other progressive candidates for the legislature and other offices. I think that’s the ultimate justice.
So yes, I was shocked to learn the Core Civic sent me money (on multiple occasions) from Reader stories… you see, I have co-authored multiple bills against the private prison industry. One to ban them outright, another to regulate them, still another to tax their profits. I have spoken out against their practices (especially in states that don’t have the same wage and hour and inmate protections we have) and protested them. My thought is if they’re dumb enough to send it (without solicitation) I will feel ok using their own money against them.
At the same time, I’ll continue to fight for clean elections and campaign finance reform. If you don’t like my record on any of these issues, by all means let me know. But simply yelling about contributions when we should be yelling about the policy seems misguided to me.
ALL our local reps need to understand they can not take an honest stand on the immigration issue if they are tainted with these donations.
Having offered these public servants–and they do work for us!–the opportunity to do the right thing, we should move forward together as allies (as best we can).
On the other hand, those who cannot or will not disentangle themselves should suffer the consequence, come election time. In my mind, this sentiment also applies to insisting on elected officials backing candidates with a progressive agenda. Vargas can’t lie about his backing for Summer Stephan and Bill Gore in the recent primary election.
I’m going to end today’s column with a quote from Indivisible activist Hami Ramani on Facebook:
As long as the culture of our politics and society continue to praise unrelenting individualism and unfettered capitalism, it matters not whether a jackass or an elephant rules the jungle. When will we make a change that matters?
The restaurant owner of the Red Hen – who recently asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave her restaurant – put it well: “…there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions. This appeared to be one.” This is our moment. Will we live our convictions?
This isn’t my final word on the subject.
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
You can now get the Weekly Progressive Calendar delivered to your inbox every Friday. And it’s Free! Subscribe and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
Subscriptions to the Starting Line (Monday-Friday) are available:
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.