Over the past week, talk of being “civil” exploded after Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a Red Hen restaurant in Virginia and Rep. Maxine Waters told her constituents in Los Angeles to “harass” other officials in Trump’s cabinet. These events follow a month that included the controversy that arose after Samantha Bee called Ivanka Trump a naughty word, Roseanne Barr created a new controversy over Twitter, and a controversy brewed over Michelle Wolf’s set at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. (I talked about the latter in May.)
I must say that the responses to all of these events have been interesting, to say the least, but the ongoing discussion of civility has revealed a whole host of double standards. As a result, we are just now questioning the purpose of and the agendas behind the push for civility. Thus, it is time to talk about when we need to be civil and why civility alone means very little, especially when it is one-sided.
What’s Going on with Roseanne Barr?
On the morning of May 29, 2018, Roseanne Barr made the stupid decision to compare Valerie Jarrett, a former aide to President Barack Obama, to an ape. In a tweet that she later deleted, Barr wrote: “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” After deleting that tweet, Roseanne tweeted an apology to Jarret. She also later claimed that she was under the influence of Ambien. The damage was already done.
Truth be told, this was not the first time Roseanne courted controversy. Reportedly, ABC executives were on edge with Roseanne, despite the success of her self-titled show’s reboot this spring. Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Barr had made a series of pro-Trump tweets and her character on the show was a Trump supporter.
Barr also made a series of questionable tweets about other people, including Chelsea Clinton. In two tweets, Roseanne tied the former First Daughter to George Soros, a wealthy Democratic benefactor. When Clinton tweeted back to correct Roseanne (saying that Clinton was not married to one Soros’ nephews), Roseanne gave what felt like a sarcastic apology, then when on to imply that Soros sold out (other) Jewish people in Nazi Germany.
Roseanne has been known to post strange messages on social media. One tweet she made was about a conspiracy theory about a child trafficking ring; she gave credit to Trump for putting a stop to it. Years before, Roseanne took a picture in which she was dressed up to look like Adolf Hitler.
Despite Roseanne’s earlier behavior, ABC decided to reboot her show — and renew it for another season. The first episode of the reboot generated over 35 million views and the second episode generated about 18 million, making it a huge success. However, it was only a matter of time before the other shoe dropped.
The same day as Barr made the tweet about Jarrett, Wanda Sykes announced she would not longer work on the show. And ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey (a black woman, BTW) announced that her network was canceling Roseanne. Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger tweeted his support for Dungey’s decision.
ABC later announced that is was creating a spinoff starring Sara Gilbert.
Did Samantha Bee Go Overboard When She Talked About Ivanka Trump?
In late May, Samantha Bee talked about Donald Trump’s immigration policies on her TBS show, Full Frontal. That month, the Justice Department announced that it was going to deliberately separate migrant children from their parents as part of a hardline anti-immigrant policy. The decision was met with derision and people started to take a closer look at how migrant children were treated.
During her segment, Bee took Ivanka Trump, the president’s elder daughter, to task, for not doing enough to reign in her father. (Ivanka is a special advisor to her father, but she doesn’t receive payment from the position due to nepotism laws.) Ultimately, Bee called Ivanka a “feckless c*nt.” That drew groans and applause from the crowd, but it got a lot of play with right-wingers and Bee was later compelled to apologize.
What Happened to Sarah Huckabee Sanders?
Last week, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and 7 others were dining at the Red Hen restaurant at the intersection of East Washington and South Randolph Streets in Lexington, Virginia. On Saturday, June 23, 2018, the White House press secretary tweeted that she was asked to leave the restaurant because of political reasons.
When asked about the incident, Stephanie Wilkerson confirmed that she asked Huckabee Sanders to leave and made these points:
- Wilkerson was not at the restaurant when Sanders and her party arrived, but the co-owner was called by her chef.
- When Wilkerson arrived at the restaurant, she held an impromptu meeting with her staff, who expressed discomfort with the press secretary being there. Some staff members are gay, and they opposed Trump’s policy of scaling back protections for transgender members of the military.
- Wilkerson asked her staff what they wanted her to do and the consensus was to ask Huckabee Sanders to leave.
- Wilkerson made sure that Huckabee Sanders and her party was served (their appetizers and main course) before asking the press secretary to leave.
- The owner pulled the press secretary to the side and politely asked her to leave. Wilkerson said the decision was made based on Trump’s policies and Sanders’ role defending them.
- Wilkerson comped the meal.
Huckabee Sanders’ experience followed a similar experience by the Department of Homeland Security Secretary. Shortly before Huckabee Sanders’ Red Hen experience, Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to leave a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C. after protestors from a local Democratic Socialists of America chapter heckled her over Trump’s immigration policies.
What Did ‘Auntie’ Maxine Say in L.A.?
While talking to a crowd of her constituents in Los Angeles, Congresswoman Maxine Waters said that it was the job of the people to make Trump administrations officials uncomfortable in order to protest Trump’s horrible immigration policies.
Of course, Rep. Waters was telling people to use their First Amendment rights to protest. Yes, they will make Trump officials and other politicians uncomfortable, but that’s the point.
How Have People Responded to These Events?
Predictably, many people on the right cried foul when their horses in this race were sent to the glue factory and when the lefties said things that “offended” them.
Twitter exploded with responses from viewers, observers, and other TV personalities alike.
Some, like Morning Joe’s Joe Scarborough, called Roseanne to task and demanded that ABC do something about Roseanne’s behavior.
Roseanne co-star and executive producer Sara Gilbert also felt the need to call out her TV mom’s behavior.
In Roseanne’s defense, a bunch of supporters, namely right-wingers, cried foul. At some point, there was a push to cancel Real Time with Bill Maher, particularly on the grounds that Maher compared Donald Trump to an orangutan — years prior. Of course, Maher went on his show the following week and savaged that idiocy. Also, lefties who didn’t particularly like Bill Maher made fun of Roseanne and her supporters.
When Samantha Bee made her comments, the predictable response was to tie her to all lefties and paint all as vulgar. There were also calls to cancel Samantha Bee’s show, which was also met by derision by lefties.
In addition, Jon Stewart (the former host of The Daily Show) came to Bee’s defense while he was at the Clusterfest comedy festival early in June. During a Q&A session, he said there was no need for Bee to apologize because the right doesn’t really care about the C-word. He also the right was just playing the same game over and over again, in which they break the rules they make but call out lefties for breaking the same rules.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders
When Huckabee Sanders made her tweet (from her official Twitter account), a multitude of Twitter users, including the press secretary’s father (former Alabama Gov. Mike Huckabee), came to her defense. Also, tons of Trump and Huckabee Sanders supporters left messages on Yelp and gave the restaurant bad reviews. Yelp had to take down many of the positive and negative reviews (supporters of the restaurant tried to counteract the negativity).
Some right-wingers took it a step further and felt the need to go after other restaurants (and a publisher; read that thread) because those businesses also had “Red Hen” in their name.
A Red Hen in New Jersey had to tell people that it was in no way affiliated with the Virginia Restaurant after receiving negative Facebook messages.
A D.C. Red Hen had to respond because people there were receiving threatening and other negative calls.
Of course, the Lexington Red Hen received its own threats. Also, one idiot threw chicken dung at the building.
As a counter response, people have been comparing what happened with the press Secretary to recent events, including the Supreme Court’s decision involving the Colorado Baker who refused service to a gay couple. As many people have pointed out, Huckabee Sanders wasn’t discriminated against. The gay couple faced discriminated against since the baker refused to serve them because they were gay.
(BTW, in 2012, a baker refused to let then-Vice President Joe Biden. He shot to fame for his decision, which was based on politics.)
Additionally, there were some people who rightly pointed out that Sanders was in violation of the law. Sanders used her official Twitter account to call out a business for retaliation.
On top of that, Huckabee Sanders is a bold-faced liar.
Shortly after “Auntie” Maxine made her comments, the hashtag #civility exploded on Twitter and right-wingers insisted that Waters was calling for people to physically harass conservatives. Trump called her “low IQ” (like he’s one to talk) and others made fun of her for her appearance (but don’t call them misogynist or racist, tho). There were also calls in Congress for Waters to be censured and asked to resign.
Waters wasn’t exactly helped by her Democratic Colleagues, because Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer admonished her on the Senate floor and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made a tweet in which she gently admonished her.
That’s a load of crap. It’s also a shame because they have since ignored what right-wingers did to those Red Hen restaurants. Also, Auntie Maxine has been a better resister than these two:
She reclaimed her time, called Trump out on his crap, but these fools are meekly asking for a few seconds.
Thanks, Pelosi and Schumer. That’s why your party loses.
What Is Behind the Push for Civility?
As the guys behind the Citations Needed podcast pointed out earlier this month, this civility fetish is based on a lie. It is often one-sided, used by the powerful to silence dissent.
Politically speaking, civility has been used by conservatives to trip up liberals and progressives. Basically, right-wingers want to treat people like crap but have those people lick their bootays. (Their butts get very dry, I guess.) They can dish it out, but they can’t take it — then they have the nerve to say that they’re morally superior.
Also, what has civility brought to the left? We lost the presidency, over 1,000 seats across the country, and a seat on the Supreme Court was stolen. This whole time, people like Barack Obama were played and disrespected while the Republicans cheated and disregarded their own rules. They slap us, but they don’t want to get slapped back.
Screw that. I feel no sympathy toward people who refuse to sympathize with me and hate me because of my gender, my skin color, and my political views. I don’t want to “play fair” when the people playing the game can disregard the rules whenever they feel like it. I’m done with that.
Now, the same conservatives and centrists who admonished the left are trying to use it to shame Trump, to no avail. Clearly, that ship has sailed. Trump is indecent, and he isn’t even civil.
Trump is the guy who called for hecklers at his rallies to be met with violence.
Trump is the guy who said it was alright to kiss women without their permission and touch them in their private parts.
Trump is the guy who said we should “take out their families” when dealing with suspected terrorists. He also said that he would bring back torture even if it doesn’t work. He later named Mike Pompeo as his Secretary of State and “Bloody” Gina Haspel as the director of the CIA.
Trump is the guy who increased drone bombing by 432% and called for a military operation in Yemen that killed over 10 civilians, including an 8-year-old American citizen. Trump would later ask he military advisors why they would wait to make another strike when those advisors said they wanted to be cautious to avoid civilian casualties.
Trump is the guy who supports separating children from their families. In fact, he is serving as a rubber stamp for the Republican Party’s extremist agenda, which includes giving rich people and corporations unneeded tax cuts. At the same time, they are increasing the military budget and paying for it by destroying the social safety net, which includes Medicare, Medicaid, Meals on Wheels, AIDS testing, and Social Security.
If you are a senior citizen, Trump is hurting you.
If you are part of the working class, he’s hurting you.
If you are poor, he’s hurting you.
If you are an asylum seeker, a migrant, or a minority, he’s hurting you.
If you are gay or transgender, he’s hurting you.
If you are a black or brown person in the Middle East or Africa, he’s hurting you.
Why should we play nice with a guy that is committed acts of violence against so many? Give me a break.
Another Reason Why the Civility Fetish Is Incredibly Stupid
The push for civility is stupid because it isn’t really about fairness, let alone morality. Why focus so much on civility, when we have its oft-derided but better cousin, decency? Decency is about fairness and morals, and we’re severely lacking in it. If we were more decent as a society we would never really have to worry about civility because everyone in this country and around the world would be better off.
When we push for civility, we are saying that it’s fine to do horrible things to each other while we admonish people for calling out our bad behavior.
- It’s ridiculous that we can’t call each other buttheads, racists, or murderers, but we feel comfortable being buttheads, racists, and murderers.
- We’re not “allowed” to talk about how we blow off the limbs of men, women, or children, but we must support wars that lead to men, women, and children losing their limbs, if not their lives.
- We’re supposed to “support the troops,” but we cannot question whether they’re being sent to wars of aggression, let along talk about how our veterans are mistreated when they come back.
- We can support repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia, but we cannot talk about how Saudi Arabia is oppressive.
- We can’t talk about bad cops, but it’s alright for cops to abuse their power.
- We can’t talk about torture, but it’s alright for the CIA to practice it.
- The press can constantly lie to us and manufacture consent for wars, but we are not allowed to say so.
- Billionaires become billionaires by exploiting the masses, but we are not allowed to talk about class or money.
That’s just silly on the surface, but dangerous in practice.
For the Record …
We didn’t advance as a society by asking nicely.
Suffragists took to the streets and demanded they be given the right to vote.
Black protestors took to the streets during the Civil Rights Movement and demanded they be afforded the same rights as white Americans.
Labor unions and radicals have always taken to the streets to fight for higher wages and benefits.
People blocked airports to get Trump to back down a little on his Muslim ban.
And now, people are taking Trump and his cabinet to task for their draconian immigration policies.
We will not get what we want by just asking for things. Sometimes, we take down a monolith by demanding change. That’s the purpose of protest. It’s not supposed to make the powerful comfortable. Authorities are supposed to be made uncomfortable until they make concessions and realize that doing so is more prudent and beneficial.
Should We Be ‘Civil’?
Sure, we should be civil when we’re talking to each other, but civility alone is completely empty if there is no decency, mutual respect, and consideration. Frankly, I am sick and tired of liberals and progressives being told to play nice with conservatives when the reverse isn’t true.
As a wise woman once said:
That’s right. Fuck civility if we’re not treated in kind because that’s bullshit.
Yeah, I just cursed. If you don’t like it, too bad. I also think the charge against cursing is bullshit because it’s a tactic used by people who can’t otherwise counter another person’s points.
That’s one good thing that has happened because of Trump: He finally exposed the push for civility for the fraud that it is.
It’s time for lefties to take the gloves off. If conservatives don’t like it, this is the precedent they set. We need to challenge their fallacious arguments, gamesmanship, and horrible policies whenever we can and if people don’t like it, they need stop their bullshit.
If you want to act like a 6-year-old, I will gladly treat you like one. If you want that to stop, grow the fuck up. Welcome to adulthood and stop living in your own little bubble. Don’t look to me for sympathy and don’t look to me to make you feel good.
Finally, if this post hurt your feelings, don’t even try to blow up this comment section with some disrespectful tripe because I don’t have the patience for it. If you want me to be nice to you, treat me the way you want to be treated. Okay, pumpkin?
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