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The Loss of Civility

by Rich Nelson

 Somewhere along the way, we have lost sight of the basic principles of respect, decency and civility – and how we approach interactions with each other, particularly when differences of opinion are debated. So refreshing, then, was the tone struck during the service for former First Lady Barbara Bush.  There was an elegance permeating the gathering to honor the legacy of Mrs. Bush, with those in attendance sharing a dignified presence deserving of the occasion.
 

In contrast are the ill-natured and constant reminders that we have a president who shows little regard for others.  An April 22nd tweet reminded us of his persistent and charged critiques, this time, once again, against the free press.  He tweeted, “Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Fake News NBC stated that we have given up so much in our negotiations with North Korea, and they have given up nothing.”  There was suggestion that the tweet may have anti-semitic implications, as the term “sleepy eyes” was a Nazi term to identify Jews.  Todd is Jewish, and Trump has used this term to describe him on different occasions.  Others suggested that it was instead just another schoolyard insult.  Either way, it was classless.          


Vital policy issues should not be sidetracked by inflamed and vengeful personal assaults.  Reflecting back a few years, many of the policy decisions made during the George W. Bush administration were disastrous.  An ill-advised decision, in the aftermath of 9/11, to invade Iraq, the justification of which was built on lies and miscalculations, proved immensely costly and has culminated in an unstable Middle East.  The fiscal policies set forth by the Bush 43 presidency led this country into an economic quagmire not seen since the Great Depression.  However, despite such policy failures, there was not an overt attempt by Bush to demonize others on a personal level.  As an example, in the immediate days following 9/11, there were numerous threats directed at Muslim citizens in this country.  President Bush countered this by stating in an address to Congress on September 20, “I want to speak directly to Muslims throughout the world.  We respect your faith.  The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends.  It is not our many Arab friends.”  In contrast, here is Donald Trump on December 7, 2015: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”


At a 2008 town hall meeting during the Presidential campaign, Republican candidate John McCain fielded a comment from a woman who said, “I can’t trust Obama.  I have read about him.  He’s an Arab.”  McCain pulled the microphone away from her, saying “No ma’am.  He’s a decent family man and citizen that I just have disagreements with on fundamental issues.”  Does anyone believe Trump would have the moral fortitude to rebuke a similar bogus and racist accusation?  Here is a man who led the “birther” movement, with accusations that President Obama was not a legitimate U.S. citizen.  Obama handled this, as he did with other unfounded charges during


his presidency, with grace and civility.


And shame, Examiner columnist Tammy Derouin, for your many undocumented attacks on Obama, just last week stating “The former president and his administration engaged in tactics to divide and conquer our land of freedom.  An individual who could have used his position and office to create greater harmony, chose instead to cause chaos.  He created much more distrust and bitter hatred among the American people.”  What, exactly, are you referencing, and where is your evidence to support such claims? 


 

I would suggest that your claim that Obama created more distrust and hatred is more applicable to Trump, as it is with many of your unsubstantial aggressions toward President Obama.


A new norm has been created by Donald Trump which has allowed for a standard of decency and respect to be replaced by hostile and egregious behavior.  This is the man who encouraged supporters at a 2016 campaign rally to “knock the crap out of them,” pointing to protestors in the crowd.  This is the man who should be our standard bearer, our role model in front of the world.  We deserve so much better.  We can, however, with purpose and persistence, through our election process, find our way back to a more sane and civil state. 


 

Contact Rich at richmskgn@gmail.com