When people put children in cages, and justify such abuse by referencing the Bible, they no longer deserve civility.
Recently a Virginia restaurant refused to serve White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders because she chooses to work for President Donald Trump.
Sanders is one of several Trump administration official to be targeted for protest while eating at a restaurant in recent days. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House senior adviser Stephen Miller also faced spontaneous protests while eating at a public restaurant.
This supposed incivility towards Sanders and other Trump administration officials comes after they defended the president’s draconian, deplorable, and intolerant policy of separating children from their parents at the border.
In fact, adding insult to injury, both White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Attorney General Jeff Sessions used the Bible to justify and defend the cruel and despicable policy of separating children from parents.
In short, the administration’s despicable policy towards children caused a great deal of understandable public anger and backlash, and some acted on that anger by peacefully protesting against the Trump officials responsible for the policy.
However, some see a loss of civility in the spontaneous protests against prominent Trump officials.
For example, The Washington Post editorial board defended White House officials while making a plea for civility:
We nonetheless would argue that Ms. Huckabee, and Ms. Nielsen and Mr. Miller, too, should be allowed to eat dinner in peace. Those who are insisting that we are in a special moment justifying incivility should think for a moment how many Americans might find their own special moment. How hard is it to imagine, for example, people who strongly believe that abortion is murder deciding that judges or other officials who protect abortion rights should not be able to live peaceably with their families?
… abortion providers have been stalked. Their children have been stalked. Their places of business have been vandalized. And, lest we forget, doctors who perform abortions have been fucking killed! They’ve been gunned down in their clinics, in their kitchens, and in their churches. They have not been allowed to live peaceably with their families…
Pierce is correct, of course. Conservatives long ago gave up any right to call for civility. Indeed, one can understand Trump’s entire political career – the birtherism, the racism, the misogyny – as an endorsement of and an argument for incivility, and intolerance.
Must We Tolerate The Intolerant?
In his seminal work, The Open Society and Its Enemies, philosopher Karl Popper eloquently addressed the “paradox of tolerance.” Popper writes:
Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them… We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.
In other words, when faced with intolerance, we may need to abandon civility. That is, in order to defend a tolerant and open society, we may need to show the moral courage and the moral conviction to be uncivil to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and others who choose to work and speak for the intolerant and dangerous President Donald Trump.
Bottom line: When faced with the anti-American and immoral agenda of white supremacy and Christian theocracy exhibited by the Trump administration, it may be time to forget civility, in order to protect and maintain a free and tolerant society.