As I write, Twitter is ablaze with encomiums for an opinion column on civility by Michelle Goldberg in the New York Times, enough to be trending in the top ten: We Have a Crisis of Democracy, Not Manners.
There’s so much good to quote from this terrific piece that I can’t without violating fair use, so go read the whole thing. It will be balm for your soul. Here are the bits that were most balm to mine.
Yes, it is acceptable to shun racists:
Last year, the white nationalist Richard Spencer was kicked out of his Virginia gym after another member confronted him and called him a Nazi. This incident did not generate a national round of hand-wringing about the death of tolerance, perhaps because most people tacitly agree that it’s O.K. to shun professional racists.
It’s a little more complicated when the professional racist is the president of the United States. The norms of our political life require a degree of bipartisan forbearance. But treating members of Donald Trump’s administration as ordinary public officials rather than pariahs does more to normalize bigotry than exercising alongside a white separatist.
I lost count of how many commenters here made this point:
A Washington Post editorial urged the protesters to think about the precedent they are setting. “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?” it asked.
Of course, this is not hard to imagine at all, since abortion opponents have assassinated abortion providers in their homes and churches, firebombed their clinics and protested at their children’s schools.
Another way both sides are not the same is that we don’t do this shit:
Faced with the unceasing cruelty and degradation of the Trump presidency, liberals have not taken to marching around in public with assault weapons and threatening civil war. I know of no left-wing publication that has followed the example of the right-wing Federalist and run quasi-pornographic fantasies about murdering political enemies. (“Close your eyes and imagine holding someone’s scalp in your hands,” began a recent Federalist article.) Unlike Trump, no Democratic politician I’m aware of has urged his or her followers to beat up opposing demonstrators.
The kicker paragraph contains the following brilliantly efficient explanation of why Nielsen was harassed in a Mexican eatery, plus a link to a restaurant review that you’ll also love.
As long as our rulers wage war on cosmopolitan culture, they shouldn’t feel entitled to its fruits.