Republicans Care About Their Kids: How to Rightly Shame

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Al Jazeera English / YouTube US protesters rally outside White House...
Al Jazeera English / YouTube

Here’s one of the stories that started with a light-hearted tone, then a mild dose of “but it teaches us a lesson,” and then deeper, as I grew more concerned. Much of the light-heartedness is now trashed, because the story deserves …well, let’s just talk about …

We introduce Congresswoman Jackie Toledo (R-FL), who told Politico her children were wearing campaign T-shirts while canvassing for votes at a Tampa coffee shop when another customer lashed out against her politics. Ironically, Toledo is an immigrant from Peru, and in any normal situation, the fact that an immigrant ran for office and won would constitute a nice story, regardless of party. Throw out the customer who lashed out, and this is what we want, right? Immigrants, from all over the world, seeking the American dream and contributing greatly, without regard for party. At least I don’t care about which “party” such an impressive person joined.

Toledo – rightly – complained vociferously about believing children (I go so far as to say all family, spouses, whomever) are off-limits, criticize the candidate, and do so appropriately. The end.

The other customer should not have lashed out with her children there, at least not strongly enough to cause any sort of scene or in any way embarrass the children. A mild, “Congresswoman, I would hope you would consider other immigrants’ children …” respectful conversation would not – in that situation – be inappropriate.

The only “but” here is that Congresswoman Jackie Toledo has said nothing at all against the Trump policy regarding children of refugees. That, in any normal world, would seem to qualify as deeply hypocritical. Her children shouldn’t face embarrassment because “kids are off-limits,” but she won’t speak out against “kids” who were separated from families for the express purpose (this has been admitted) of deterring those seeking refugee status.

The Trump administration put kids front and center in their political purpose, and did so in an unforgivable way, one that may keep kids separated forever from their parents. This has never been more true now that Trump has said that all “due process” and appearances in front of judges should be eliminated, and deportation should start immediately, without their children. The promised reunification would ostensibly occur later, with strong doubts whether that will even be possible. Toledo has said nothing about kids being so within limits that the “punishment” for immigration may be loss of kids for a completely open time period.

The Bigger Picture:

The Politico concentrates upon left-wing fervor and fury occurring all over the country, whether kids are involved or not, and its effectiveness looking toward November: Republicans being driven out of coffee shops, restaurants, even a gas station. Such tactics have become a “thing” and one that can be good or bad, depending upon how it is done.

“[Y]ou push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere,” implored California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters at a Saturday rally, which prompted an immediate conservative backlash on social media.

Okay, Rep. Waters can be both right and wrong, depending upon how it is done. It is every restaurant’s right to “refuse” service to anyone, except when it’s based upon a civil right, such as race, legal immigrants, religion or sexuality.

So, restaurants refusing service at the door? Saying; “You’re not welcome here because we believe you are complicit in a practice that is inexcusable by any first world standard.” That is called a boycott, and it can be wholly appropriate to “boycott” public servants involved in this policy. I would say the same were the situation reversed, and Tea Party (remember them?) members sending the same message. Irony alert, that did happen.

Another example? Florida GOP Attorney General Pam Bondi required a police escort away from a movie about Mister Rogers after activists yelled at her in Tampa. There is serious disagreement about the level of animosity shown toward Bondi. Bondi says they swore, yelled loudly to the point of intimidation, even spit in her hair. Activists say they did nothing more than confront her on Republican policies, and they were civil.

Because she had a police escort away from the scene, let’s just say Bondi is correct for the point of discussion. The behavior she describes goes well-beyond the acceptable, at least in my mind.

The Real Takeway

There is no doubt that the left is beyond furious and had it with this administration and its apologists like Toledo. This can lead to effective counter-measures, or wholly inexcusable behavior that reflects poorly on what we stand for.

As pure and righteous as our anger may be, it cannot possibly match the stakes and anger of the protesters of the civil rights era, “the movement,” Martin Luther King and every one of his supporters. As angry as they were, whatever gains they made emerged out of their non-violent, rock-solid, shaming of the shameful, coupled with a refusal to lash back in the face of horrific abuse.

This is where an effective and strong strategy begins and pretty well ends. (Leaving out all the political planning, canvassing, etc.) We have marched in numbers only matched by “the movement” and the conviction runs nationwide, for the most part. We should not become part of the problem we fight. Trump mocked the left, he declared the press as “the enemy of the people,” his supporters strongly intimidated those who protested him, remember Charlottesville? We cannot become the left’s version of the current political scene.

March, sit in front of buses with kids, boycott businesses, refuse service, make a non-violent statement.

But never forget that some things remain forever out of bounds, especially anything involving children. If we don’t limit ourselves, the entire nation only sink further into chaos.

 

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