Importance of civility, respect in question

By PETER GILDERSON,

During the last six months the war on civility has escalated. Last June Maxine Waters, the 43rd district congresswoman from California, urged her supporters to harass Republican senators in restaurants, department stores, and gasoline stations, telling them that they are not welcome. Now the incivility has come closer to home. The South has traditionally been noted for polite behavior and respect for others, but an Ole Miss assistant professor recently tweeted: "Don't just interrupt a senator's meal, y'all, put your whole damn finger in their salads. Take their apps and distribute them to the other diners. Bring boxes and take their food home with you on the way out. They don't deserve your civility." It used to be that you could disagree with political opponents with civil arguments, giving your considered reasons for why you differed. But as Professor James Thomas demonstrates, many are now advocating aggressive physical action instead of reason. (Notice that Thomas throws in a "y'all", to make his comments sound more Southern. In fact he's from Kansas City.) On other campuses radical students have rioted to prevent speakers with different political views from entering their auditoriums.

The recent hearings on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court are another extreme example of incivility. The hearings were interrupted every 10 or 15 minutes by orchestrated, screaming protesters in the visitors' gallery before they were ejected. Others angrily confronted senators in the hallways and elevators. What are we coming to? Do we have to insert soundproof barriers in the gallery, and forbid visitors from congressional quarters during hearings?

 

Civility and respect are cousins. If you respect a person you will be civil toward him. If you respect your country you will show your decency to the symbols of the country, such as the nation's flag. (I have ceased to watch pro football because of the lack of respect for our flag.) Respect for law and order should be an obvious attribute of any civilized society, but a Florida electoral candidate has now said that police and prisons are hindrances to justice. How does that make any sense? Also many have called for abolishing ICE--immigration and customs enforcement--who, as the name suggests, enforce the nation's laws regarding immigration.

Disrespect for police is rampant in spite of the fact that every day there are thousands of good deeds performed all over the country by our police. Their duty is to keep us safe. Certainly there are a few isolated instances when officers exceeded their authority, but many of these exceptions occurred when criminals disobeyed police commands. What is an officer to do when a suspect flees? If he shoots he is liable; but a solution must be found. Perhaps the first couple of rounds in the officer's weapon should be rubber bullets. That might slow down the culprit.

The upcoming mid-term elections will be, in part, a referendum on civility and respect. Do we want intimidation by individuals and even mobs to dictate the future of our great country? Let's all get out to vote.

Peter Gilderson, Madison, 601-853-4632

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