Democrats Have Completely Abandoned Civility
On July 20, Nancy Pelosi said that if President Trump refuses to accept the results of the November election, he will have to be "fumigated" out of the White House. Fumigation is a technique used against insects, and the idea that human beings are insects has a long history in totalitarian discourse. Hitler described Jews as "vermin" and "parasites," a form of dehumanization that is always just one step away from physical violence. Speaker Pelosi should apologize immediately, and profusely, for her use of this inappropriate rhetoric.
Most thoughtful persons would agree that labeling another an "insect" is uncivil. A cultured individual who practices civility is tolerant of the opinions and beliefs of others, and indeed, toleration is the best measure of civility. One may be a Catholic, but he practices tolerance toward other Christian and non-Christian forms of belief, even including atheism and agnosticism. He may be a liberal, but he values the opinions of conservatives and treats conservatives with respect.
By this measure, Joe Biden and the radicals who now support him have not been civil. Biden now expresses contempt for conservative policies before even considering their potential value. So it was with President Trump's pledge to buy American-made goods. That pledge of "America First" drew harsh criticism from Biden and his party — until Biden stole the idea and made it part of his own platform. Biden could not bring himself to admit that Trump was right. That sort of contempt for another is the essence of incivility.
Like most liberals, Biden's contempt is all-encompassing. In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., ultimately decided in Hobby Lobby's favor by the Supreme Court, Biden sided with those who would force persons of traditional Christian faith to pay for employees' contraceptives. Indeed, it was Biden's Affordable Care Act that forced Hobby Lobby to provide all twenty FDA-approved contraceptives to employees. The Obama administration was intolerant of traditionalists when it wrote the contraceptive mandate into the Affordable Care Act, and Biden would only double down on this intolerance if he sought to restore the mandate to his "expanded" version of Obamacare.
Hobby Lobby was not an isolated case of liberal intolerance. In every free speech case that arose during the Obama years, Biden seemed more than willing to force his opinions on others.
The Michael Flynn case is a good example. After denying all knowledge of the decision to go after Flynn, Biden corrected himself but said he played no part in the decision. Then it came to light that he attended a key meeting at which that very decision was made, and that he apparently argued in favor of investigating Flynn, as confirmed by Peter Strzok's handwritten record of the meeting. Was V.P. Biden "civil" in his treatment of Gen. Flynn? Was he "tolerant" of the incoming administration? Has he ever been tolerant of these who oppose him?
Biden still wants to impeach the president because he investigated Biden and his son's dealings with Ukraine's Burisma Holdings. So the president, sworn to uphold the law, is to be impeached for investigating what appears to be corrupt dealing with a foreign power? What next? The president should have nothing to do with enforcing the law?
Well, yes. Biden has voiced no support for sending federal agents to Portland, Oregon, or to other cities. Former education secretary Arne Duncan, Biden's associate in the Obama administration, has denounced the idea of sending federal agents into Chicago to quell the violence. Biden has been cagey, but he may be just as opposed as Duncan.
To sit by and watch hundreds of persons shot and killed in Chicago and in other cities across America is not a mark of tolerance or concern. Biden pretends to be the special friend of blacks, but he is willing to see thousands gunned down, even though those killings could be prevented. Not just that: he and his party condemn those who want to prevent the killings.
Biden's position is not just wrong — it is intolerant and uncivil. Is it civil to say that police should not defend the lives and property of citizens? Is it tolerant to say police have no right to defend themselves when under attack? But that, in effect, is what Biden is saying.
Civility is far more than "consideration" or "good manners." It is the difference between savagery and civilization. Contempt for others is the first step on the path toward genocide. It's not just impolite; it's dangerous for liberals to suggest that southerners are the descendants of "traitors," or that military bases must be renamed because of their connection with Southern leaders.
Is V.P. Biden unaware of New England's Hartford Convention, with its secessionist agenda, or of extensive spying for Britain on the part of New Englanders during the War of 1812? If Southern secession was "traitorous," would Mr. Biden not admit that the role of New Englanders in the War of 1812 (and again in the Mexican-American War) was worse than traitorous, and that places and monuments named for New Englanders must be renamed? In light of New England's past behavior, should the New England Patriots be renamed the New England Turncoats?
Another word for contempt is arrogance, and arrogance of the worst kind is on display in the mainstream media's attitude toward the president, in the attitude of liberal politicians toward our nation's history, and in the treatment of citizens like the McCloskeys by a St. Louis prosecutor. Radical attacks, not just on property and individuals, but on faith, history, and culture, are proof of the contempt in which liberals hold the rest of the population. These attacks continue year after year, and they are splitting our nation apart.
As we enter the last three months of the presidential campaign, we will see even greater examples of incivility. As bad as it has been for three and a half years, the left's treatment of President Trump will exhibit new depths of contempt, arrogance, and intolerance. Sadly, half of the electorate will see nothing wrong with this. The public is used to it by now. After decades of Schumer, Pelosi, Obama, and Biden, public taste has been coarsened to the degree that it accepts a bald-faced lie or slanderous charges of racism or sexual assault.
We live in an age of incivility both in our personal dealings and in the public arena. We retreat to our homes and switch off the political commentary, hoping for an hour of peace. But if Biden is elected, there will be nowhere to hide. Biden's tax plan will strip away the prosperity that makes our comfortable homes possible, and he will remove the police protection that makes life safe. The streets will fill with looters, vandals, and anarchists, and Biden will sit back, as he does now, and excuse their behavior as a legitimate form of protest.
Excusing violence of this kind, and committing the violence of property theft via taxation, is hardly civil. It resembles the thuggish behavior of tyrants everywhere, from Mao to Chávez to Hitler and Stalin. None of these men was "civil" in his behavior, and Biden appears not to be so, either.
As conservatives, we continue to call for civility, and we refuse to lower ourselves to the name-calling and slander so common among liberals. Even as liberals move toward violence and autocracy, we wish to preserve a democratic society based on respect and tolerance. We will not lower ourselves to incivility, even in these times of anarchy and political division.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).