At the risk of seeming rude, please take this as more plea than curse: Stop being so nasty to each other. Your enmity is eating us from the inside. If vengeance does belong to the Lord, then prepare for thunder and lightning. Vengeance is becoming your national pastime.
The latest — and most outrageous — example occurred this past weekend, when Sarah Huckabee Sanders, spokesperson for President Trump, was asked to leave a restaurant in Lexington, Va. The place is called The Red Hen, but Sanders’ requested departure had nothing to do with the fact that she didn’t help bake the bread.
No, her sin is helping to cook up the logic, ill or otherwise, behind every deed and word from the president’s lips and fingers. That’s a daunting job, and Sanders certainly performs, no matter any absence of veracity. But that’s not sufficient to demand someone leave a restaurant.
Neither should we condone the heckling of Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and senior adviser Stephen Miller, two principals in the heated madness of immigration debate, while they dined at Mexican restaurants, no matter how tone deaf that culinary choice. Nor should we denounce first lady Melania Trump for the “I really don’t care. Do u?” imprinted on a raincoat she chose for a surprise visit to an immigrant detention center, no matter how intellectually ill-advised that message would appear.
Yet, each of them has become a target in our nuclear war of words and deeds during what is becoming the most polarizing period in our country since Vietnam. No one can respect the other’s opinion. There always must be recoil. In Sanders’ case: I don’t like the message, so I won’t feed the messenger.
Samuel Johnson, famed British author, wrote: “When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness and decency.”
That’s what we fear, that our decaying and even discarded commitment to civility will do permanent rending to the patchwork fabric that unites, fraying common cause, common good and common decency. Salvos at Trump and his staff also are both noisy and counterproductive. Does declining to serve Sanders help your argument?
Sen. Marco Rubio on Twitter: “Trump haters still haven’t realized how much they help him with their condescension of those who either voted for him or don’t share their hatred of him. And how much they help him with their irrational hostility towards those who work for him.”
To be sure, this nastiness is bipartisan, and at least some of us are starting not to care about making amends. A CBS News poll showed that 75 percent of Democrats suggest re-unifying the public is a high priority versus 23 percent of Republicans, 16 percent of Trump’s base.
Melania Trump said Monday at a conference for Students Against Destructive Decisions: “Kindness, compassion and positivity are very important traits in life. It is far easier to say nothing than it is to speak words of kindness.”
If fear-based anger, loathing and rigidity are choking those kind words from our throats, can the silence temper our distemper?
Once before we screamed ourselves into rigid corners, where we divided and came out killing each other. Let’s not shout ourselves into another Civil War.