by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor, John Locke Foundation
Kyle Smith writes in National Review about the crisis of incivility in America. I’m going to highlight two phrases he used, because I’ve used them in discussing this same subject over many years:
When absolutely everything is political, it makes sense to harass your opponents while they eat. …
If you wondered whether the delirious encouragement that greeted these acts on the left would further expand the field of those targeted for harassment, your suspicions were confirmed within two days, when Representative Maxine Waters of California urged her fellow Democrats: “If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.” So, create a permanent traveling protest circus around even those members of the cabinet who have nothing to do with immigration policy? Watch out, Elaine Chao and Sonny Perdue.
We’ve taken a big step backwards in our emotional maturity when we not only can’t break bread with people from the other side of the ideological divide, but we can’t even stand to see such people breaking bread across the room, and we have to tell them so.
I wrote a piece in 2012 entitled “Cherish the many things in life above politics.” In it I praised political opposites Stanley Fish and Dinesh D’Souza for living a friendship openly and unapologetically. Fish even spoke about being “chastised” for “breaking bread” with D’Souza, a criticism he rejected outright because:
The idea is that you should choose your friends or spouses or partner by applying a political litmus test. Have the right (in this case, left) views and you can be my friend. It doesn’t work that way in the world — witness Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch, Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart, Gregory Peck and Charlton Heston, James Carville and Mary Matalin, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia — and, if I can borrow from one of my own titles, it’s a good thing, too. Let’s eat.
I have long lamented “our long cultural decline away from civility and appreciation of shared values among people who merely have differing political opinions,” using the tag “Everything is political” for these kinds of stories. But “progressives” try to enslave even truth to suit their politics of the moment — there is no aspect of society that they would suffer to remain free from politics.
Not even a night out with family, a visit to a grocery store, a stop at a gas station. As I wrote,
There is no respite, no safe haven, no oasis from their relentless drumbeat of coercing and enforcing political groupthink. It’s perverse. And frightening.
And … wearying. It wears down your very soul, making it callous and unfeeling.
There’s a better way:
We need to strengthen our commonalities. Embrace what we enjoy in common and nurture it, together. Spend more time focusing on those good things.
The politics of this moment in time aside, the real “Resistance” Movement this country needs is one that resists the dedicated effort by a few to cram our political differences into everything, especially nice things that healthy societies keep free and clear from tawdry politics.