When Civility Is A Lost Virtue

Civility used to be considered a noble cause. Polite discourse was the norm. That’s no longer the case in a world where people who harass at a woman are considered “heroic.”

By now the world knows the story of Dan Goldstein, a man who found out Ivanka Trump was on his JetBlue flight, chased her down, and yelled at her about how her father is ruining the United States before being escorted off the flight. His husband, Hunter College professor Matthew Lasner twitted prior to the incident “Ivanka and Jared at JFK T5, flying commercial. My husband chasing them down to harass them. #banalityofevil.” JetBlue “reaccommodated” both parties on the next flight.

Keep this in mind through a filter of the following statement: “Perception is reality.” You’ll need that for later analysis.

Why Lasner and Goldstein chose to do what they did is up to them. Three questions are worth examining in this scenario. First, why did Dan Goldstein think it appropriate to harass Ivanka Trump and yell at her about how her father was “ruining” the country? As much as you may adore or despise Donald Trump, he’s done nothing yet to “ruin” this country. He’s yet to take the oath of office. All we know is he’s decided to tell a bunch of people who he thinks are good people to advise him in the President’s cabinet. Goldstein did nothing more than yell at a woman who happens to be the President-elect’s daughter until he was taken off the plane for it.

Take the name “Ivanka Trump” out of the same scenario and Goldstein is the villain in anyone’s eyes. He’s a guy who decided to yell at a woman on a plane until he was escorted off. Yet because the Pantsuit Nation crowd lost the election, and they can’t begin to understand why, the one response left is to keep getting angry about it, painting the President and his family as some sort of new world Hitler, and justifying it because reasons. It’s unacceptable to harass anyone, regardless of gender, race, religion, pronoun choice, or whatever justification you dream up.

Question number two is why Matthew Lasner felt compelled to twit to the world his husband’s impending actions? Harassment is still a crime, and since airports are covered under Federal law, Lasner “virtue signaled” to the world his husband’s intent to potentially cause a criminal act. While it’s unclear whether Ivanka suffered any fear of imminent death or even “substantial emotional distress” because of Goldstein’s outburst, it’s generally not a good idea to broadcast to the world your husband’s decision to potentially commit a crime. The twit is deleted, but screenshots are everywhere, and if Ivanka chose to sue, well, it’s not hard to imagine someone doing a quick Google search to find it as evidence.

Finally, why does anyone think this is acceptable, much less laudable behavior? Take the Trump name out of the equation and Goldstein and Lasner are absolutely the asshole villains in this scenario. Yet because it’s the President elect’s daughter, and therefore the perception is “Lady Hitler,” it’s considered appropriate. One writer for @midnight and the Onion even considers the act “heroic.”

And to make a broader point: liberals need to stop being nice. Right away. Now. This sham of tolerance and civility has done nothing for the Democrats and everything for the GOP…Stop being nice. Stop. Stop it…Keep shouting in their faces. Keep confronting them wherever and whenever possible. Show that you’re willing to actually fight for something, goddammit, even if that entails temporarily looking mean.

Joe Randazzo’s skin in this game is unclear. Yet he’s on the path to something worth discussing. “Tolerance” and “civility” got conservatives nowhere for eight straight years. Taking the moral high ground on every position bought no political capital. At some point, conservatives started using the same tactics the left used, realizing the only way to win was a shift in strategy. This was something the “progressive liberal” front couldn’t stand. They decided to shift strategies, and go high when conservatives went low.

That strategy shift, attempting to become morally superior, didn’t work. The nation called the newly labeled “regressive left” out on its bullshit. It led to the election of a President Trump. Now that those who stood #WithHer lost, they’re upset about it, and coming unhinged. Not that they were ever really in the business of being nice, as Randazzo points out.

The “tolerant” liberal needs to go away for a while because, the fact is, liberals aren’t that tolerant anyway. They’re mean and they’re mad and they are barely able to hide it anymore.

The myth of the “tolerant liberal” is a myth on full display for eight years straight. While people fought over bathrooms, worlds burned. When people argued over stupid videos about “privilege” and “institutionalized” racism, others mocked the deaths of people who didn’t vote the same way they did in a Presidential election. And yet at every turn, the conservatives just took the punches until they decided they were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

If perception is reality, then the reality is the nation that voted in President Trump perceives each screed like Randazzo’s as one more bit of proof the regressive left can’t handle civility. They were never interested in being civil, or having honest discussions about a damned thing. All they wanted was to tell everyone what to do, what to say, and how to think, and act like nannies while doing it.

Civility is dead. It may exist somewhere as a faded memory, but both sides of the aisle are now only interested in anger.