If Not Now, When?
Meghan Daum

Meghan, you are bright and articulate so I’m surprised to find this statement in your essay:

Since the beginning of the Trump era, social justice sloganeering has more or less become the official language of the left.

This view is short-sighted and it discounts many years of similar behavior from the left. One could argue that it has roots in genuine humanitarianism: the civil rights era (which was largely rejected by the left), voting rights, etc. But there is a widely documented pattern of such sloganeering that you seem to reject in order to make a point about current political hostilities. Why?

Congressman John Lewis has a colorful history of hyperbole:

“Read the Republican contract,” Lewis said on the House floor on March 21, 1995. “They’re coming for our children. They’re coming for the poor. They’re coming for the sick, the elderly and the disabled.” Lewis’s comment paraphrased a famous passage by Rev. Martin Niemöller, who was in the resistance against the Nazis.”

Today we have Lewis, Maxine Waters, Hank Johnson, etc. These are contemporary figures, but the trend extends back to the days of Reconstruction when the Democrat party assumed leadership of the KKK. None of this is to say the right is clean and pure as the driven snow; it is a pandemic spread by viruses common to politicians.

I’d love to see a return to civility such as the era of Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan, but there is scant hope of such a reversal. You’re correct in the assessment that timing is important but there is no acceptable time for hate or lies.