Why Be Civil? A lesson for the Midterms — from a Scotsman
As you Americans vote on what can only be described as midterm elections for not just you but the whole of the Western world who loathe Trump and are praying for that blue wave to wash away the shame and iniquity of “not my president” Trump, I find it expedient to reflect on the question “why be civil?” The reason is simple, Hilary Clinton made a truly remarkable statement around the 10th September where she rejected civility entirely — well, until the Democrats once again take their rightful place as guardians of the truth and justice of the free world and expunge the scourge of the “power hungry, [lying], and playing dirty” Republicans back to their dusty Alabama farms and the Texas panhandle where they can drink whiskey (perhaps tea if they are from Alaska) and tell racist jokes about Obama. I was really quite shocked people actually still wanted to report on dear Hilary, it has been Obama we have seen on the campaign trail as the face of tolerance and reason, certainly not Hilary “not my Democrat” Clinton, her and Bill’s misdemeanours are legendary — this is a serious case of the Democratic pot calling the Republican kettle black!
However, cheap rhetorical point scoring aside, she boldy and without pausing for breath adopted the position her opponents had no intellectual right to be listened to or to be given space in the civil sphere, they just need to be driven out before us, the morally and socially enlightened, because they are so bigoted and confused, they are beyond redemption. I think that is called “socialism” and not the democratic version! It is this “vision” of socialism that excites the the DNC chairman and his daughter’s apparently, so maybe Hilary is far more shrewder here and is planning a comeback on this ticket in 2020….I think Trump would accept a couple of pipe bombs and a bit of Anthrax in the mail if he got that deal, he would be happy to embrace the reality of Hilary’s new politics.
In contrast, what does “being civil” actually mean? “Civil” has two main senses, both which are relevant here. “Civil” is that “relating to ordinary citizens and their concerns, as distinct from military or ecclesiastical matters”. More specifically in this sense, “civil” government is that aspect of government that is separate from the State, or at least should be — ordinary people governing themselves at a local or regional level. America was founded when it fought for its independence from us wicked and oppressive Europeans, your Constitution was designed to prevent a strong, central government from emerging and imposing its will on the people and to prevent the patronage of the State on favouring any one religious denomination (the Founder’s only actually considered the choice to be between different Reformed Christian denominations, they never thought anyone would actually be so stupid as to say, want to remain a Catholic, Mohammedan or a Dawkinite (atheist); it was a qualified rather than an absolute pluralism and tolerance, e.g. you could not sacrifice your baby to Satan in the name of religious freedom, there had to be some normative base of behaviour which they took to be sola scriptura (scripture alone) and tota scriptura (all of scripture, not just the bits the Catholics liked). It was to prevent the tyranny of the Pope in your land who was at once the religious, military and economic leader of the “civilised” Latin speaking world, head of a transnational socio-industrial-religious complex with hosts of the fanatical Jesuits and armies of servile monarchs, ready to spill blood, starve and torture their way to your property and money, all in the name of the Lord and the divine right of Kings to rule of course.
“Civil” in this sense thus means:
· A commitment to freedom of speech and association, “you shall not show partiality in judgement”;
· Freedom of conscience regarding religion within a framework of accepted, shared values as described in principle by the Ten commandments and explicated in detail in the case laws of the Old Testament, e.g. “Do not commit adultery” was the commandment (statute to us), Leviticus and Numbers make it clear this includes not shagging your step-daughter or any of your animals too;
· Government of the people by the people for the people at a local level with a national government only constituted in times of national crisis, e.g. war: “Moses told the people go and pick wise and discerning people from among you to rule you…the difficult cases bring to me”.
The second sense of the word “civil” is to be courteous, to be polite, to be civilised and this we see actually ensures we can enjoy the civil stability in the sense above. To be “civilised” is to be governed by just and fair laws, to respect the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. That does not mean we cannot passionately disagree but we still respect one another’s right to their positions. There are limits as to what action we as individual citizens can take against other free citizens, that is the ideal of liberty, which is why you have that big statue that we all come and visit and wish we had.
We can not, for example, claim to be “civilised” when we call for running your political opponents out of a restaurant and then tweet about it “we [Antifa] activists run that [Hispanic Trumpite] Ted Cruz [traitor] out of a restaurant in town, throwing his doggy bag out after him, fascists not welcome here”… This is where irony starts to emerge — fascists are the ones that run people out of town if they cannot get away with killing them! They choose to disdain intellectual engagement with their opponents and thus expose the intellectual weakness of their own position; civility to the fascist and the radical socialist (actually one and the same in terms of operation on the ground) is a bourgeois obstacle to true liberation. Besides, intellectual engagement is just too slow — why waste all that energy when a single well-placed petrol bomb does the job? Sheep stuffed full of the opium of the people (e.g. me and anyone who disagrees with them) sometimes need to be shocked out of our “conned” complacency with a little bit of Antifa incivility as applauded by those Democratic senators who were lining up to describe them as likened to Nazi fighters against Hitler as they were beating up those supremacist rednecks on Primetime — sort of came off the rails when they attacked those hippies at Berkeley though, not known for being a centre of fascism. Once you embrace incivility as a tool of political progress, you cannot be picky about it or you logically destroy your own position and become the next enemy of those agents of progress you evangelised into direct action last week.
Antifa = Antifasciscte Aktione, originally German revolutionary communists whose American branch has the stated aim of making the US ungovernable by fermenting civil unrest.
Hmmm, nice. Why this struck me as being extremely pertinent was because of the antics of Mr Sayoc et al.
He is sort of an inverse Clintonite, a Trump supporter who dispensed with all civility to ensure Trump stays in power. Poor Hilary was being interviewed after receiving his early Xmas gift in the mail, she was expressing her shock and outrage at what was happening, how divided we were, how there is a total lack of understanding. The media joined Hilary in lamenting the desperate dysfunction of American politics and my kids are on drugs too…they are still listening to Nirvana “smells like teen spirit”, how can we be so uncivilised? Even Trump was being sort of civil about Obama, “not on my watch”…
Obama actually had it right on — Trump is not the start of the problem, he is a symptom of it.
The problem is incivility (read “lack of civilisation”) and the abandonment of reason and argument to emotion and feelings. Our lack of civilisation now means the only way we know how to express ourselves is with the violence and hatred of trial by social media and mobocracy in front of lifts and the TV cameras. The problem started long ago when we gave up being civil with one another and put our faith in the boot and club of “direct action” which is not the direct action of Gandhi as he sat peacefully in the street or the triumphant “promised land” rhetoric of MLK that led a nation to repentance, this is just violence against those standing in the way of the manifest destiny of us bearers of all truth and right — the Church has failed, God has raised up the Marxists to show us the way — the rest of you are obstacles to be removed by any means necessary, all done in the name of furthering our “shared values”, well values shared by socialists of the non-democratic sort.
Did that fair and unbiased mainstream media have a eureka moment and we can now agree civility and civilisation is actually quite good for us after all? And this after lying, cheating and stealing to ensure Trump is out by any means necessary?
Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hall-e-lu-jah!
So, as you go to vote this week, please help us all by voting for those who believe in civility and civilisation, whatever party they claim allegiance too, demand they be civilised, not pretending to have the moral high-ground from where they can bomb (yes, literally) their opponents contra to law and liberty for all, demand they respect their opponents; civility that enjoys free and safe spaces for all (including honkies — can you imagine MLK supporting “safe spaces” for people of colour? He would judge we have failed catastrophically, why not restore “separate but equal”?); not sloganising on behalf of just my favourite minority group and not just when it suits my agenda, that preserves the right to dissent and the free exchange of ideas without the danger of being lynched (safe spaces for ideas on University campuses! Uni=many, versio = voices, opinions, ideas), that allows my most cherished beliefs to be challenged and me to be left traumatised because someone has undermined my preconception of myself, my legend of my own mind.
Please rediscover the freedom and civility envisaged by those writer’s of your fine Constitution.