Anne Gunderson
Published in

Anne Gunderson

When Civility Becomes Complicity

It’s the “you can’t sit with us” heard ‘round the world. As the Trump Administration brazenly tears families apart, detains them, then deports them often to their deaths, the public is beginning to respond in any small way they can that these policies — and the people who enact them — will not be tolerated.

Last Wednesday, Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen was met with protest when she attempted to dine at a Mexican restaurant. Later that week, the owner of a Virginia restaurant asked Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave at the request of her staff, some of whom identify as gay. These events combined have reignited calls from many white liberals to rise above the shameful actions of the Trump Administration and allow them to eat in peace. This has left many wondering how much they’re expected to tolerate for the sake of being the bigger person and that maybe all this civility is not the answer.

At this point, maybe you’re still wondering what’s so wrong with asking people to be nice to each other. It’s not what you’re asking but who you’re asking. My challenge to everyone who so desperately wants civility is to ask yourself why. What is the worst possible outcome of the Trump Administration having to order in from now on? What are the consequences for people feeling shame again for supporting and enacting racist and dangerous policies? And finally, do those consequences represent an actual threat to those who are the most marginalized or rather to your own sense of security and order?

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Anne is a friend of all things nuanced, inspiring, and thoughtful.

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