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Erosion of Civility

In Europe, acid attacks appear to be increasing:

Four American college students were attacked with acid by a woman on Sunday at a train station in southern France, injuring at least two of them, according to the local police.
- AURELIEN BREEDEN, Acid Attack in France Injures at Least 2 American Students, NYT, SEPT. 17, 2017

In August, a man suffered serious injuries and scarring when two men threw acid in his face, reportedly because he refused to buy drugs from them. In July, two teenagers were arrested after carrying out five acid attacks in a little over an hour, in some cases blinding victims astride mopeds and stealing the vehicle. In April, an attack at a nightclub left a dozen people with severe burns to their faces and arms.

The Metropolitan Police reported 455 incidents in 2016 in which a corrosive substance was used, a sharp increase from 265 in 2015 and 174 in 2014.
- ELLEN BARRY, Six Burned in Acid Attack as Groups Clash in East London, NYT, SEPT. 23, 2017


The issue arises as campuses have become hotbeds of racial and cultural strife. In a 2018 report, the Anti-Defamation League found an 89 percent increase in reported episodes of anti-Semitism on college campuses in one year, as well as a steady rise in white-supremacist propaganda.
- Erica L. Green, Wider Definition of Judaism Is Likely to Aid Crackdown on Colleges, NYT, Dec. 11, 2019



They raised a champion. They also raised a narcissistic loner who lacked basic decency. “Even the most basic human civilities — a simple hello or thank you — routinely went missing from his vocabulary. A nod was too much to expect.”
- DWIGHT GARNER, A New Biography Traces Tiger Woods’s Mythical Rise and Fall, NYT, MARCH 19, 2018


“The Democrats have become too extreme,” Mr. Trump said at a rally on Tuesday in Council Bluffs, Iowa. “And they’ve become, frankly, too dangerous to govern. They’ve gone wacko.” Democrats, he added, are practicing the “politics of anger, division and destruction.” In Erie on Wednesday night, he again warned about the “radical Democrat mob.”

Mr. Trump has often engaged in what some analysts call projection, describing his opponents in the same terms they use to describe him. While his own mental stability has been questioned, Mr. Trump regularly calls his foes “crazy,” “psycho,” “wacky” and “mentally deranged.” Just weeks after a former aide published a book about him titled “Unhinged,” he applied the same word to Democrats. ...
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. this year boasted that if they were in high school together, he would have “beat the hell” out of Mr. Trump for disrespecting women — to which the president replied that if they did fight, Mr. Biden “would go down fast and hard, crying all the way.” ...
Hillary Clinton waded into the debate this week in an interview with CNN when she rejected the notion of civility with Mr. Trump’s Republicans. “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about,” she said. ...
Not every Democrat agrees with the more aggressive approach. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat trailing in her bid for re-election in Trump-friendly North Dakota, repudiated Mrs. Clinton’s comments. “That’s ridiculous,” she told CNN. “I can’t imagine how you get anything done if you don’t bring civility back into politics, and that goes for both sides.” ...
“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you?” Mr. Trump said at one rally, promising if they did, “I will pay for the legal fees.” At another, he said of a protester, “I’d like to punch him in the face.” ...
In an interview on Fox News on Wednesday night, Mr. Trump denied that he bore any responsibility for the current incivility because of statements like those. ...
His messages at his latest rallies include inherent contradictions. Upset at the allegations made against Justice Kavanaugh, he lately has extolled due process, even as he bathes in “lock her up” chanting about opponents who have never been charged with a crime. He has talked about the presumption of innocence but says he is “99 percent” sure Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, leaked a letter accusing Justice Kavanaugh of sexual assault, basing his conclusion not on evidence but on her “body language” in denying it.

It was his comments about Ms. Feinstein that generated the “lock her up” chants in Council Bluffs, following the more ritual “lock her up” chants at the mention of Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump then said Democrats have grown out of control: “You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob. And that’s what the Democrats are becoming.”
- Peter Baker, Trump’s Contradiction: Assailing ‘Left-Wing Mob’ as Crowd Chants ‘Lock Her Up’, NYT, Oct. 10, 2018


And everyone can take a lesson from New York: Bite back when someone makes prejudicial assumptions or treats you unfairly at work!
- Megan Greenwell, An Open Letter (and a Rant) on Age Discrimination at Work, NYT, Sept. 12, 2019


Between 1997 and 2006, consumers, lenders and builders created a housing bubble, and pretty much the entire establishment missed it. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the people who regulate them missed it. The big commercial banks and the people who regulate them missed it. The Federal Reserve missed it, as did the ratings agencies, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the political class in general.

It’s easy to see why this happened. People who make it into the establishment work and play well with others. They are part of the same overlapping social networks, and inevitably begin to perceive the world in similar, conventional ways. They thrive in institutions where people are not rewarded for being cantankerous intellectual bomb-throwers.
- David Brooks, The Goldman Drama, NYT, APRIL 26, 2010


David Brooks has remarked, apropos of the groupthink that grips the establishment, that our institutions don't reward “cantankerous intellectual bomb-throwers." Well, that's exactly who we need to start rewarding.
- William Deresiewicz, Excellent Sheep, p. 236


In an age when civility is considered a display of weakness, only brash, rude and aggressive behavior satisfies the irritated who wait and hope for SOMETHING.
- dressmaker, USA, Comment on Noah Feldman, This Is a Constitutional Crisis. What Happens Next?, NYT, Oct. 9, 2019



Only in the sewer that Donald Trump has dragged us into can politeness be considered a problem. Pointed questions can be posed with civility yet not risk losing their power to illuminate.

As much as anything else, Democratic presidential hopefuls should remind the electorate what mature adult behavior looks like at the highest level.
- Dotconnector, New York, Oct. 12, Comment on Frank Bruni, Democrats Have a Politeness Problem, NYT, Oct. 12, 2019


A common lament of our time is that our culture has become too safe, and that no one can say anything provocative anymore. “Everyone fears the wrath of the Twitter mob and the social justice warriors and the P.C. police,” Bill Maher told The New York Times Magazine in September.
- Michelle Goldberg, The Thrilling Shock of ‘Queen & Slim’, NYT, Dec. 2, 2019


... he did not wish to have his villainy made public. It was lucky for me that I did not live on a distant plantation, but in a town not so large that the inhabitants were ignorant of each other's affairs. Bad as are the laws and customs in a slaveholding community, the doctor, as a professional man, deemed it prudent to keep up some outward show of decency. ...
How often did I rejoice that I lived in a town where all the inhabitants knew each other! If I had been on a remote plantation, or lost among the multitude of a crowded city, I should not be a living woman at this day.
- Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, p. 28, p. 32


There’s plenty of blame to go around for the intense — really, infantilizing — degree of polarization that has overwhelmed American politics across the past 40 years. But the nihilism of this moment — the trashing of constitutional safeguards, the scorn for facts, the embrace of corruption, the indifference to historical precedent and to foreign interference in American politics — is due principally to cowardice and opportunism on the part of Republican leaders who have chosen to reject their party’s past standards and positions and instead follow Donald Trump, all the way down.
- The Editorial Board, Trump Has Been Impeached. Republicans Are Following Him Down., NYT, Dec. 18, 2019


SparkyTheWonderPup, Boston, 51m ago
Times Pick
''Watching the House Republicans before the Articles of Impeachment vote confirms that it is now official - the Republican Party has deceased and has been replaced by the Cult of Trump. Yes, the impeachment is historic, but what is more historic is the death of one of our two political parties. While this has been coming for sometime, perhaps over four decades, the end of the GOP into a cult of personality was not predicted. We all saw in 2010 the beginning of the TEA Party takeover of the GOP, but how many of us saw that it would formulate into a total “Dear Leader” allegiance and complete rejection of their own history as the Party of Lincoln.

We all have been watching the Republican Party devolve since 2008 election, but how many of us saw it ending this way?


GF commented 24 minutes ago ...
CA24m ago
@SparkyTheWonderPup Indeed. Let me add one comment, though. These days, John McCain is considered a hero and someone who stood for the "old and honorable" Republican Party. But it was John McCain who opened the Tea Party flood gates with the nomination of Sarah Palin as his VP. Likewise, many of us now appear to gloss over George W. Bush's lying to the American public to start the war he had always wanted. So Trump and McConnell are simply the current incarnations of the most horrific developments initiated by people that we have now admitted to the status of honorable elder statesmen.


Ed commented 19 minutes ago ...
California 19m ago
@SparkyTheWonderPup I think the cult of personality can be traced back even further, back to Ronald Reagan.


asg21 commented 12 minutes ago ...
Denver 12m ago
@GF
Excellent, and oft-overlooked, points - thanks for the reminders.

- Comments [at about 9am pst 12/19/19] on The Editorial Board, Trump Has Been Impeached. Republicans Are Following Him Down., NYT, Dec. 18, 2019










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