Honored Social Butterfly

If Donald Trump wants civility,

Message 51 of 51


If Donald Trump wants civility, why does he trash political correctness?




The ejection of Sarah Huckabee Sanders from a Virginia restaurant, by staff unhappy at her role as Donald Trump’s spokeswoman, has crystallised an American crisis: not quite a civil war but a civility war. According to the Trump administration, an epidemic of bad manners, mockery and profanity has taken over its opponents.


Disparate incidents of opposition to Trump and his regime – including barbs by TV comedians – are being collapsed into a single story: a pouty, entitled and bad-loser left is abandoning civility, and in doing so inciting hatred and violence. Some of this hyperbole about a crisis of manners is cynical political point-scoring. But much of the rest shows a blindness to the fact that the sort of civility being mourned – the kind that meant politicians could go about their business without fear of abuse from the public or the president – broadly did exist before Trump hit the campaign trail and began beating the drum of misogyny, racism and hatred of the press. It was called political correctness, and Trump supporters didn’t like it.


In fact, Trump made opposition to it one of his flagship election policies – no more being nice to people just for the sake of it. During the first debate of the Republican primaries, Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Trump how he would answer the charge that he was “part of the war on women” (he had called women he didn’t like “fat pigs”, “dogs”, “slobs”, and “disgusting animals”, and had told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a “pretty picture to see her on her knees”). “I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct,” Trump answered, to audience applause. “I’ve been challenged by so many people, I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.”


And the country, the part of it that voted for him and continues to support him, concurred. It does not have time for a political correctness that prevents men from calling women dogs, from mocking disabled people, from insulting those they disagree with as having a low IQ. The end of civility was what Trump promised, and what his voters had wanted for a long time. Trump’s country has no time for sympathy for families separated from their children, if it stops migrants smeared as rapists, drugs dealers and murderersgetting into the country; it has no time for the victims of school shootings if it means curbing the right to gun ownership; it has no time for a free press if it means having to be presented with facts that counter its claims.


And yet, the response to this promised vandalism of manners, decay of tone and disregard for human life has sent Trump and his supporters into a swoon of offence. A text message sent to Trump voters last week asked for financial support because it was “time for civility”, and time to “show the left we won’t be intimidated”


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