Unless you have been ignoring the news, you have heard about the owner of the Red Hen Restaurant kicking out Trump’s press secretary. The owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, said this in defending her actions:
“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation, I have a business, and I want the business to thrive…This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”
Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California was also in the news. She called on supporters to publicly confront and harass members of the Trump administration over its’ ‘zero tolerance’ and family separation policies on our southern borders.
Our eloquent president then attacked Wilkenson and Waters, namely Waters’ intellect and Wilkenson’s establishment.
Following these incidents, there has been a call for ‘civility’ on most of the national news talk shows. This call comes despite countless incidents of our president criticizing and “kicking out” those who disagree with him. People have begun asking who the worst offender is and where our nation’s ‘lack of civility’ began.
Despite my profound disagreement with the actions of both ladies in question, my strongest criticism goes to the president and his press secretary, because they have set the tone. Our leaders throughout the government, and especially in the executive branch, are supposed to set an example, but much of what we have seen has been rudeness, unsupported “facts,” and (dare I say) bullying of politicians and the press.
For me, “civility” includes not only chivalry but also compassion, which the administration has been governing without. Banning Muslims from traveling to our country and separating Hispanic children from their parents displays a lack of civility to both said immigrants and to governments worldwide that work with us. In setting a tone for nastiness, our president and his staff bring this type of behavior back on themselves. Until the president governs and speaks to his critics in a civil manner, there is little hope that his critics should respond with kindness and respect. The office of president may command respect, but the person who holds it must earn respect and civility and set an example for the rest of us, especially our children. We are taught as children to follow the example of authority figures; how am I supposed to explain this president’s behavior to my grandchildren?
Sarah Huckabee Sanders had this to say in response to her restaurant eviction:
“Her [Wilkenson] actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully, and will continue to do so.”
I believe that many citizens, like myself, would say Ms. Sanders’ press conferences don’t echo this statement. While I respect that there are pressures inherent to her position and that she must reflect the president’s agenda, there is a way to do so with honesty and integrity. She has cut critics off and consistently attacked the media, particularly those from MSNBC and CNN, accusing them of ‘obfuscating facts intentionally and maliciously.’ She has also blatantly defended confirmed lies told by the administration as well as the president’s border policies. In my opinion, she may need to convey the policies, but she need not go out of her way to defend them.
My advice to all of the people I have referred to in this post is to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We cannot set precedents for harassing our leaders, Ms. Waters and Ms. Wilkenson, but we must also end precedents for harassing those we lead, Ms. Sanders and Mr. Trump.
I sincerely hope you can all keep that in mind going forward.