Incivility. It is a word that tripped off the lips and pens of liberal commentators great and small after the deadly 2011 shootings in Tucson that ended the political career of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. One of the most vocal critics of the right’s incivility in word and deed was The New York Times, which ran more than one finger-wagging editorial and found column inches for more of the same from its opinion columnists.
So what ever happened to the left’s j’accuse campaign? It was buried under an avalanche of its own shameless and uncivilized behavior that ranged from death threats to candidate Mitt Romney leading up to last November’s election to tweets of ‘F**k white people’ in response to Obama’s victory.
I hope the president turns down the Keystone XL oil pipeline. (Who wants the U.S. to facilitate the dirtiest extraction of the dirtiest crude from tar sands in Canada’s far north?) But I don’t think he will. So I hope that Bill McKibben and his 350.org coalition go crazy. I’m talking chain-themselves-to-the-White-House-fence-stop-traffic-at-the-Capitol kind of crazy, because I think if we all make enough noise about this, we might be able to trade a lousy Keystone pipeline for some really good systemic responses to climate change. We don’t get such an opportunity often — namely, a second-term Democratic president who is under heavy pressure to approve a pipeline to create some jobs but who also has a green base that he can’t ignore. So cue up the protests, and pay no attention to people counseling rational and mature behavior. We need the president to be able to say to the G.O.P. oil lobby, ‘I’m going to approve this, but it will kill me with my base. Sasha and Malia won’t even be talking to me, so I’ve got to get something really big in return.’ [Emphasis added]
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So who’s the author of this call for incivility? The answer is Thomas Friedman. And who does Friedman write for? The New York Times, of course.
Never mind whether there is any validity to Friedman’s concerns about climate change or his use of superlatives to overhype his point (“dirtiest extraction of the dirtiest crude”). Focus instead on the tone of his call to arms, or the fact that it is a call to arms. “Rational and mature behavior” be damned, he advises.
It’s almost as though Friedman is painting crosshairs on the Keystone pipeline project.
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