Apparently when Barack Obama made a publicly televised plea for “a more civil and honest public discourse” in the wake of the Tuscon shootings in 2011, it was the white blood in him speaking. That’s the only logical conclusion one can draw from a decidedly cutesy albeit hostile tweet posted Monday by Ashley Nicole Black, a writer for “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” that dismisses civility as “a tool of white supremacy.”
“Oh hello. I didn’t see you there!” Black wrote. “Civility is a tool of white supremacy. Ok, cool. Byeeeeee!”
Oh hello. I didn’t see you there! Civility is a tool of white supremacy. Ok, cool. Byeeeeee!
— Ashley Nicole Black (@ashleyn1cole) June 25, 2018
How exactly civility is a “white” thing Black doesn’t say, though outwardly her observation would appear to cast black people in a negative light.
It’s not just black writers who are down on civility. On Saturday, The New Republic’s Jeet Heer tweeted:
We're really having a debate on whether we have to be civil to people who tear babies & children away from their parents, leading to incalculable trauma? Fuck civility.
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) June 24, 2018
Other voices on the Left have followed suit in the all-out war on civility. On Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn penned a column titled “The case against civility in the battle against Trump.” After the opening salvo, which reads “Sorry, no, I won’t suffer lectures about civility from members of a party led by a swaggering, unrepentant bully who relentlessly attacks his detractors with schoolyard insults,” Zorn provides the prime mover for the Left’s rejection of civility:
Trump and his enablers recently took hostage thousands of immigrant and refugee children as a gambit in their hate-fueled effort to secure tens of billions of dollars for an unnecessary border wall and rile up their voting base.
Although no one’s said it recently, in January the Washington Post published an op-ed titled “The Obamas were a master class in dignity and civility. Did we learn what they taught?” The article goes on to answer that rhetorical question in the negative even though the author, Petula Dvorak, cites examples of Obama policy that Donald Trump has threatened to overturn, not of civil behavior. In fact, she seems to go to lengths to avoid mentioning instances of Obama’s incivility, such as when he urged a crowd of Latinos to “punish our enemies at the voting booth,” which many commentators have claimed he did via the IRS targeting of conservative groups.
Defenders of Obama will argue that he was never as crass as Trump, which is arguably true, though the difference is one of degree, not substance. When he mocked Republicans for calling for more stringent border security measures in 2011, quipping to supporters, “[T]hey’ll want a higher fence. Maybe they’ll need a moat,” he was behaving in an uncivil manner. Anyone who fails to acknowledge that reality is just lying to himself.