We Have a Crisis of Democracy, Not Manners
Written by WPVR on June 25, 2018
Last year, the white nationalist Richard Spencer was kicked out of his Virginia gym after another member confronted him and called him a Nazi. This incident did not generate a national round of hand-wringing about the death of tolerance, perhaps because most people tacitly agree that it’s O.K. to shun professional racists.
It’s a little more complicated when the professional racist is the president of the United States. The norms of our political life require a degree of bipartisan forbearance. But treating members of Donald Trump’s administration as ordinary public officials rather than pariahs does more to normalize bigotry than exercising alongside a white separatist.
Over the last week, several Trump administration officials and supporters have been publicly shamed. On Friday night, the Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a farm-to-table restaurant in Lexington, Va. That morning, protesters blasted a recording of sobbing migrant kids outside the home of Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump’s secretary of homeland security.
A few days before that, Nielsen left an upscale Mexican restaurant near the White House after protesters confronted her, chanting, “If kids don’t eat in peace, you don’t eat in peace!” The Trump adviser Stephen Miller was also yelled at in a Mexican restaurant — someone called him a fascist, though he may not regard that as an insult. The same night that Sanders was denied service, Pam Bondi, Florida’s Trump-supporting attorney general, was heckled outside a movie theater where she’d gone to see a documentary about Mister Rogers. Adding to the furor, Representative Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, urged people to keep jeering at members of Trump’s cabinet when they’re out and about, saying, “You tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”