I’m writing this on National Civility Day, July 12, as proposed by a bunch of Congressmen concerned with how we need to stop talking ugly to each other and come together as a nation.
Seriously, doesn’t Congress have enough to do (collapsing health care, Russiagate, terrorism, looming debt crisis, stopping the epidemic of overpriced juice bars, etc.) without scolding us about our nation’s collective saltiness? I never thought I’d find common ground with Mitch McConnell but wonders never cease. Last week, McConnell took a brief break from plotting how to take away Meemaw’s nursing home Medicaid and ending health screenings for poor kids, to point out that at least politicians aren’t killing each other and challenging one another to duels like they did back in the day.
Mitch is right about this. And nothing else. Anyone who saw “Lincoln” can’t forget Republican Congressman Thaddeus Stevens who, while arguing against slavery, referred to an opponent as “more reptile than man,” adding, “How can I hold that all men are created equal when there before me stands stinking the moral carcass of the gentleman from Ohio?” That’s what I’m talkin' about.
Like Mitch said, it could be worse. Incivility is nothing new; it’s just our vocabularies have shrunk like a steroid junkie’s Triscuit. Thanks Obama.
The “brains” behind National Civility Day is Rep. Charlie Crist of Florida. I know what you’re thinking: This isn’t surprising as Florida is the most civil state of them all. No? Maybe you were thinking something more on the order of: How is it possible that every single person at Disney World needs a motorized scooter? Fat is NOT a disease. Yeah. That last one is more likely. Charity begins at home, Chuck. If you want to make the world more civil, start at Disney and see how civil YOU can be when some triflin' heifer breaks in line after you’ve invested a solid 90 minutes waiting for Toy Story Mania. Hmmmm?
So here I sit on National Civility Day trying without success to be more civil. Maybe it’s just that it doesn’t seem like a real holiday unless you have a Monday off, the likker store is closed and there’s a big sale on mattresses and patio furniture.
From where I sit, civility is overrated. These are not times for civil discourse with raised pinkies whilst sipping tea. No, no. These are times for rabble-rousing and resisting, and hell-raising. This doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about it. This week’s mail included a long rant of an unsigned missive that addressed me as “a bitter old liberal lesbian.” While off-putting in its rude tone, I have to admit the description was 75 percent correct.
I can take it because it means I’m speaking my truth and truth can be a messy, highly uncivil business.
I guess what I’m saying is, on this most special of days as decreed by a dysfunctional Congress that should be more concerned with important matters, “Who’s the snowflake now?”
The writer is a NYT-bestselling author and humor columnist who frequently writes about politics.