Civility in War-Time

Civility in War-Time
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

What a strange moment this is for mounting a defense of civility! The United States has just weathered its most significant violent protest activity in decades, and Americans are in the midst of bitter fights about nearly everything else: politics, sex, religion, law, face masks. Present conditions seem to militate against civil behavior, and many people are eager to point this out.

“Civility is a tool of the oppressor,” observes Anthony Clark on Twitter, that most uncivil of all digital platforms. Writing in The New York Times, Thomas Sugrue asserts that “the path to change is seldom polite.” And this from Hillary Clinton: “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about. That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again.”

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