George Tiller was a Kansas doctor who was the medical director of Women’s Healthcare Services in Wichita. Tiller’s medical practice was one of only three in the nation that performed late-term abortions, which were done in the instance of severe or fatal birth defects or for the health of the mother. Dr. Tiller was for all intents and purposes a relatively normal Kansas man, he was married, he had four children, and he was active in his church. Yet his career was marked by abnormality as he was targeted by anti-choice groups, his practice was fire bombed, he received death threats at his home, and he was even shot five times by a woman who had been harassing Tiller for 5 years. It might’ve been bad enough if Tiller just faced hostility at home, but Tiller was the subject of 28 separate segments of disgraced former Fox host Bill O’Reilly’s show The O’Reilly Factor. On that program, which had a national audience in the millions, Dr. Tiller was “Tiller the Baby Killer” and “a savage on the loose, killing babies willy-nilly”. In 2009 Dr. George Tiller was murdered, shot in the head, during worship services at his church. Where were his calls for civility?
Gabrielle Giffords was a US congresswoman representing Arizona’s 8th district. Giffords represented a district that had been a frequent target of Republicans, but her moderate image prevented them from taking her seat even in the Tea Party wave of 2010. Giffords supported stem-cell research, raising the minimum wage, and the Affordable Care Act, which drew the ire of conservatives in spite of her support of stronger immigration laws. Failed governor and GOP vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s Super Pac had a website with a map of competitive congressional districts and Gifford’s district as well as others were depicted in the middle of a gun’s cross-hairs. Giffords complained about the imagery because as she saw it “there are consequences to that action”. In 2011 Giffords was shot during a meet-and-greet with her constituents, she survived but 6 people did not, including a 9-year-old girl named Christina-Taylor Green. Where were their calls for civility?
Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck were police officers in Las Vegas. Soldo was a dedicated public servant who drove from Nebraska to Las Vegas to interview for his job. He was a husband, and he was a father of a baby boy. Beck was a senior patrol officer who had served since 2001 and was also a husband and father. In 2014, conservative media intensely covered the Bundy standoff and lauded the ranchers and their supporters as something like folk heroes. Bundy of course was a tax evading racist who didn’t recognize the legitimacy of the Federal Government and his supporters aimed their rifles at police officers. These facts were not relevant to the Limbaughs and Hannitys who were focused only on framing yet another argument about a how America was drifting into Marxism under President Obama. There was a couple present at the Bundy standoff who happened to live in Las Vegas and also apparently felt emboldened by their popular support among some conservatives for standing up to the federal government. They recorded videos asking for ammunitions and detailing their hatred of government but more specifically, President Obama’s government. In July of 2014, Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck were murdered by that extremist couple and their bodies were draped with the Gadsden flag and a swastika. Where were their calls for civility?
We don’t have to talk about Donald Trump’s call for protesters to be beaten up on the campaign trail. We don’t have to talk about that time Donald Trump implied that Hillary Clinton should be shot by “second amendment people”. We don’t have to talk about Donald Trump’s embrace of nicknames, awful conspiracy theorists, and the almost propaganda like assistance he’s received from Fox News. Because Donald Trump isn’t the cause of our “lack of civility” and conservatives don’t really care about civility. If they did, we’d have heard about it before now.
Conservatives don’t like to be inconvenienced when they go out to eat, they don’t like being shamed by their friends for supporting a morally bankrupt administration, and they don’t like being held accountable. They don’t care about the political discourse which was debased long before Trump descended down his golden escalator and called Mexicans rapists. Their argument for civility isn’t about our democracy or protecting institutions, it’s about making the internment of children or the rollback of civil rights a matter of “debate” instead of “right and wrong”. It’s about accepting objectively terrible things and legitimizing hateful ideologies because “we’ve got to listen to all sides”.
If we’re going to survive as a country, we can’t keep allowing ourselves to be gaslighted into thinking that our protests to protect democracy are the reasons it’s being degraded. The idea that saying the “F word”, engaging members of OUR GOVERNMENT in public, or restaurants not being comfortable playing host to people complicit in the internment of children is equivalent to actual violence is frankly ridiculous. So, with all due respect, Fuck your civility.