One of the key themes of End of Discussion was identifying and combating the unhealthy impulse to succumb to the 'politicized life,' in which virtually every aspect of American civil society is poisoned by toxic partisanship. This is an increasing problem on the Right (see the president's agitation on anthem protests, as just one illustration), but the culture war aggressors over recent years have tended skew heavily toward the activist Left. Within the last few weeks, several explosive manifestations of this phenomenon have risen to national prominence, causing many Americans to despair that our culture is coming apart. These concerns are not groundless.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant on Saturday after management decided they did not want to serve her party, explicitly because of her work on behalf of the president. Setting aside the question of whether some on the Left are changing their tune on conscience-based denials of service based on the target's politics, are we getting to a point where dug-in tribalism will dictate whether public figures are allowed to live their private lives in relative peace? Also recall the DHS Secretary being driven from her dinner table in Washington last week by chanting agitators (who also accosted her at her family's home), and Florida's Attorney General being chased out of a movie theater. Is this where we're headed? That will not end well. For anyone. I broadly agree with these sentiments:
Red Hen has a right to refuse service.— David French (@DavidAFrench) June 23, 2018
Sarah Huckabee Sanders has a right to complain.
Potential customers have a right to make their own decisions.
I have a right to try to persuade people to stop politicizing everything.
Freedom is easy to figure out-hard to execute.
Businesses and individuals have the right to act like politicized brutes, but is it the right thing to do? Is virtue signaling a higher ideal than treating people politely? Are we supposed to celebrate a celebrity who denies a photograph to a politician he opposes, then publicly brags about it, to cheers from his fellow tribesmen? Conservatives aren't the only ones disturbed by these trends:
Kind of amazed and appalled by the number of folks on Left who applauded the expulsion of @PressSec and her family from a restaurant.— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) June 24, 2018
This, in the end, is a triumph for @realDonaldTrump vision of America:
Now we’re divided by red plates & blue plates!#sad
Unmoved by such appeals, here are self-stylized antifascists advocating mob action to shut down a media organization they don't like -- a sentiment amplified by the former Communications Director of the White House under President Obama (whose boorish, slow-witted approach to politics is well established):
Meanwhile, the creator and CEO of Twitter (with whom I recently met) was publicly criticized and shamed for 'boosting' Chick-fil-A during LGBT pride month. Activists have targeted and harassed the popular fast food company for years, due to its founders' orthodox religious views -- including opposition to same-sex marriage. 'Progressive' politicians, student groups and individuals have sought to make Chick-fil-A synonymous with bigotry, attempting (and largely failing) to turn the purchase and consumption of delicious fried chicken products into a political act. But their megaphone is loud, and in the face of an angry Twitter mob, Twitter's leader climbed down. It's all so exhausting. Then, over the weekend, Rep. Maxine Waters -- chieftain of the impeachment brigade -- channeled the no-holds-barred id of the "no justice, no peace" Left, urging her comrades to bully and harass any senior member of the Trump administration they may encounter through direct agitation:
Maxine Waters calls for attacks on Trump administration: "If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere." pic.twitter.com/jMV7wk48wM— Ryan Saavedra ???? (@RealSaavedra) June 24, 2018
"God is on our side" is always a fairly alarming assertion coming from a political demagogue. Here's a Yale professor endorsing such tactics:
What goes around, comes around Senator. These are justifiable expressions of civil disobedience against heinous actors. At some point you need to take a stand.— (((Howard Forman))) (@thehowie) June 25, 2018
Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have both rebuked Waters, and have been excoriated by the hard Left for their trouble. Advocating violence is appalling, and I said so when Trump was doing it. And while the potential actions of deranged people should not limit our discourse, dehumanization and demonization can sometimes contribute to horrific events. Decent people from across the ideological spectrum must fight to ensure that this attitude, and similar bigotries, do not become the 'new normal' of American politics. As our differences mutate into a soul-crushing form of total, all-consuming culture war, it feels more and more like we are destroying ourselves. Our republic will fail if we hate one another more than we oppose our actual enemies. Please consider these two similar observations, which describe a real dynamic: The excesses of Trump's opponents redound to the benefit of...Trump. Hyper-partisans are hurting both the country writ large and, at least to some extent, their own cause. I'll leave you with this hilarious skewering of weaponized, fun-sapping, life-ruining wokeness, via the BBC (content warning):
When you so woke, you asleep. ?? pic.twitter.com/USEgKWPExM— BBC Comedy (@bbccomedy) June 22, 2018