Thursday, September 25, 2014

What happened to civility, let alone respect?

A friend of mine is spending the fall in Hungary while her husband fulfills a Rhodes teaching fellowship. I'm vicariously enjoying the entire experience with them, including their European tour before settling down in Debrecen. But she wrote last night that she thinks she will have to temporarily unfriend me until they come home. She is dismayed at the vituperative nature of some comments on my posts and, feeling that she and her husband are representing the United States, doesn't want her Hungarian friends to see how crass and disrespectful some Americans are toward their president.
I know what she's talking about. Recently a photographer caught Michelle Obama in an unguarded moment, playing with some children, with a expression on her face that mixed mock surprise and horror. It was spontaneous and the kids probably loved it, but it was not the most charming picture of our First Lady. Some of the comments were so mean and in such poor taste that I was moved to comment--and the vile comments continued about how ugly she is.
Now the "coffee cup salute" has gone viral on the Web and shown up on TV. I agree--the President should have handed the cup to an aide and saluted properly, but I don't think it's calls for such responses as "He's an ass" to "Don't insult an ass that way." It's turned out to be a tempest in a teapot since there is slight history of the presidential salute (President Reagan started it) and there's a funny picture of George W. Bush trying to salute while holding a dog. All but die-hard critics of the Obamas have dismissed the incident.
But there are those die-hard critics, waiting for one of the presidential couple to make the tiniest mis-step. Come on folks, this is the President and his First Lady, elected twice by a large majority of the American public. In spite of that, he has aroused more hate in a minority than I ever thought possible--and they are loud, crude and rude in expressing that hate. The Ugly American come back to life. Makes me, for one, embarrassed to be an American, especially a Texan.
I said it before in a post but it bears repeating: it's one thing to disagree on politics or policy in a reasonable and polite manner; it's another to attack personally (one person refers to him as a Muslim Marxist, after insisting on calling him the "half-Kenyan" for a long time).
Saddest of all, despite vehement denials, these remarks betray the deep strain of racism that is still strong in our country. Makes me despair!
This has taught me a strong lesson and I'm going to watch my posts more carefully. I have been a little too quick to make a joke or laugh at one--as when Gov. Perry said Juarez was the most dangerous city in Texas. But I hope I've never sunk to using profanity and crude personal attacks. Even so I'll be more careful.
One thing I don't understand: the list of achievements the President has made for this country is impressive: lowering the deficit, lowering the unemployment rate, the Affordable Care Act (hush! it's working in states where it is allowed to). The Republican House on the other hand has offered no credible bills, stalled bills from the Senate, defeated minimum wage increase, equal pay, veterans' benefits. They've been on vacation more than they've worked. Why do people dump on the President for failures in our country? It goes beyond partisanship, though that too is alive and well unfortunately.
Maybe Nancy can just hide my posts so I can still see hers but the lack of class in some Americans won't embarrass her in Hungary.

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