I completely understood his point -- I don't agree with any of it. And in the days since, seeing the profound hypocrisy on the right rise up in faux-tears about "civiiity," and violent actions, I think I disagree with it all the more. Rep. Waters didn't respond "in kind." She didn't say to the crowd that they should be racist and hate-filled and misogynist, as Republicans have tried to paint, but stand up to the members of Trump's cabinet and to "tell them your feelings," that it's not acceptable.
Also, we've seen the far right leaders (most-especially Trump) twist whatever is said to fit their agenda, so even if Maxine Waters had invited all Republican elected officials to a cotillion, they could and (given the experience we've seen for two years) likely would twist that. So, might as well speak openly and bluntly, rather than try to "not offend" them.
I think Trump supporters and the far right in general have been on the defensive for enabling a fascist and been emboldened by him for two years. If they're even more so now (and it's beyond "if" at this point -- in the past week alone we saw the tragic mass killings in Annapolis), then that's all the more reason to make sure one makes clear it's not acceptable. Further, if they're emboldened it's because they see there's no downside to yelling at immigrants on the street and calling the police on black people for no reason.
And Waters' admonition wasn't about shaming Trump supporters, but specifically and merely cabinet officers who carry out Trump fascist policies and think it's okay, because no one says to their face it isn't. And I think *those* people can be publicly shamed. Indeed, a week ago Harvard professor Steven Levitsky, co-author of the book, When Democracies Die, explained during an interview on Sirius/XM that public shamming, like that with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at restaurants, actually does have value.
To be clear, I don't think we're in 1930s Germany. But there are overlaps in terms of the public displays of racism and policies against religion and more. And I just keep envisioning someone back then telling a friend, "No, no, don't push back, it will only anger them. Be civil."
We're dealing with people who haven't been civil for two years, who don't seem to grasp civility. These are people -- the public, elected officials, and cabinet appointees -- following a leader who smeared a war hero, ridiculed a disabled man, slammed a Gold Star family, bragged about sexual abuse, separated children from parents, is putting babies in cages, not reuniting them, spurred hatred of the press as the "enemy of the people," offered to pay the bail of anyone arrested for beating up a protester at the rallies, led chants of "Lock her up!" because "She put us all at risk!" and much more. They have been fighting a culture war since Reagan and now, with a fascist Trump at the top, see an opening. Being civil is not part of their play book. I think all they may grasp is being told "This is not acceptable" bluntly and to their face.
Also, it's critical to recognize that not being "civil" is not the same as being crass and racist and violent and acting in kind. It's being blunt and direct and saying "This is not acceptable" in public. The owners of the Red Hen Cafe are being wrongly-attacked with not being "civil" when all they did was politely in private ask someone to leave and even comped their cheese platter. That may not meet the Cotillion Standard of Civility, but it's polite and thoughtful. Confronting public officials may be less polite, but it can still be done with blunt decency. And given what's being faced, that doesn't seem inherently wrong. Acting with decency is not the same as acting with civility.
Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King acted with civil disobedience. They confronted their abusers, but did so non-violenty, in ways that were ultimately peaceful. But they were vilified at the time, hated, arrested. War protesters in the '60s were violent at times, but mostly peaceful, but helped bring a war to an end. And while all those situations are very different, what is the same is that when you are opposing what I believe is literal fascism, civility is fine in the halls of government and where necessary, but blunt decency should lead the way elsewhere. After all, smiling while getting pummeled on the head with a crowbar loses its charm after a while.
I don't know if everything Maxine Waters said was great. But I do know that she gave a six-minute speech (not a one-minute excerpt) that laid the foundation for her suggesting a decent way to accent peacefully -- not in ways it's intentionally being misinterpreted by the far right (which as I said they'd do whatever she said, since they have long hated her -- an outspoken black woman is such a bother to them...). And in a way to make abundantly clear that abusive, racist, hate-filled intolerance won't be accepted.
I understand if one doesn't don't agree. Fair enough. Disagreement is a normal part of discourse. But I'm a pretty civil, polite guy. And I'm grasping at this point that those on the far right are enabling fascism. And if the response is politely, decently, bluntly confronting it, I understand that, as well. And think I'm okay with it. Because however "the other side" reacts, the way they'd react if you don't politely, decently and bluntly confront it would be -- and is -- far worse. And disastrous.