Our View: Can We Elevate the Discussion Out of the Gutter?

Our View

The escalation must stop.

Blame who you want. Many on the left blame the right and President Trump, exclusively. Many on the right blame liberals, exclusively. Neither side seems capable of recognizing its own role in what has become a complete abdication of civility in our national political discourse.

And what has it come to? Members of the Trump administration can’t even go out to dinner with their families without being harassed or refused service. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was recently forced to leave a Mexican restaurant in Washington, D.C., after protesters descended upon the restaurant, shouting “shame!”

About a week later, the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, made national headlines after its owner refused to serve White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family (after they had already ordered). In retaliation, supporters of Sanders staged a protest in which a man dumped chicken feces on the sidewalk outside the Red Hen.

There is, apparently, no room for disagreement anymore.

The left, unable to accept the reality of the 2016 election results, declared a rhetorical war that has escalated over the ensuing two years, to the point where we have Hollywood celebrities advocating violent protest, including Peter Fonda, who suggested that Trump’s son Barron be snatched from his mother and placed in a cage with pedophiles. Fonda was roundly applauded for it by his friends on the left.

So much for those halcyon days when public officials’ families, particularly children, were considered off limits. Nothing is sacred anymore.

It’s ironic that some of those who most vehemently preach tolerance are among the least tolerant of others’ political views. If you don’t march in lock-step with their beliefs and positions, you are branded a xenophobe, a racist, a homophobe, a bigot, a fascist.

Some have even branded Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and Border Patrol agents as nothing short of Nazis. That’s especially ironic because those on the far left are, themselves, employing the same tactics Hitler’s brownshirts employed to divide, intimidate and marginalize their opponents.

We even have a member of Congress, Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, advocating such behavior, calling for the confrontation and harassment of Trump administration officials in public places — and being applauded for it. Demonstrators have taken it a step further, confronting administration officials at their homes.

Then, in response, and just as objectionably, Waters reports she has received death threats that are being taken seriously, to the point where she has canceled public appearances.

Frightening stuff, indeed. Where will it stop? And if it doesn’t, how much worse will it get? Are we already too far down the slippery slope?

We hope not. And we will strive to stop the slide right here.

Last week we published an editorial on the illegal immigration issue, taking the position that illegal immigrants themselves need to be held responsible for the impacts their decisions have on their children. Predictably, we received several letters to the editor disagreeing with our position. A couple of those responses missed our point, and even interpreted the editorial as saying something it did not. (For example, we never advocated for the separation of families, yet some. respondents accused us of doing just that.)

But that’s OK. We are publishing every one of those responses because we believe there should be room for disagreement, we should respect those who disagree with us, and our role as a community newspaper includes an obligation to provide a forum for all views. We suspect it’s not the last time some of our more liberal readers will disagree with us, and that’s OK, too.

The issues that face our nation stir deep emotional responses on both sides of each argument. But, even if we don’t see eye to eye on an issue, we should strive to understand each other better — and elevate the discussion from the gutter.

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