Uncivil discourse

So, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant in Virginia because of her work as official mouthpiece for President Donald Trump. Members of the restaurant staff, including some who are gay, felt uncomfortable having her there, and the manager said, “What do you want me to do? I can ask her to leave.” So she asked, and Huckabee quietly left, tweeting about the experience later.

At least Sanders didn’t get the treatment that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen received when she tried to have dinner at a D.C. Mexican restaurant. She was heckled by a crowd shouting “Shame! Shame! Shame!” after defending the president’s zero tolerance policy on the southern border.

It is sad that administration officials can’t go out in public and have a peaceful dinner like everyone else. But civil discourse has become a lot less civil recently, and the Trump administration has played a major role in making it so. The president’s recent rally in Duluth is an example.

He had a great time revving up the crowd, urging them to turn around and boo the media who were there to cover the event, eliciting chants of “Build The Wall” and “Lock Her Up!” Someone who dared to protest at his rally was surrounded threatening supporters until security hustled them out as Trump yelled “Get ’em outta here!” from the podium. Later he asked the crowd, “Is there anything more fun than a Trump rally?”

Trump uses his Twitter account to insult and belittle his critics and his political enemies. He hangs insulting, juvenile nicknames on those he doesn’t like. And he has criticized the restaurant that asked Sanders to leave, saying that it is probably unsanitary inside anyway.

We are not trying to excuse the bad behavior of the restaurant staff and owner in Virginia. When the staff asked, “What should we do?” about Sanders expecting service in their restaurant, the owner should have said, “We are in the business of serving food to people. You will serve that family with the same respect and professionalism you would show to any customer. If you don’t feel you can do that, there’s the door. Nobody’s making you work here.”

At the same time, the Trump administration, starting with the man at the top, needs to stop acting like it’s recess time on the playground and stop picking on people they don’t like.

You can’t have it both ways. Either we all start to treat each other with respect, or we let the trash-talking take its course.

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