By Emma Kaden
Ever since Donald Trump unexpectedly won the 2016 presidential election, he and his supporters have been bombarded with excessive insults and unjustified harassment. Unfortunately, these unprecedented acts of vitriol are becoming all too commonplace, especially after the family separation controversy at the southern border became front and center in the political dialogue.
For example, imagine you are out at a restaurant, enjoying your meal, when all of a sudden you are interrupted by shouting, cursing, accusations and harassment. Unfortunately, several Trump administration officials have been on the receiving of such intrusive behavior.
Recently, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was told to leave the Red Hen, a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, because of her position in the Trump administration. A similar incident occurred when Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was confronted by protesters at a Mexican restaurant. Stephen Miller, senior policy advisor to President Trump, was also heckled while dining (coincidentally, at another Mexican restaurant). Perhaps most unnerving was the recent tweet by actor Peter Fonda: “We should rip Barron Trump from his mother’s arms and put him in a cage with pedophiles and see if mother will stand up against the giant [expletive] she is married to.” (The tweet was written in all caps, in case you were wondering.)
Is this what civil discourse in the United States has devolved into? Has polite discussion of politics given way to harassment of political figures? Has civil debate gone the way of the dinosaurs? Traditionally, American political differences were resolved through discussion and debate, not debasing and degrading. Historically, citizens have acted on their political concerns by writing letters to public officials, taking part in petitions, raising funds, and holding peaceful rallies. However, it seems as though these time-honored methods have been abandoned. Thanks to social media, it is now much easier to contact representatives or people in positions of political power. However, it is also much easier to be disrespectful to those with opposing views, while hiding behind a screen.
Perhaps we all ought to consider dialing it back a bit. Some might say that the severity of the situation at the border necessitates harassment of political figures, but it’s important to understand that these are humans, with thoughts and feelings, who wish to have a life outside of their political endeavors. As the old saying goes, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” No one is asking you to love a politician you disagree with, but you don’t have to attack them, either. Maybe if we were all a little kinder to begin with, this situation wouldn’t have escalated the way it has. All we can do going forward, however, is learn from our mistakes, and treat each other with respect and dignity going forward.