WHEN DID WE LET CRUELTY GO MAINSTREAM ?
KQED’s Marisa Lagos with Representative Adam Schiff, July 21 (Author photo)
“I can’t stand that millions of people hate you,” Eve Schiff said to her husband Adam not long ago. (Yep, Adam & Eve are married.) “You just have to accept it,” Schiff observed.
Why? When did hate become something to “accept and move on (from”) in the once kinder, gentler U.S.?
Not to mention cruelty. When the moderator kept to that topic Schiff told of another episode, something that bothers him a little more: a package came to his DC office containing two bullets; each had the name of one of Schiff’s young children written on it.Is that one more thing we simply accept?
“There’s nothing I can do about it,” Schiff said; “other than to get a new job. The first time I mentioned getting death threats to (former Speaker) Nancy Pelosi she said, ‘Welcome to the club.’” Pelosi knows a little more about this stuff than most of us would like, having had her 83-year-old husband bashed in the head in the middle of the night by a crazed guy who didn’t like her politics. He wanted, actually, to wait for Rep. Pelosi to come home (though she was in DC and crazy guy David DePape was at her San Francisco home) so he could break her kneecaps.
Surely it’s time for us kinder/gentler citizens to stand up for a return to civility. Even at the risk of getting knee-capped.
Decades ago, when my children were growing up (in the pre-internet age,) I was working as a freelance newspaper and magazine writer. I often covered city and county commission meetings or hearings on highly controversial issues. New highways, housing developments, policies that would directly affect communities and citizens alike. I remember more than a few events that came close to fistfights, and one that did get violent before police removed an inebriated objector. This was before anyone had to worry about guns.
I remember people calling other people names, swearing lifelong enmity, vowing to get an opponent removed from office or defeated at the polls.
But cruelty? Death threats? Anonymous messages suggesting terrible things might happen to families and children? Enough already.
Surely it’s time for the majority of us — and I know we are in the majority — to stand up for civility. Confrontation is out, since we have become a culture of guns and one friendly word can get your head blown off.
But we can write letters to editors. We can let those who support cruelty know that it won’t be tolerated. Calls and emails from outside a politician’s district might get tossed aside, but enough of them at least get his or her attention. Calls and emails to your own representatives might not get personal responses, but they get tallied.
We can vote.