Oh, Paul Ryan Would Like An Apology From Maxine Waters, Would He?
Paul Ryan is most displeased with the level of incivility in this country. The incivility coming from the left, that is, and more specifically, from Representative Maxine Waters, who he seems to believe went "too far" in her suggestion that if people see Trump administration officials out and about, they start protesting and letting them know they are not welcome. He would like an apology, and would also like to accuse her of saying things that she did not say.
"There is no place for this," Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said a news conference. "She obviously should apologize." He said the comments are "dangerous" for society. "When we, in this democracy, are suggesting that because we disagree with people on political views, on policy views, on philosophical views, that we should resort to violence and harassment and intimidation that's dangerous for our society, dangerous for our democracy, and she should apologize and there's just no place for that in our public discourse," Ryan said.
Let us review, again, Rep. Waters's statement and look for the part where she says anything about being violent:
"If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere."
Now, I don't see anything here about violence. You see anything there about violence? Is Paul Ryan so stupid that he doesn't know about the non-literal meaning of the term "push back?" Is it particularly "civil" to accuse someone of saying something they clearly did not say? I feel like it is not! Perhaps Paul Ryan should apologize to Rep. Waters for being a lying liar. You know, because he loves civility so much.
While he is at it, perhaps he could tell Steve King to apologize for retweeting Nazis, which he has yet to do. He could also apologize for that sickening smirk on his face. In fact, I can think of a number of things Paul Ryan should apologize for that are a hell of a lot worse than Maxine Waters telling people to protest Trump officials.
Let's take a minute, though, and think of some of the very civil ways ways that conservatives and Trump supporters "protest." They "protest" by sending SWAT teams to people's houses -- as they did with David Hogg, because he said mean things about their special guns! They send SWAT teams to women's houses because those women said mean things about their widdle video games. They send seizure-inducing videos to reporters with epilepsy. They run over protesters and murder them. They scream at people for speaking Spanish in public. They bomb abortion clinics. They shoot doctors who perform abortions. They harass women and workers at abortion clinics. They shoot up pizza restaurants because they believe in insane conspiracies. Republican congressional candidates follow trans women into bathrooms with video cameras in order to harass them. I could go on!
Maxine Waters wasn't asking anyone to do any of that. What Maxine Waters was asking for does not even rise to the level of non-violent civil disobedience, because there is nothing civilly disobedient about making Pam Bondi's trip to go see the Mr. Rogers documentary a tad uncomfortable by asking her about all the children being separated from their families. Because we sure as hell ought to live in a world where chanting at someone is a lesser evil than putting children in concentration camps. Hell, we ought to live in a world where police brutality is more offensive than someone kneeling during the national anthem, which by the way is a terrible song to begin with.
If the worst thing that happens to you when you take children away from their parents and throw them in internment camps is that a few people chant at you at a gas station, or that someone doesn't want you at their restaurant, you're doing a lot better than many other people who have tried to pull that kind of shit over the years.
This is all very strategic. Paul Ryan doesn't want people talking about how bad it is to separate children from their parents and throw them in internment camps. He wants people talking about how it was very, very bad of Maxine Waters to be so very mean to the people who created that situation to begin with. It's "Look here, don't look there."
The Right thinks they get to be in an abusive relationship with us. They get to be "politically incorrect," they get to support policies that will take health care away from people, they get to support Muslim bans, they get to go around baselessly accusing people of being in pedophile rings, they get to go around saying horrible and untrue things about Mexican immigrants, they get to elect President Pussygrabber. Alex Jones is allowed to chase Bernie Sanders down in an airport, and GOSH! I never heard a darn word about him being "uncivil." Trump gets to make up childish nicknames for people like a middle school bully that never grew up. They get to do all of these awful things, and then turn around and cry "incivility!" when we raise our voices at them or make them uncomfortable. Which, again, was all Maxine Waters said to do.
Now, Paul Ryan isn't the only one claiming Rep. Waters was wrong to say those things. Nancy Pelosi has also condemned her comments, presumably because she is under the mistaken impression that she will get some kind of credit from the Right for doing that, which she will not, or that they will themselves decide to behave civilly, which really doesn't matter at this point when you consider the "uncivil" shit they're trying to get away with legislatively.
In the crucial months ahead, we must strive to make America beautiful again. Trump's daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable. As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea. https://t.co/vlpqOBLK4R
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) June 25, 2018
Sorry, Nancy, but if we go high when they go low, we'll go so far over their heads that we will miss them entirely. This is not the game we need to be playing here. The traditional rules of war no longer apply.
If a similar thing were to have happened on the Right, we'd hear three things. We'd hear that the person was "just trying to rally their base!"; we'd hear that we hate free speech and the constitution; and we'd hear that we are "silencing" people with political correctness. They would also pretend that the "going low" never even happened, and how dare you accuse them of such a thing, and they'd repeat that bullshit and over again. Like they did with Trump mocking a disabled reporter. Like they do with literally everything awful that comes out of his mouth or his keyboard. That is the game we need to be playing.
Maxine Waters should not apologize (and is not apologizing!), and no one should apologize on her behalf, either.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse