“The U.S. is facing a ‘civility crisis,’ Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch says in his first book since being appointed by President Donald Trump to fill a vacancy that was the focus of an intensely partisan fight.” — Bloomberg News
The U.S. is facing a civility crisis of epic proportions.
I first understood the gravity of the situation when I, Neil Gorsuch, was thrown into the topsy-turvy world of modern-day Supreme Court confirmation battles. I was astonished and appalled by how coarse and boorish people were. “Mitch McConnell held this seat open for more than a year,” they would shout at me like a bunch of uncivilized loons. “He’s broken the law and you’re taking a stolen seat.”
People aren’t tolerant with one another the way they used to be back in the days when 95% of Congress members were wealthy white men. Instead of working out political differences like gentlemen, people insult each other insolently, saying divisive things like, “Stop separating children from their parents” and “Let gay people get married to each other.”
Imagine, just sixty years ago, you could ask a woman who was your wife to fetch your slippers, and there would be no rude rejoinder, and certainly no filthy-mouthed retort!
Once upon a time in America, an op-ed writer for the paper of record could compare a professor to Joseph Goebbels because the professor’s wry and delicate critique hurt the writer’s feelings, and everyone would nod their heads in agreement about civility being so very important because the op-ed columnist’s words were printed in the commanding font of Times New Roman.
When I was a boy, everyone agreed that the Constitution should be interpreted according to its original meaning, particularly as it was written by men who owned slaves and believed women weren’t their equals. Now, unmannerly buffoons want to upend that most ethical of interpretations, just because of a few marginal mass murders.
Traditionally, if you were a Senator, you could block life-saving legislation and never have to explain yourself or admit to taking the dark money that got you elected. Voters would say reverently, “What a beacon of wisdom you are, Sir. Thank you for leading us!”
Those were the days. People used to respect confident men and call us “Sir” on the street, in the hallowed hallways of power and, most importantly, at upfronts.
My new book, A Republic, If You Can Keep It takes its title from a Ben Franklin quote. Everyone knows how civil Ben Franklin was when he owned human beings, and how insufferable he became once he started agitating for change and writing his radical left-wing petitions. Luckily, courteous arguments were put forth such as the primacy of states’ rights, and the Biblical justification for slavery, and the fear of the extinction of the white race, and politeness prevailed. Then Ben died.
In the golden age of civility, black people did not kneel in ill-mannered protest. And when they were rude enough to protest, the FBI would infiltrate their groups, label them communists, and harass them. Everyone was completely pleasant.
The framers of our Constitution believed that the rule of law depends on keeping all three government branches in their proper sphere, and if the man who appointed me decides to blur the borders between those spheres, we owe it to him, as a law-abiding society, to be civil about it.
I remember a time when the President of the United States could be openly racist, and no one would crassly point it out. He could spread false information, and no one was vulgar enough to correct him. He could be deemed a treasonous traitor, and no one was uncouth enough to mention it. Why, he could even rape women without anyone criticizing him for it.
Bring back civility, America, before it’s too late.