While quietly reading my political book in a doctor’s office a few days ago during my elderly friend’s appointment, an older man came up to me and commented on the button reading “Tweet People With Respect” which I had pinned to my jacket.
Usually the button evokes smiles of recognition and appreciation, but this man questioned why I, or anyone, wouldn’t “Tweet People With Respect,” and wondered what the point of the button was. I replied that I wished that our Commander in Chief would follow this precept, and the man protested that the President always “Tweeted” everyone with the utmost respect.
Not wanting to get into a debate, which wouldn’t be appreciated by the number of other patients and caregivers in the small waiting room, I said nothing more, but the man persisted in berating me, and I made what was in hind sight an intemperate remark about the corruption of the current administration. He then launched into a heated defense of the President who he viewed as being “politically incorrect,” and refreshingly so, and that “political correctness” was what he had escaped from when he left the USSR in 1980. Before I could question him about his views on the Putin connection with the current administration, he was summoned for his own appointment and I and the other folks in the waiting room breathed a sigh of relief.
A few minutes later, however, he reappeared and endeavored to resume the discussion, which I declined, which prompted a remark that challenged my courage to debate, which I couldn’t let stand. After another few minutes of increasingly loud exchanges, much to the attentive amusement of the people in the now crowded waiting room, I stood up and escorted the man to the adjoining hallway where he continued to sing the President’s praises, and averred that his own opinion of Putin was in the process of evaluation. As this point my friend appeared and the conversation was mercifully brought to a conclusion, but it has continued in my mind ever since.
Why, I ask myself, does a person who escaped a totalitarian and authoritarian and corrupt regime, and who has come to this country where he hoped for freedom of choice about how to live his life - why does he so ardently support a man who embraces falsehoods, and disrespect, and authoritarian practices and ideas?
As is so often when faced with an argument so absurd as to be unbelievable, the right words come much later and on reflection. I should have asked him if there was anything that he disagreed with the President on - anything at all? Perhaps he would have said that the President wasn’t being tough enough.
I know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion (but not their own facts as Daniel Patrick Moynihan so brilliantly stated so many years ago), and that in this country we have the freedom to express these opinions, a freedom which is cherished by Left and Right alike. But where do these opinions gain their credence but from media spokespeople who have no principles and feel no responsibility to respect the Truth.
“Tweeting People With Respect” doesn’t just mean not insulting them, but also means not deceiving them and not selling them with a bill of goods of dubious and outright dangerous value. “Tweeting People With Respect” means not spreading fear to spur gun sales. It means not trying to make it harder for people to vote. It means honoring Treaties and allies. It means protecting the environment. It means treating Democracy with Respect.
Joe Sundeen, Lower Makefield