To begin, let me say straight out that Rep. Maxine Waters is wrong to escalate the war of ignorance with President Donald Trump and those in his employ.
I understand the pain that Rep. Maxine Waters feels as a longtime Democratic lawmaker in a Trump era Republican controlled Congress that is rubber stamping everything this president is doing to erode confidence in our representative republic. After a week in which Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary Kierstjen Nielsen was shouted out of a Mexican restaurant by protesters who were righteously apoplectic about her denial of the Trump administration’s clear-cut policy of separating the children of illegal immigrants from their families, the same week that Trump Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Northern Virginia because the owner objects to Sanders and her boss on “moral grounds,” one can understand why Waters would advocate such an approach.
(Secretary Nielsen, the blond woman in the back, being shouted down with chants of “shame” last week at a Mexican restaurant)
Still, I cannot support the concluding position that Waters took at a rally this past weekend: “I have no sympathy for these people that are in this administration who know it is wrong what they’re doing on so many fronts but they tend to not want to confront this president. For these members of his cabinet who remain and try to defend him they’re not going to be able to go to a restaurant, they’re not going to be able to stop at a gas station, they’re not going to be able to shop at a department store, the people are going to turn on them, they’re going to protest, they’re going to absolutely harass them until they decide that they’re going to tell the president ‘no I can’t hang with you, this is wrong this is unconscionable and we can’t keep doing this to children.”
Again, I feel Rep. Waters’s pain…there is something perverse that the same woman (Sanders) who defended the recent US Supreme Court decision that allows bakers and restaurateurs to withhold service from gays and lesbians on religious grounds, now cries “foul” when a restaurateur chooses not to serve the Sanders party. But those who choose the path that Waters lays out will do so at their own risk; the problem is that such a war of words cannot be won without the distinct possibility of violence and chaos.
Make no mistake, the Trump administration is doing its level best to erode core constitutional principles all the while stoking the ill-mannered and ill-educated among their base to act like the fools that many are at any given moment. Trump and his minions have attacked free speech per the First Amendment by calling NFL players peacefully protesting police brutality by kneeling during the National Anthem “ungrateful sons of bitches” to the raucous applause of fools. The Trump administration has attacked journalists and journalism with a vigor more akin to Fascist or Communist states–not THE supposed leading democracy in the world. The Trump administration has applauded police officers who “rough up” citizens suspected of crimes and shown tacit approval of times when those encounters turn deadly.
(Trump Troglodytes circa 2016)
Just this past weekend, Trump called for the suspension of due process rights and the immediate deportation of suspected illegals, a position that is frightening for millions of American citizens with darker skin or thick foreign accents who, if they happen to be at a market or pulled over without their driver’s license or passport, may find themselves rounded up by ICE officials who “suspect” that they are illegal because the way that they sound and look.
So it is easy to understand Rep. Waters’s anger, because it is an anger that many of us have felt at some point when racist, sexist, or religious bigotry is expressed by Trump, his minions and his followers.
Still, as former First Lady Michelle Obama famously quipped, the best response remains “when they go low, we go high.” Trust, I understand the desire to switch that to “when they go low, go even lower.” I have never been one to shy away from a good scrap be it a debate, a case in the court of law, and even fisticuffs when I have been physically attacked (like that time a white guy got in my face and called me a nigger after court–his jaw was cracked for such ignorant insolence).
But the last point, the fisticuffs I once engaged in when my personal circumference was violated and I was called a racial slur, is one reason why I think that what Waters wants could lead to devastating results for righteous protesters. Meaning, righteous protesters, particularly those of color, could find themselves shot by “frightened” public officials or their armed security details who are “standing their ground.”
More crucially, I, like many of you, was taught never to get into a debate with stupid people “because they drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” This admonition still holds true in many ways, and the best rebuttal to those who are actively supporting the radical transformation of our laws, changes desired because let’s face it, some conservative whites truly fear becoming a minority race in what they consider to be THEIR America, is for those of all races of good conscience to vote, register others to vote, educate potential voters about the key political issues of our day, and if so moved, run for office yourself.
Lest we forget that the Trump Republican Party did not take control of America through violence, rather, they mobilized their base starting with the Tea Party Movement in 2010 and systematically built the advantage they now enjoy. Democrats and progressives would be well served to focus on doing the same–not shouting down and trying to out-fool the fools on the right.