For about 20 years now, since this writer came to really understand that there are two basic sides of politics and world viewpoints and that they are not compatible, the struggle with being disappointed when leftists fail to come up to scratch when it comes to acceptable public comportment has been a personal horror show. What follows is a bit of a soapbox and hopefully cathartic as having been raised to be mannerly, the lack of the same from those who consider themselves morally superior is appalling. Not only that, what is really most distressing is that leftists expect to be treated with honor and respect with others going the extra mile to serve them, and yet when the tables are turned, delegate without lifting a finger and do not seek answers to better serve others, even customers.
When it comes to a bottom line, manners are all about not inconveniencing others. This is not manners in the sense of keeping one hand in the lap while raising the correct fork to one’s mouth, but knowing how to treat fellow humans, and how to put self aside when a situation warrants. This is knowing what public behavior is acceptable in all situations, deflecting attention from oneself and not causing aggravation. What these details are have been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. It seems that the left has no use for them, has left them in the dust and cares not a whit for how their actions, words and wants affect others. And, furthermore, how dare we traditional Americans object.
In the past two weeks, twice Barack Obama, Occupier of the White House, has spoken at memorials, and twice he inserted more information about himself, using first person personal pronouns, rather than speaking solely of the deceased during a service to honor those who died. Whether or not one believes in eulogies or public statements at memorials (some of us prefer such comments remain part of an Irish wake), a public funeral or memorial service is about the person or people who have passed from this life to the next, regardless of how it happened. It is not the place to discuss public policy, “lessons” from the passing on of another person, or how the speaker wants to make the world a better place in his or her own image. In each case, traditional Americans brought attention to Mr. Obama’s breach of etiquette, and the leftist social media army laughed through the comments sections of various posts. “THAT’s what you conservatives have to worry about? LOL.” Well, yes, actually. That particular failing speaks to a certain self-centeredness and narcissism. “Never let a possible public appearance go to waste” has no place at a funeral. (God forbid it should happen to them.)
Former President George H. W. Bush is currently in a Houston hospital waging a battle with his respiratory system that he will hopefully win. He is struggling with what many older men do as nature takes its course. Say what one will about Mr. Bush and his policies, good and bad, during his political career, but the man is a decent human being, and by all accounts a beloved father and husband (plus, a true dog person). Once his turn as president was over, like the gentleman he is, Mr. Bush did not insinuate himself in any of his successors’ administrations (save, maybe, his son’s, although according to both of them that was not the case). He kept his distance and counsel unless asked, unlike a couple other southern “gentlemen” presidents who can be named (and happen to be leftist democrats). Most disturbing, though, are the comments from the peanut gallery on various social media sites, where the two words used to describe Mr. Bush for the last twenty-some years are used: “evil” and “hateful.” As much as one may disagree with another, calling a person evil or hateful is just not right, especially if one does not know the individual personally. (All of us have known people in our lives who are honestly evil and/or hateful. If one labels another as such, it would be best to have first hand knowledge and then use the invectives sparingly, even when referring to Valerie Jarrett.)
About the time the “hateful” and “evil” words to describe Mr. Bush became vogue, what the lefties were saying about his wife, Barbara Bush, was even worse (one ignorant leftist student I knew while in college said she had no class compared to Hillary Clinton). Barbara Bush has some pro-feminist stances, and that is a place of disagreement for a lot of us, but she always exhibits proper comportment in public and always presents herself as a lady, something that her immediate successor does not (and had to be reminded to do particularly when she went to the Senate). One story that says it all about Mrs. Clinton (she’s had so many positions, what title do we use for her now?) is that during one particularly contentious fight in the Senate, once she was there, it was getting late and now Vice President Joe Biden noticed that the late Senator Strom Thurmond, who was older than dirt at the time, was visibly wilting. So, because in the Senate, when such debating is going on, it is customary for one member of each party to leave the floor at the same time, Mr. Biden went to the Republican leadership and told them he would leave the floor so they could send Mr. Thurmond to retire for the evening. Joe Biden has his faults and failings, but in this case, he showed manners, and Hillary took him apart for it. Classy, huh?
If the same political rhetoric we are seeing today was introduced more than a couple decades ago, and the public character destruction and assassination started happening long before that (like, around 1964 with Barry Goldwater), it should be no great surprise that the message of denigration and thinking solely of self being acceptable is now instilled in the left at least three generations deep. And that goes for everyday thinking and respect of others, too. Many of us conservatives rail about “road rage” and being cut off while driving. Everywhere we go, including the movies, cell phones and personal conversations disrupt us. Churches actually have to post signs to remind those visiting or in attendance that hats are not to be worn indoors (and to turn off the cell phones and to please dress appropriately). Go to any first class museum and note that suddenly there are lines of tape on the floor indicating how close one may stand to art. (Signs have been posted at zoos for some time to not throw anything into the animals’ enclosures.) Knowing how to behave in public in all these situations is something that is passed down as part of good parenting (at least it was in my house). That conservative parents raise children who respect others and their property enough not to inconvenience them or insult them without cause is a tradition to be revered not one to discard as the left has so blatantly done. (Knowing the particulars of what is acceptable in museums and cultural institutions is more detailed, but still learned behavior. No photography, check coats and large bags, etc. Speak in a quiet tone of voice. That is all standard for museums world-wide, actually.)
All this was brought to the surface a couple days ago as the boss at my place of employment – a non-profit serving other non-profits – happened to be sitting at the reception desk when a client agency’s representative asked for a document and the boss said, “I’m sorry, but so and so is not here today. You’ll need to come back next week,” rather than, “Let me see if I can get an answer for you,” as this boss would have expected if she were doing the asking. And it wasn’t simply what she said, but the tone of voice, as if she did not have time for it that day. How is that acceptable? Later that afternoon, there was an incident with a piece of equipment and this same boss expected the vendor to bend over backwards to accommodate what SHE wanted. (In the end, she got what she wanted with that, but not without having to wait and have two other people solve the problem for her. Yes, it might be part of their jobs, but the tantrum was ridiculous for a woman her age.) It wasn’t simply poor customer service that was the issue, but the impatience that she should be forced to serve someone else. (Sticks in the craw.)
Along with purposeful androgyny, dressing down ALL THE TIME and borderline slut attire (subject for a post coming soon), these are some of the points where manners lack that drive a rift between left and right. Manners are putting the golden rule into action. Lack of them tells the world that nothing other than me matters, which is what the left is all about whether they admit it or not. This devolution has been going on for decades and is getting worse. So much of it is done without thinking, and when we of the traditional mindset call the left on their rudeness, we are the ones ridiculed. What the left does not understand is that the standards of behavior that they disdain are the very ones that assure civilized discourse and side by side living with those who disagree.
Since the left is not interested in either of those methods of peace, we are forced to live with their trampling of tradition and, to an extent, rights unless we answer in kind. We don’t have to like it, but, really, we don’t need to take it on the chin all the time, either. If only we could make it polite.
(Unfortunately, to get the leftists at The Journal News, some liberal rag in the New York area, to understand how their actions affect others, it took a blogger publishing the names and addresses of the publication’s staff after The Journal News published the names and locations of gun owners in Westchester and Rockland counties of New York. This sort of tit for tat is not very becoming in the manners arena, but will be necessary to an extent, when the battles for rights and more come in the next few months.)