civil dissent angry boy

From “The Report of our Death was Greatly Exaggerated” The Conservative Resurgence by Wilfred M. McClay in the November 2010 Commentary Magazine (hard copy):

There is a great deal of genteel moaning in the air about civility, or the lack thereof, in American political life today. One can certainly sympathize with some of it, in the abstract. And yet too often the real object of such talk is the suppression of dissent rather than the improvement of debate, by disparaging the opposition as “uncivil.” That misses the very point of civility and its reason for being. The core value of civility is the concept of fundamental respect for the opposition’s right to be heard. One of the most blatant violations of the canons of civility in recent years has been the persistent effort to defame conservative policy prescriptions, groups, and movements as toxic, pathological and unworthy of public standing. We are seeing it once again in the sneering treatment of the Tea Party by reporters, pundits, and politicians, as well as, most lamentably, by the President of the United States himself. This is just another example of the persistent compulsion on the part of American liberals to write self-aggradizing and self-defeating obituaries for ideas that remain stubbornly, persistently, and vigorously alive.

print