Zeitgeist

The Crude Shall Inherit the Earth

May 19, 2017

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The Crude Shall Inherit the Earth

The confluence of factors that landed Donald Trump in the White House was something we are not likely to see again for some time. Somehow, angst over low-skilled-job loss, a widely divided candidate field, and an arrogant political establishment deaf to the troubles of the electorate all came together to give a billionaire outsider just enough Electoral College votes to claim victory.

Numerous think pieces have explored how and why these forces propelled Trump to the Oval Office. But few have explored another facet of the president’s unlikely rise.

Many ask how a crude, egotistical man like Trump could capture the highest office in the land. Past presidents, despite their flaws, never sunk to the level of schoolyard taunts. Trump was not only immune to censure for his graphic utterances, but by all counts his colorful phrasing set him apart from the pack, ultimately aiding in his success.

“Authoritarian regimes thrive in the absence of agreed decorum.”

A politician who mocks a former POW for being captured never deserves high office. But here we are.

“In an earlier era, nobody with Trump’s crudity could ever become president,” writes The American Conservative editor Robert Merry. How true that is, and how dangerous. The slow dissipation of manners and gentlemanly morals boosted our current president. And while I’m happy to see him driving D.C. playmakers insane, I worry about the greater effect Trump will have on our weakening regard for etiquette.

Already, the tears in shared convention grow larger.

A recent example in Portland, Ore., shows just how divergent our sense of what’s allowed and what’s not allowed has become.

A plain-looking woman visited a liquidation store with her child and another she was babysitting. The store, quaintly named Everyday Deals Extreme, was selling large Confederate-flag (technically, the battle flag of Northern Virginia) rugs. The sight of the controversial flag triggered the woman. She proceeded to video herself berating store employees about selling a symbol of “slavery and lynching and raping of black people.”

Unlike professional Republicans, the employees didn’t sink into a spineless soup the second controversy flared up. They shot back, calling the uppity termagant a “liberal whiny bitch” and mocking her for Hillary’s loss. Wincing from the riposte, the woman exited the store in tears, telling another patron in the parking lot she had been physically assaulted.

The controversy generated by her recording reached the store’s CEO, Andrew Toolson. The employees were immediately placed on leave and the rugs removed. “I was sick to my stomach when I saw that video,” Toolson told The Oregonian.

The proprietor stepping in to defuse the situation is understandable. What isn’t understandable was the woman’s instinct to record the entire confrontation, then lie about the physical danger she was in.

That someone thought to whip out their smartphone and record a confrontation with employees—who, being retail drudges, have no say in merchandise they sell—speaks disturbingly about the mini social battles we now fight. And what’s worse is, the lady inquisitor thought to do this with a young child strapped to her back, making it all the more distasteful.


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