You know … I have spent much time and many words criticizing Trump & Co., and shall undoubtedly continue to do so … justifiably, I think. However, today, I have to take to task another, one who chose an impolitic means to criticize. Ill manners never accomplish anything, and even when in response to the ill manners of another, they serve no purpose except to show ignorance and a lack of dignity.
On Saturday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was shopping in an Apple Store (perhaps he Twittered his old iphone into an early death???) when a woman approached him with a question. “How does it feel to work for a fascist?”, asked Shree Chauhan. As much as I dislike Mr. Spicer, as little respect as I have for any of Trump’s closest advisors, and as much of a snarky curmudgeon as I am, I would never have done that. It was not only rude, but it was out of place and inappropriate. I am sure Spicer was taken a bit aback and his response, if not brilliant or inspired, since he was caught off-guard, was at least respectful: “We have a great country.” But she didn’t stop there.
“Have you helped with the Russia stuff – are you a criminal as well? Have you committed treason, too, just like the president?”, persisted Ms. Chauhan. And at this point, Spicer made his own faux pas with, “It’s such a great country that allows you to be here.” (Note Ms. Chauhan is the daughter of Indian immigrants) Again, I do not care for Spicer, and what he said was the absolute wrong thing to say, but this woman had every intention of picking a fight, of goading him, and there was really nothing he could have said that would have appeased her. Determined to keep at it, she then asked, “What can you tell me about Russia, Mr. Secretary?”, to which Spicer politely said, “Thank you very much,” and walked away. Determined to get the last word in, the woman yelled, “You know you work for a fascist, right?”
This behaviour only makes us all look bad, makes us all seem to be a bunch of rude, loud-mouthed jerks who have forgotten our manners. Ms. Chauhan later wrote a blog post about the incident. She said she was “stunned” by the press secretary’s comment, writing: “That is racism and it is an implied threat.” She admitted that she was impolite, but attempted to justify her behaviour by saying she wanted to seize the “enormous opportunity… to get answers without the protections normally given to Mr. Spicer”. While Mr. Spicer’s remark wasn’t the best thing he could have said, I’m not sure, under the circumstances, that I could have done any better, and I definitely do not see it as an ‘implied threat’.
Now, if she had any sense, she knew he could not answer the questions she asked. Sean Spicer, for all his faults, does not make policy – he is merely a mouthpiece for Trump, Bannon and the rest. Later Ms. Chauhan took to Twitter with, “I have clear feelings for the man who is a fascist’s spokesperson. Nazis weren’t stopped with niceties.”
Some will say that, with all the hate and vitriol spewed from members of the Trump administration, and all the hate that Trump & Co. have unleashed in this country, Ms. Chauhan’s behaviour was rather mild, and she was, after all, well within her 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech. And I would agree with both BUT … just because one has a right to do something does not necessarily make it the right thing to do. It is not helpful, it shows a maturity and intellectual level on a par with that of Kellyanne Conway, and it is important, if resistance against Trump’s policies is to be taken seriously, if we are to be respected, we must act in a respectable manner. Ms. Chauhan failed to do that. The only thing she accomplished was to make herself look like a fool.
Rudeness is, in my book, intolerable. Ms. Chauhan’s behaviour was sinking to a low that is redolent of the behaviour of so many Trump supporters … she did nothing more than lower herself to their level. Although politicians are always on public display, and it is the nature of the beast that they will have no privacy in public places, they should have the right to have personal time free of public harassment. Your thoughts on this???