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Newsletter: Be uncivil. Resist Trump. But don’t go crazy

President threatens violence against California Rep. Maxine Waters in response to her rebuke of his administration
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) addresses the 2018 California Democratic State Convention in San Diego on Feb. 24.
(Brian Cahn / TNS)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, June 30, 2018. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

I’m sure I’m not the only one bemused by all the president’s people clutching their pearls over Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ orderly restaurant ejection and Rep. Maxine Waters’ rousing call for members of the Trump administration to be confronted and “harassed” in public. They serve a president whose campaign rallies were punctuated by violence, who commented on his opponent’s body and who ordered people lawfully seeking asylum in the United States to be detained and removed from their children.

And now they want to elevate the conversation. Right.

So resist Trump the president’s opponents will, and don’t expect them to be kind about it. But this doesn’t give millions of people the freedom to commit mob violence, writes Joel Stein in an op-ed article. He consulted with several etiquette experts on how to follow Waters’ advice without going too far:

Kelly Williams Brown, the author of “Gracious: A Practical Primer on Charm, Tact and Unsinkable Strength,” gave me some etiquette pointers on confronting White House staffers. She told me that although she believes civility is of the utmost importance, morality is utmoster. Sure, being rude to an ordinary 7-Eleven shopper in a “MAGA” cap is like placing your napkin on your lap before your hostess does. But, Brown said, the less powerful are free to confront those in charge. Though she suggested it is polite “to introduce yourself as a constituent from XYZ” before screaming in their face.

Brown says booting Sanders out of a restaurant is fine with her. Though she personally would opt for subtlety. “If Sarah Huckabee Sanders comes into my restaurant, she just gets served terribly and slowly. It takes hours and we just keep saying, ‘The entrees are coming,’ and they just don’t arrive.” At that moment, I realized how many restaurant owners hate my writing.

People who find this administration immoral, she says, are in an etiquette pickle. “We have to make a distinction between what we have to do to feel like we can continue living in our skin versus what we should do knowing that this is a very volatile moment,” she said. ...

Until we’re in an actual shooting civil war, my guide for how to confront this administration is going to be whether my action contributes to building the society I want to live in. I’m all for causing unrest at the immigration centers, the airports and at whatever place it is they collect tariffs. Respectful confrontation, even if it’s aggressive, strengthens democracy. Inciting violence, personal attacks, demonizing the press, scapegoating religious and minority groups, lying about facts, threatening political opponents and praising murderous dictators weaken democracy. So long as Trump officials aren’t doing such things in front of me during their off hours — by, for instance, wearing ill-fitting khakis accessorized by a tiki torch — I’ll let them be.

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Making Trump officials miserable doesn’t solve anything. Better would be to vote their boss out of office, writes The Times Editorial Board: “It’s easy to see why some of Trump’s critics believe it’s time to abandon the norms of political debate and protest. … But refusing to serve a meal to a White House spokesman or confronting an administration official in a department store doesn’t make the case for change any more than chanting, “Lock her up,” at a rally.” L.A. Times

It was a really bad week at the Supreme Court. The justices ruled the president’s travel ban targeting mostly Muslim countries is legal, but that doesn’t make it good policy, says The Times Editorial Board. Erwin Chemerinsky calls the decision “misguided” and “hypocritical.” Separately, the Editorial Board calls the Supreme Court’s finding that workers have a free-speech right not to pay dues to the unions that represent them “bogus.” Finally, in another misguided decision, the court found that women who seek care in so-called pregnancy centers are not entitled to accurate information about abortion and other forms of healthcare. (An op-ed article takes the opposing view.)

And it could be a really bad few decades at the Supreme Court. The retirement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy gives one of the worst, most unprincipled presidents in history the opportunity to cement the justices’ conservative majority for a generation. The editorial board’s request: Please, oh, pretty please, Mr. President, don’t nominate an extreme ideological conservative. L.A. Times

The myth of Trump’s favorite bogeyman, MS-13: The transnational gang that began right here in Los Angeles — does this mean we’re not sending our best people to Latin America? — operates primarily out of El Salvador, and only a tiny handful of people who have crossed the U.S. border illegally have ties to the gang. Plus, it hasn’t taken over communities across the U.S., and the one city where it arguably presents more of a threat than anywhere else — Los Angeles — is home to one of the fiercest Trump resistance movements anywhere. Washington Post

The sorry history of journalists killed in the U.S. for doing their job: The death of five newspaper staffers at the Capital in Annapolis, Md., on Thursday reminds us of violence against journalists in places like Mexico and Russia, not the United States — but obviously, attacks on reporters simply for doing their job is an American problem too, writes Patt Morrison. Plus, Jon Healey calls the first hot takes on Twitter to the shooting a “hot mess.”


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