Op-Ed: GOP Congresspeople cry for ‘civility’ as they attack civil rights

GOP leaders like Paul Ryan disguise their hateful policies through calls for 'civility'
GOP leaders like Paul Ryan disguise their hateful policies through calls for 'civility'

WASHINGTON- “President Trump took to Twitter” is becoming a common phrase American media these days. Nearly every week, Trump fires off a series of poorly-thought out, and often angry, tweets. Usually the tweets are targeting figures in the news media who critique Trump. And so, on Thursday morning, President Trump took to Twitter to insult Morning Joe hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. Trump was angry because “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and “Psycho Joe” spoke badly of him after attending Mar-a-Lago for New Year’s festivities. The President also stated that Brzezinski had gotten a bad face lift.

Now, the real story here is not in Trump’s actions, rude and sexist as they were, but in the following reactions from conservative Congresspeople. As is common after Trump’s Twitter rants, Republicans in Congress have taken pains to say that the comments were “uncivil,” that the comments were “beneath the dignity of the office.” Much of this rhetoric is shallow; many Republicans just don’t like to be associated with Trump. Assurances from Republicans that “this time he crossed the line” are not new, but this week these assurances are particularly hypocritical.

Every time that right-wing members of Congress attack Trump, they are, at least in part, doing so to make themselves look different, perhaps more professional. This veneer of professionalism, of civility, disguises a fundamental problem with today’s Republican party. While members of Congress may be willing to decry sexism and racism when it comes from an Access Hollywood tape or from a series of angry tweets, they are more than willing to codify and institutionalize discrimination into American law.

On Thursday, Paul Ryan said that he did not think the tweets were appropriate. After talking about improving “the civility and the tone of the debate,” Ryan, less than a minute later, showed that the House was being productive by pointing out that Kate’s Law, an anti-immigrant bill was being brought to the floor. Kate’s Law has since passed the House.

Working within the bounds of ‘civil’ and ‘uncivil,’ Kate’s Law is anything but civil. The law imposes harsher sentencing guidelines for immigrants who have previously entered the U.S. illegally. These sentencing guidelines apply to everyone from violent offenders to asylum-seekers who have had their claims rejected.

In addition to passing Kate’s Law, House Republicans approved a bill that would take federal funding away from sanctuary cities. For a party allegedly concerned with economic development, this measure would defund most of America’s economic powerhouses. Beyond the economics though, this bill illustrates the anti-immigrant, anti-civil rights stance of the modern Republican party.

Donald Trump’s hateful views are repugnant, but Trump is more honest about it than Congressional Republicans. Donald Trump’s hatred is perfectly consistent with his policy stances. His hatred is perfectly consistent with the rest of his party’s policy stances. For many Republican members of Congress, the hatred is simply concealed underneath a thin shell of ‘civility.’

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