Where did we lose this standard of behavior and interaction for our politicians and heads of state?
Since we are noticing and celebrating the 65th year of the reign of Elizabeth II, I was reminded that this woman has served her country with grace and décor for these past 65 years. She has entertained numerous heads of state, some of whom, I am sure, she personally had adverse feelings toward. She has served with each prime minister of Great Britain since Winston Churchill and, like the foreign heads of state, she undoubtedly differed with some of them politically as well as personally. She has traveled countless miles representing her country without a misstep or scandal that I can remember. While it is true that one may say the Queen’s major function is to not embarrass her country, she has done whatever her function is with aplomb, tact, and courtesy to all she encounters.
What I wonder is, where did we lose this standard of behavior and interaction for our politicians and heads of state? Don’t get me wrong, I know that there have been prime ministers, presidents, and other heads of state that, behind closed doors, were abrasive, crude, and cut throat. We are not surprised at this by such oafs as Idi Amin, but we used to expect a modicum of decorum from our leaders whether heads of state or prominent leaders of the legislative bodies. There was even a time when the public behavior of athletes, entertainers, and other public figures reflected courtesy and sportsmanship, regardless of personal feeling or satisfaction with their circumstances.
Today, as most visibly personified by Donald Trump but not limited to him, we seem to have accepted and descended to a level of discourse and conduct that can encompass anything short of questioning the parentage of an opponent or accusing that opponent of an assortment of unnatural acts.
Not to single out Mr. Trump, but it seems that he is allowed to call a seated federal judge a “so called judge” without sanction, or we allow a member of the House of Representatives to similarly label the elected President a “not legitimate President”. And lest the recent democrat nominee be exempt, how is it that we accept that calling one’s opponent’s supports a “basket of deplorables” is more acceptable that your opponents’ misogynistic comments or making fun of a reporter’s disability?
I could go on and on listing the insults and slanders from those in the public office and those supposed to be role models for us and for our children and grandchildren. Instead of excoriating these folks, we, their supporters, laugh at them, encourage them and even idolize the “honesty and courage” of our favorites.
It is possible that all of this is a natural outgrowth of the excess of the “politically correct speech” that we are forced to adopt. We can no longer say anything that anyone can take offense at lest we be labeled insensitive, racist, or anything else that the offended party can dream up. This politically correct speech has gotten so out of hand that it has become almost a religion on college campuses and a source of derision for those that see the folly of pandering to the feelings of every single person or movement (I could expound on this, but mercifully that is a topic for another time).
There is a need to be sensitive to other’s feelings, and there is also a need to take to task one’s opponents in the political or athletic arena, but is it too much to ask that there be a respecting of one’s opponents and one’s audience by foregoing pejoratives and hyperbole?