Help! I'm Surrounded by Intolerant Liberals at Work: A Guide for the Perplexed and the Outnumbered

A similar point was made last week by former Vice President Gore, who was oddly silent on the massive contributions to left-wing causes by billionaire George Soros as he scolded the Republican Koch brothers for supporting movements Gore finds reprehensible, preferring to advocate (I kid you not) an "Arab Spring" here in the United States, where we, unlike the Egyptians in Tahrir Square, actually have a tradition of free and fair elections:

After the debt ceiling  talks ended and the president signed the bill, the Democratic Caucus met and a new phrase of attack began being bruited about by increasingly desperate Democrats. Suddenly, liberals from Vice President Biden to Rep. Michael F. Doyle (D-Pa) appeared on TV accusing Tea Partiers of being terrorists. The Washington Times’ Jeffrey T. Kuhner noted  that “MSNBC host Chris Matthews likened Tea Partyers to ‘terrorists’ and ‘hostage-takers.’ Newsweek’s Tina Brown called them ‘suicide bombers.’ In short, for the Democratic left, the Tea Party is evil incarnate.”

As Commentary’s luminous Jonathan S. Tobin wrote at the Contentions blog, “Indeed, with the abuse escalating to a point where liberals now feel no shame about accusing Tea Partiers of being ‘terrorists,’” it is unsurprising that the group’s negative polling numbers have risen.  He also notes:

From its beginnings, liberal papers such as the Times slammed the Tea Party as a dangerous form of populism. It was smeared with unsubstantiated charges of racism on the false premise opposition to President Obama’s signature health care plan was a sign of prejudice. Though it was one of the most broad-based popular protest movements in modern American political history with a reach that extended across the country, it was still treated by most of the mainstream media as a slightly more respectable version of the Ku Klux Klan. Indeed, when Tea Partiers vocally expressed their dismay to members of Congress and senators at town hall meetings, liberals reacted as if public dissent against politicians was the thin edge of the wedge of a new wave of fascism.

That line held until November 2010 when it turned out the only poll that counts — the ballot box — showed the Tea Party was a mainstream force in American politics. While the Republican victory put a damper on talk of Tea Party extremism, the theme was rediscovered this year as some members of Congress decided to act as if their campaign rhetoric about debt, spending and taxes wasn’t just hot air but a pledge of honor.

This is an important reason that political discourse among our fellow citizens has moved -- in the immortal phrase of Abba Eban, Israel’s eloquent foreign minister, in his address to the UN Security Council on June 8, 1967 -- "backwards to belligerency." It has descended into the unchecked aggression of gang warfare -- or the Pleistocene Era.  And citizens take their lead from the political class. When Americans see the president, the vice president and the Solons of Congress and their media allies attacking Tea Party members and Republicans in general -- all with identical epithets -- can there be any doubt that such unacceptable conduct will trickle down to all Democrat partisans, including those in your Seattle workplace?

Decades ago, I lived in a deep blue bastion of the country where I observed that while conservatives were viewed by liberals as rare, exotic birds (“That’s interesting.  I wonder what makes him think that?”), there didn’t exist the reflexive derision, hostility, and shunning that passes for enlightened behavior today. Republicans and libertarians were considered socially acceptable, if eccentric, human beings, not pond scum lacking a conscience or intellectual honesty.

(3) The public mockery of the Tea Party and Republicans in general dovetails with a even larger societal problem: the slow but clear coarsening of discourse and a descent into a jungle of inter-party disrespect veering into loutish contempt. Unfortunately, this tendency is not confined to liberals.

Those who thought they were alone in sensing a rising tide of rudeness can find confirmation of their impressions from a recent Rasmussen poll, which found 76% of adults believing that Americans are becoming more rude and less civilized.  According to the poll,

Seventy percent (70%) say Americans are more rude to sales personnel or people waiting on them than they were 10 years ago, up eight points from last year....Conversely, 61% say sales and service personnel are ruder to customers than they were 10 years ago....Fifty-eight percent (58%) of Americans say they’ve confronted someone over their rude behavior in public, up seven points from the previous survey.  Thirty-eight percent (38%) have never confronted someone about their rude behavior. Sixty-four percent (64%) of men have confronted someone in public about their rude behavior, while 52% of women have done the same.

The confrontations arise when people are so deeply offended by the rude conduct of others that they cannot help but push back and say something.  Recently, I found myself behind a man in a supermarket line who didn’t realize the high price of the cellophane-wrapped cheese he planned to buy.  When the young, pregnant Hispanic cashier rang up his intended purchase and he discovered how expensive it was, he became angry at her and hurled a pound of Cheddar at her face.  I raced to the store manager and asked him to confront the assailant.  He did, telling the man never to set foot in the store again, or he would call the police.