Trouble the Water: To shame or to shun

Christians believe in shame. It is the first fundamental principle one learns from the bible. If you do something that you aren’t supposed to do, shame might be a consequence. It was for both Eve and Adam, if you believe that story. Christians claim they do. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a Christian.

For those of us who avoid the ecumenical world and realize that perhaps we have been conditioned to dislike nudity, not because of Eve, but because of Christian Puritans, we still understand that shame has power.

First, let me say I think that using shame as a tactic to seek out a moral or sympathetic response is the worst and least effective use. Begging for people to feel ashamed for reprehensible behavior doesn’t work. In fact, it has been shown to create a wider division. The person will dig into their beliefs and lash out, sometimes violently. Most of the time, the response will be much like Donald Trump’s tweets. Short, snippy and full of petty small insults because no, he doesn’t give a shit about your morality. He only wants you to fall in line to his whims.

Some months after the election, Joy Ann Reid tried shame when she tweeted, “Last November, 63 million of you voted to pretty much hand this country over to a few uber wealthy families and the religious far right. Well done.”

Nice try, Joy. Who are you trying to convince, the 63 million? They voted for this douchebag and don’t give a shit about your Twitter shaming.

However, I’m not saying to stop. It might not work but goddamn, it needs to be said.

Recently, in light of the administration’s separation of families at the border, thousands of tweets from citizens and the media asked where the moral center of the country has gone, mistakenly assuming that America has a moral center. Sure, America pretends to possess a magical morality and yet has been one of the greatest offenders against humanity over its 240 years as a nation.

The truth is, America has no morality to beam about. America has been the site and cause of atrocities innumerable: slavery, native assimilation policies, police killings of black and brown citizens, the Trail of Tears, ICE separating families at the border, etc. It is a nation where sexual violence gets you less time in jail than stealing a cigarette. America can’t wave a morality stick anywhere.

What seems to work, and has been proven to mold behavior, is the fact that bad behavior has social consequences. This shame, the shame of knowing that your behavior or your participation in something morally reprehensible, means that you are ostracized and unwelcome, will change behavior for most. It is the civil way to mold and shape behavior. It works better than force (someone tell the cops), and it has lasting effects. In the case of Huckabee-Sanders, it has nothing to do with race, color, sex but everything to do with her association with behavior that actually hurts people.

The recent negative social consequences experienced by her and others in the Trump administration directly forced them to respond to the American people about family separations.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders has lied and tap danced around Trump’s policies for a year. And now, because her association with Trump and his bad policies, she isn’t welcome in certain places.

The Red Hen was right!

Here’s the thing. It isn’t only Harriet Hee Haw Huckabee who can’t eat at the fancy restaurants where immigrants and gays work. Stephen Miller can’t do it, Kristjen Nielsen can’t do it and now Mitch McConnell can’t go about his day without being confronted with the consequences of his behavior, policy-making and association. Good.

Wait til those soybeans prices bottom out because of Trump toying with China. We’ll see how welcome Republicans might be on family farms in Indiana that depend on those crops for their livelihood.

The policies created by Trump and his cohorts have tangible physical, social and health impacts.

The xenophobia, homophobia and gynophobia reflected in the speech, behaviors and policies of this administration cause damage to and creates danger for real people.

In Southern California, 10-year-old Brandon Nichols reportedly told his family that he was gay. Within days, the child was dead, a victim of homophobia and neglect.

Maybe making people believe members of the LGBTQ community are bad had nothing to do with young Nichols being killed, but maybe his death is a direct result of the fear of his difference.

It doesn’t stop with this baby.

Right-wing shill Milo Yiannopoulos called for journalists to be killed. A day later, several journalists and other staffers at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland were murdered.

Perhaps it had nothing to do with the call to murder writers by Yiannopoulos, who now is claiming he was joking. Maybe, just maybe, the constant rhetoric from folks like Milo and Trump deriding the “fake news” written by the “enemies of the American people” creates a dangerous environment where American citizens get shot for acting in accord with the First Amendment and doing their jobs.

Bad things happen when people are told that difference and disagreement is evil.

If you don’t fit Trump and his supporters’ narrow brand of white, stupid and frightened American, you just ain’t in their club. You ain’t really American and they don’t want your kind around here.

And yet, they want to sit at your tables and visit your theaters.

If someone hurts my friends, my family or me, they aren’t welcome at my house or in any social environment with me. This isn’t rocket science people. Bullies aren’t welcome.

If the hurtful party comes to a place of public accommodation, a place where I am also allowed, they can expect to be confronted about the harm they’ve caused.

Assholes know when they’ve been assholes and the only reason Huckabee-Sanders, Nielsen or Miller are acting shocked is because they were too comfortable thinking their actions had no consequences.

We try to teach our children that bullying is wrong and that they should confront the bully, demanding that the bully cease the bad behavior.

Why then are we expected to let Sarah, Mitch, Stephen, Kristjen, or any other Republican who bullies in the name of Trump, be in public without confrontation? They aid the bully-in-chief.

To act in the conscience of the public good, for the citizens of the country and the values we claim to hold dear, is what it means to be civil. So any calls for civility need to be met with this refrain, We are already being civil.

Bad behavior has social consequences. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t have crime report newspapers or sex offender registries. We do not want to associate with bad people. Politicians who hurt the American public and the values we claim to care about, are bad people. They are little different than the offenders in the crime pages or sex offenders on the registry.

Until they change the hurtful policies — the hurtful and dangerous rhetoric — Republicans who support and stay silent for the bully aren’t welcome and they should never feel comfortable anywhere, especially in places where the people they hurt have to work, worship or exist.

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