What year is it? What century, for that matter?
A few weeks ago, I was squawking about a pair of young miscreants at the University of Connecticut who shouted the “N-word” in a successful attempt to be as obnoxious as possible and to prove that they have no idea how to live in a civil society, an incident that was recorded on video by an African American student.
Youthful foolishness? Either that, or disturbing the peace, or maybe criminal harassment. In any case, they face criminal charges but clearly also need to be sent to either charm school or re-education camp.
And now — 64 years after Rosa Parks sat down for freedom on that bus in Montgomery and 181 years after slavery was abolished in Connecticut — we learn of a case in Plainville, where an African American family has been repeatedly treated to what any reasonable person would call racial harassment by their middle-aged neighbor, complete with threats — “I’ll have the KKK on your ass” — and displays of the Confederate battle flag, the old Stars and Bars.
In one incident, according to police, the hostile, Klan-threatening neighbor walked up and down his driveway draped in the Confederate flag as the family’s 12-year-old daughter boarded the school bus.
To their credit, Plainville police have tried to defuse the situation by talking to both parties, but so far with little success. This man has been ordered by a judge to cease displaying the flag (which, lest we forget, is the symbol of a hostile power that once made war on the United States and was defeated) and to have no contact with his neighbors, who have since had a fence installed between the houses. He is due in court in January on breach of peace and disorderly conduct charges.
You have to wonder, though, whether directing such hateful actions at a child should maybe trigger more-serious charges. Sure, everybody has a First Amendment right to express himself, but the judge has ruled that in this case the flag was being used as a tool to harass and intimidate the neighbors, in particular the young daughter.
But no, I’m not going to try to blame all this on Mr. Trump — although he has done his level best to coarsen the culture of this country over the past three or so years by his treatment of and publicly broadcast statements about women; by his ridiculing of a severely disabled reporter; by his tweeting out of an almost uninterrupted stream of invective at his enemies, much of it in the form of childish insults; by his directing public hostility at the “other,” particularly as represented by people from south of the border or from African “s***hole” countries; by his coddling of our country’s foes such as dictator Putin of Russia, dictator Erdogan of Turkey and dictator Kim of North Korea, while insulting longtime allies such as Britain and France; by calling neo-Nazis “very fine people”; and by his characterizing the free press, which dares to accurately report his bad behavior, as “enemies of the people.”
No, it’s not his fault. We must have been ready to sink to Mr. Trump’s level even before he came along to drag us down there. That is, we got the president we deserve.
Reach Glenn Richter at email@example.com