Welcome to the tenth installment of the Project on Civil Discourse’s Weekly News Digest, hosted on our Real Talk blog.
Last Tuesday, Project on Civil Discourse Director Lara Schwartz appeared on The Kojo Nnamdi Showfor the show: “Belonging, Civility, Ugh: What Happens When Commonly Held Ideals Backfire.” Schwartz talked with guests Howard Ross and Philippa Hughes and guest host Marc Fisher about the interplay between belonging and civility and their importance during the holidy season. Listen to the show.
Solomon Self wrote about his experiences with civility and discussion while studying abroad in Thessaloniki, Greece this semester. He writes: “None of these conversations and educational moments would have been possible if we had simply written each other off based on initial impressions, reacted angrily to hearing opinions counter to our own, or felt indignant about comments made from ignorance and a lack of understanding of each other’s home countries.”
On Thursday, December 6th, Robert George and Cornel West will speak at American University about “The Purpose of a Liberal Education.” George, a conservative legal scholar at Princeton University, and West, a liberal philosophy professor at Harvard University, will discuss free speech, liberal arts education, and truth. The School of Public Affairs’ Political Theory Institute is hosting the lecture, which will be held at 5:30PM in Constitution Hall, East Campus. To learn more or RSVP, visit the event page.
Civility During the Holidays
In the weeks before Thanksgiving, Doug Friednash and Amy McCarthy wrote for The Denver Postand Eater, respectively, about civility at the dinner table. While Thanksgiving has passed, their broader messages remain relevant during the rest of the holiday season.
Friednash writes that “civility needs to be on the Thanksgiving menu” this year, highlighting national examples of where civility has both failed and succeeded. Rather than arguing at the dinner table, we should exercise our right to vote instead. Friednash closes: “People that disagree with how we see the world may be our opponents, but they need not be our enemies. They can be our frenemies.”
McCarthy disagrees, writing that “you’re morally obligated to call out your racist relatives at Thanksgiving.” McCarthy discusses the bystander effect, the balance between unity and our core values, and the influence that family has on one’s political views. It’s possible, she argues, to ‘call out’ your relatives or have conversations about charged topics while remaining civil.
Civility as a Buzzword
Earlier this year, Kate Knibbs wrote about the word ‘civility’ for The Wringer’s Lexicon series. In the wake of public protests against Trump administration officials, civility “became the week’s talking point.” Knibbs writes about the original concept of the word and its transition from justice to order. There is a tension between “the idea of civility as decorum and civility as a moral imperative” and it is currently being used to describe “how citizens are permitted to address their public servants.”
Civility and Protest
Peter Beinart writes about the standards of civil disobedience in The Atlantic after protestors assembled at FOX News host Tucker Carlson’s home in the wake of the midterm elections. He argues that some protests violate standards of civil disobedience, which is defined by John Rawls as a “public, non-violent, and conscientious breach of law undertaken with the aim of bringing about a change in laws or government policies.” Beinart uses this test to analyze recent protests, from kneeling during the NFL anthem to chanting at DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson at a Mexican restaurant.
Thanks for reading!