Independence Requires Civility

Last week was a demoralizing week of incivility

By Tammi Fisher

This past week, a few things occurred that caused me to pause and question whether our independence as Americans is at risk. Reading about the Red Hen event, watching the video of a protester interfering with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s personal space while walking from their doorstep to their car, and the calls to abolish ICE made for a week I’d like to forget and I hope is not repeated.

Apparently, at least on the East Coast, it is considered appropriate to attempt to publicly shame folks based upon who their employer happens to be. The owner of the Red Hen had every right to refuse service to whomever she pleased, and those who do not share the owner’s opinions have every right to boycott the Red Hen. But for the owner to follow Sarah Huckabee Sanders down the street heckling her is not only shameful, it impacted Sanders’ right to be left alone. Sanders was not acting as a public official when she was seeking a meal.  She was on her own time, and deserved to be left alone. She was as entitled to her independence as the owner was entitled to operate her business as she chose.

Secretary Chao and her husband were literally walking from their front doorstep to their vehicle when a young man physically entered Secretary Chao’s personal space to accuse her McConnell of impacting illegal immigration policy.  Secretary Chao could barely get into her vehicle and had to verbally fight off the young man who invaded her personal space.  The young man has every right to protest policy, but invading personal space is not appropriate and leads those who work for a perceived unpopular employer to live in fear. Public servants living in fear is antithetical to respecting the independence and freedom our Revolutionary War heroes obtained for us.

To cap off a week of out of control behavior, some now seek to abolish the law enforcement agency whose primary mission is to promote national security through enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade and immigration. ICE should be celebrated for the work it does without adequate resources. Crusading against the very people who devote their lives to protecting us is treasonous, undermining our independence and autonomy as a nation. The proposal is plainly absurd.

Last week was a demoralizing week of incivility. Perhaps its wishful thinking, but maybe the celebration of independence this week will cause those that use incivility as a messaging tool to find a different mode of protest; one that doesn’t undermine personal freedom and pays due respect to those brave heroes that secured our independence as a nation.

Tammi Fisher is an attorney and former mayor of Kalispell.

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