Let’s Be the Change

Published: June 15, 2018

By Jim Lichtman
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Last Sunday’s Tony Awards show was debased by displays of indecency and disrespect.

Actor Robert De Niro walked on stage to introduce Bruce Springsteen, but the first words out of his mouth were, “I’m going to say one thing: F#$k Trump!”

The disrespect quickly followed when much of the 6,000-seat audience at Radio City Music Hall stood and cheered De Niro’s remarks.

Let me be clear: I don’t like Trump, believe he’s an existential threat to the Republic, but… “The ethical value of respect imposes a moral duty,” ethicist Michael Josephson writes, “to treat all persons,” (even those we don’t like), “with civility and decency.”

Every time Trump tweets a dismissive or offensive remark about anyone or any valued democratic institution, he lowers the bar of respect, causing some of those who believe in honesty and decency to repay with similar offense.

My advice: don’t do it! Practice a little… correction practice a lot of self-discipline. Without standards of courtesy, civility and decency, everyone is free to engage in a bickering brawl of incivility that only continues the cycle.

From a political standpoint, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni says it best (June 13). In an open letter to De Niro and comedienne Samantha Bee, Bruni writes:

“…anger isn’t a strategy. Sometimes it’s a trap. When you find yourself spewing four-letter words, you’ve fallen into it. You’ve chosen cheap theatrics over the long game, catharsis over cunning. …

“When you answer name-calling with name-calling and tantrums with tantrums, you’re not resisting him. You’re mirroring him. You’re not diminishing him. You’re demeaning yourselves. Many voters don’t hear your arguments or the facts, which are on your side. They just wince at the din. …

“If you want to make sure that at least one chamber of Congress is a check on Trump, talk to them about that. And do so in a vocabulary that’s measured, not hysterical.”

All of us need to stop the reflexive drive to act like high-schoolers in a throw down with the schoolyard bully.

Trump is bad, but he’s not the anti-Christ, and the more we “punch back” with the same repulsive tactics, the greater the equivalence seen by his supporters.

Each of us, celebrities as well as the rest of us, need to get off our high moral horse and BE the change we wish to see in our country.

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