RSS Feed

Am I uncivil?

August 4th, 2011 by Froma in Republicans, Washington, economy, terrorism

The Wall Street Journal best-of-the-web column gives me an unfavorable mention today. It explains my position as head of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, which runs a Civility Project to raise the standard of public discourse, then excerpts my recent column likening tea partiers to al-Qaeda terrorists.

I see incivility as not letting other people speak their piece. It’s not about offering strong opinions. If someone’s opinion is fact-based, then it is permissible in civil discourse.  Of course, there are matters of delicacy, and I dispensed with all sweet talk in this particular column. And I did stoop to some ad hominem remarks, I’ll admit.

However, it was a Wall Street Journal editorial that first called the tea-partiers “hobbits.” After John McCain picked up the hobbits theme in a much-quoted remark,  a subsequent editorial expanded on it, ending with:

The debt-limit hobbits should also realize that at this point the Washington fracas they are prolonging isn’t helping their cause. Republicans are not looking like adults to whom voters can entrust the government.

Yes, I was angry, but I’m engaging in the defense of my country. I know the tea partiers say the same, but their behavior is that of a national wrecking crew. Most may be nice people who don’t know what they’re doing, but many a country has foundered on the passions of nice people.

As far as the facts are concerned, I stand my ground.  Terrorism is not confined to physical attacks. In May, The Wall Street Journal reported this:

The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.


“If you shut down our power grid, maybe well put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” said a military official.

Blowing up the U.S. economy to make a point would be an even more serious attack, in my book.  And that’s what the tea party saboteurs were threatening. They are what they are.


39 Responses to “Am I uncivil?”

  1. bob Says:

    So deliberately sabotaging our economy through Obamacare, a useless moratorium on oil drilling, refusing to open ANWR, etc., aren’t acts of terrorism?
    Pot, meet kettle.

  2. Richard Wendt Says:

    I don’t think you are uncivil but are immune from the realities of economics. It is impossible to put a nickle in the vending machine and expect a $1.00 worth of candy. The simple fact is that our nations is bankrupt. If you don’t believe that, just look at today’s stock market. Unlike politicians and opinion writers, the markets are not ideological.

    No, you are not uncivil. You are however, ill informed. Take off your blinders and see the world as it is.

    If Obama wanted to do something useful to change the economy he should consider resigning. That would turn the market around. Short of that we are only going further down into financial destruction which has the potential for social disintegration and even an overthrow of our government as mobs roam the streets. It is not impossible.

  3. TC@LeatherPenguin Says:

    Really? You get called out for your invective-laced rhetoric, and then you double down by trying to defend it by citing the WSJ’s “hobbit” editorial?

    You both seem to forget that the hobbits saved the world!

  4. Susan Says:

    Yes, you are uncivil.

  5. Rex Harrison's HAt Says:

    “And I did stoop to some ad hominem remarks, I’ll admit. However, it was a Wall Street Journal editorial that first called the tea-partiers “hobbits.” After John McCain picked up the hobbits theme in a much-quoted remark…”

    Do you really think the “well, your guys did it first” (WSJ) is an adult argument to make? Do you think your rhetoric advances the discussion?


    “Yes, I was angry, but I’m engaging in the defense of my country. I know the tea partiers say the same, but their behavior is that of a national wrecking crew. Most may be nice people who don’t know what they’re doing, but many a country has foundered on the passions of nice people.”

    May I ask if you honestly believe that fiscal sanity (the TP’s stance) is akin to a national wrecking crew and that not seriously addressing debt and spending is defensible? Our debt is now equal to total GDP and headed to the point where our GDP is equal to the interest alone to service that debt. Is it really your opinion that recognizing this fact and wanting to address it, if not only for our posterity is a terroristic action by tea party saboteurs?

    I agree with bob and Richard. You probably aren’t an uncivil person at heart. Just very, very wrong.

  6. GayPatriotMidwest Says:

    My God, Froma, I think you may actually be the most interesting (and mentally deranged( singe-serving friend I’ve ever met.

    Spend as many hours as you wish painting your political opponents as enemies – the fact remains that your President Obama has become an even bigger failure than Jimmy Carter, and will be cast aside just as quickly, regardless of whatever ridiculous progressive utopian fantasies you’ve been dreaming of these last few years.

  7. Delsyn Says:

    Please explain to me why a Wall Street Journal editorial calling Tea Partiers “Hobbits” in any way qualifies as a defense of your editorial in which you called people with whom you have a political disagreement “al Qaida bombers,” “terrorists,” “extremists,” and “ignoramuses?” In the first case, the term “hobbits”, while meant to be insulting, hardly compares with equating people trying to get this country back on an even financial keel with people who deliberately murder women and children. In the second case, “hobbits” is a deliberately ignorant insult when you consider that the hobbits were the HEROES of the story, the little people who stood up against those with more power than them and won. I’d be happy to take that comparison.

    You yourself give the game away when you say: “Yes, I was angry, but I’m engaging in the defense of my country. I know the tea partiers say the same, but their behavior is that of a national wrecking crew.”

    Really? A national wrecking crew? On what criteria do you judge that? On your own liberal standards, which of course, are the only ones that a sane and decent person could possibly have? Anyone else is a “terrorist” and an “extremist.”

    Why is it when liberals and Democrats stand on principle, they get applauded, but when the other side does, well, we’re terrorists? Did it ever occur to you that we felt such a confrontation might be necessary not because we wanted to wreck the country, but because we know that if we don’t start really grappling with the spending issue, this country is dead anyway? Even the so-called “deal” isn’t really spending cuts, we just slowed down the rate of growth and called it cuts.

    America wasn’t about to lose its triple A credit rating because of the debt ceiling fight, we’re losing it because the rating agencies can see what anyone not blinded by Washington DC nonsense or liberal unicorn dust can see — we are broke and our current budget plans (oh wait, we don’t HAVE any budget plans — thanks, Mr. President) are in no way taking us back toward financial solvency.

    “Most may be nice people who don’t know what they’re doing, but many a country has foundered on the passions of nice people.”

    Funny. I say the same thing about liberals. There hearts are in the right place. I wish their heads would join them.

    Not that I expect you to respond to this. The great thing about being a liberal is you’re often wrong but never unsure.

  8. Mikmadden59 Says:

    You madam are incredible. You go to the extent of comparing elected officials of the people to terrorist and bombers. I will ignore the ignoramus comment as that is just silly. Then you defend yourself by saying the WSJ called the tea party hobbits first? That is pretty thin. The hobbit comment was probably one of the most lame insults thrown at the tea party. In fact we made great sport of it. You however rank us with terrorists and bombers!
    Your entire defense was based on making it acceptable for you to stoke the flames of hate. Saying that incivility is not letting other people speak their peace. I heard plenty of Democrats talking about the debt debate. Well now you said your peace and nobody from the Tea party wanted to censor you. We don’t agree with your line of thinking but feel you have a right to say it. But how you said it was hateful and could incite people to act against members of the tea party. This is a charge often leveled against the right. You, yourself, did it in reference to Gabby Giffords being shot. Another fine example of incivility on your part, blaming Republicans. If you want to criticize fine but lets exclude references to Terror, Bombing, Nazis and hostage takers. Those do not further the discourse and you know it.

  9. dan-O Says:

    Ma’am, you lack introspection.

  10. Larry Gwaltney Says:

    I see you’re making up the rules as you go along – like most Lefties, restrictions are for “other people.” To be truthful, you want to restrict the speech of others while accepting no limits for yourself.

    There’s no way you would have bought into such an explanation had it come from a conservative writer.

    Worse, you head an organization that supposedly is working to minimize such invective. And you cheapen the term “terrorism” when you use it to label people who have the audacity to point out that adding trillions to the national debt continuously is not a sustainable path.


  11. Karl Says:

    Wow were to begin. You stated your previous column was not uncivil. Apparently your idea of civility is calling people terrorists,delusional, or my personal favorite “ignoramuses”. So in your book civility is an ad hominem attack? Well since you have defended yourself as remaining civil there appear to be only two possible conclusions to be drawn. Either you lack ethics or intelligence.

    Lacking intelligence is certainly possible. I acknowledge it possible that you do not realize this is uncivil. If that is the case then taking your advice on what do do about the economy would be equally unwise. If you lack the ability to understand the “civility” you champion then you most likely lack the ability to understand the economic stances you have taken.

    The other possibility is that you lack ethics. This presupposes that you DO understand ethics. That while you preach that others should be civil in their writings you do not expect to apply these standards to yourself. And since you are member of “The Civility Project: this is particularly odious. It seems you expect only those who’s opinion you disagree with to be “civil” and anyone who agrees with your opinion is allowed carte blanc.

    In either event it seems that you opinion on the matter carries exceedingly little weight.

  12. you are f'ing crazy Says:

    Do you find that you’ve had a bit more cognitive dissonance than normal lately? Think maybe there’s a reason for that?

  13. Jason Fletcher Says:

    I am flabbergasted. You seriously don’t think you have been uncivil?

    You write, “I see incivility as not letting other people speak their peace [sic].” Yes, shouting down your opponents is an example of incivility. But so is an assumption of bad faith in your opponents. Arrogance and condescension as a substitute for argumentation does not encourage civil discourse either.

    Your “defense” is no more than “I act with good intentions, thus nothing I say is out of bounds. Oh, and I’m right, and they’re wrong.” What’s more, you have the extraordinary lack of self-awareness to state, “many a country has foundered on the passions of nice people”. Physician, heal thyself?

    You were rude, unfair, and lazy. You, ma’am, are a bomb thrower. Metaphorically, of course. The term, after all, isn’t confined to physical attacks.

  14. Terry Lackey Says:

    I am a Vietnam veteran who served with honor and have never understood people of your ilk since returning from Southeast Asia many years ago. Having read your comparisons of Tea Party members to terrorists (Al-Qaida Bombers)is a disgusting example of your sick mindset. I’m sure had you been around during the VietNam era, you would have carried water for Jane Fonda. Typical New York Liberal.

  15. V the K Says:

    So, I guess this means that if we balance the budget, the terrorists win.

  16. Rev Dr E Buzz Says:

    “I see incivility as not letting other people speak their peace.”

    I remember talking to a biking advocate, a very liberal woman, who told me after her very liberal friend said “I may not agree with what you say, but agree that you have a right to say it.” said to me I DON’T!

    Is Bill Ayers civil? A terrorist?

    How about Rev. Jeremiah Wright? Civil?

    They are both close to our President. So what does that make him?

    This is some serious projection…I have met many liberals in my day, and almost to a person, they are closed minded and nasty when they find you don’t agree with them, and resort to shutting down argument with screams of racism.

    Sort of like what you are doing.


  17. David Silver Says:

    Yes. You are uncivil. Instead of intelligently arguing against the tea party (perhaps you could enlighten us on how a debt to GDP ratio of 200% would work? Maybe you know something that economists don’t?) you choose to mischaracterize an opponents position and then call them names for supposedly holding that position. Uncivil? Quite Dishonest? Most assuredly. Par for a hack like you? Yup.

  18. Elmer Stoup Says:

    Gimme a break, as we say in KC. You were uncivil, just admit it. Your hypocrisy is beyond belief.

  19. Johnny Says:

    It is “…speak their piece”, not “peace”.

    How did was anyone prevented from speaking their piece, Froma?

  20. ProbablyWontMakeTheCut Says:

    Democrats/Progressives/Obama have tied a $7 trillion millstone of debt in 2.5 years around the necks our children and grandchildren and tossed them into a lake. The Republicans got $2 trillion out of an ADDITIONAL $9 trillion over the next ten years cut and they are labelled “terrorists”.

    Go figure.

  21. Wonkish Rogue Says:

    Yes you are uncivil. Thats the typical progression for someone that has lost the argument. Then again, I for one hope you keep it up. Nothing is driving people away from you side faster than your extremist rhetoric. Well except for your policies that are facilitating American economic destruction.

  22. Cliff Says:

    I see incivility as not letting other people speak their peace.

    Right, calling people terrorists is totally respecting others right to say their piece.

    If someone’s opinion is fact-based, then it is permissible in civil discourse.

    And you’re just the free speech respectin’ liberal to decide what is and isn’t fact based and therefore permissible aren’t ya? SMDH.

  23. Dave Says:

    Civility, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary:

    Behaviour or speech appropriate to civil interactions; politeness, courtesy, consideration. In later use freq. with negative overtones: the minimum degree of courtesy required in a social situation; absence of rudeness. Also in to show (also †do) civility.

    You are therefore, by definition, uncivil.

    Isn’t using logic fun?

  24. Dan Salem Says:

    Let me get this straight, working for limited government, balanced budgets, free markets, elimination of burdensome regulations that kill economic growth and add tremendous costs to the economy, destroy jobs and increase poverty rates exponentially is economic terrorism. Meanwhile, the hair brained schemes (see cash for clunkers – another terribly debilitating policy that drove the cost of used cars for poor people through the roof) by those incredibly bright Haaaavaaaad educated leaders of ours who have run the economy into the ground since, oh say about 2006 when Nancy and co. routed Bush and then went full bore when they got their man in the white house is just good common sense economic policy. You’re not an ignoramus for believing such nonsense, your certifiable. It’s a psychosis that, frankly, the word delusional (again your word) just doesn’t do justice too. You lunatics will not stop until you’ve spent us into abject poverty. You think raising TAX RATES will increase REVENUES. You actually believe in this fairy tale, don’t you. If you don’t and you’re not utterly economically illiterate, then your a liar. Pick your poison. Finally, the next time you want to throw yourself on the proverbial grocery store floor screaming that mommy (the taxpayers) didn’t get everything in your basket you wanted, save your breath.

  25. Greg Says:


  26. tdpwells Says:

    I’m just wondering on what your thoughts were regarding Obama’s vote against raising the debt ceiling when he was in the Senate. Was he, too, a terrorist?

    “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

    Barack Obama, 2006. Sounds like a tea partier, no?

  27. ertdfg Says:

    “Most may be nice people who don’t know what they’re doing”

    Whereas you know that borrowing our debt up to 30 trillion when we’ve had 5% interest in the past and will have it in the future is good… that’s only 50% of projected revenue… the next generation can get by on half the usable revenue we’ve got. We’ll just spend it now.

    And it’s a terrorist act to put your position that the budget should be lower and more reasonable to such a high standard you’ll risk default?


    So when Obama decided that if the debt ceiling wasn’t raised high enough to cover him through his reelection campaign and he’d veto any smaller amount even if that resulted in default.. was that Obama as a terrorist? Was that Obama putting politics before the country?

    Of course not… because standing firm for liberal electoral gains is a good thing, much better than anything else… right?

    Go ahead, try it… figure out how risking default to try to get to a more balanced budget with debt we can manage is bad.. in fact terrorist action and political gamesmanship of the worst kid; but risking default to make sure that we don’t have to have this discussion again until after Obama can finish he reelection campaign is perfectly reasonable and defensible…

    That’ll be a fun and terrifying article won’t it?

    But we’re fine, we’ve got debt of 100% of GDP, but we can cover that interest rate easily… we have revenue of 19-215 of the GDP. What was the highest interest rate we’ve paid in debt in my lifetime? well under Carter it was 21%… or with our current debt every single dollar the government will take in immediately gone for interest payments.

    Good plan, lets load on more debt… interest rates will never go up again; just like housing prices can never drop, and dot-com stocks will increase in value forever.

  28. docweasel Says:

    Interesting that you rationalize your incivility because you claim to be defending your beliefs, but you deny the rights of others to do the same. This entire “civility” issue has been a ruse by the left to try to pressure the right, and specifically Tea Party and fiscal sanity activists into unilateral disarmament, while the leftists go on accusing anyone who disagrees with them of being racists, terrorists, un-American, hate mongers, advocates of violence, and more.

    This entire “civility” thing is a load of crap, and it’s proven by the fact that Ms. Frooma is it’s putative “leader”, and engages in the worst kind of incivility: equating people with whom she disagrees with murderers, bigots, racists, throw in Nazis while you are at it.

    Why don’t you just admit your “civility” project is just a front for advocating leftists smearing conservatives while trying to prevent them from voicing their opinions in honest debate.

    I’ve read some crack-brained columns by Frooma in the past, but this self-serving load of steaming tripe is probably the topper. The left is losing it’s grip on power, after the heady days of 60 Dem senators, a newly elected far leftist president and ownership of the House, they are on the verge of losing the first 2 after losing the last in ‘10, and you’re seeing the anger and impotence of losers who know they’ve lost the argument, and all they have left is whinging about “civility”, as if that will save their agenda.

  29. Arugula Hapsop Says:

    Just a drop or two of self-awareness would do you good…

  30. Chuck Long Says:

    “However, it was a Wall Street Journal editorial that first called the tea-partiers “hobbits.”

    As a leader of the Civility Project, shouldn’t you be castigating the WSJ for engaging in uncivil discourse rather than using it as a springboard for even greater incivility? Yes, you are uncivil, and a massive hypocrite, to boot.

  31. Brad Says:

    Is it really so difficult to grasp? Champions of civility look like idiots and hypocrites when they are uncivil themselves. And that is the kinder interpretation.

    The more cynical interpretation is the campaign for civility was always just a phony ploy and it’s true purpose is to demonize political dissent and silence political opposition.

    Thanks for the confirmation.

  32. Arlene Says:

    August 4th, 2011 by Froma in Republicans, Washington, economy, terrorism

    Hmmm, Republicans and terrorism in the same subject matter. Are you uncivil? You really need to ask?

  33. Charles Martel Says:

    Ms. Harrop said, “I see incivility as not letting other people speak their peace.”

    Since nobody — literally, *nobody* — is preventing other people from speaking, what is the point of the NCEW’s Civility Project?

  34. Michael McCullough Says:

    I know a soldier who returned from Iraq maimed by an IED placed by real terrorists. The comparison you made is not only uncivil but twisted and depraved.

  35. plains Says:

    Then Obama is a terrorist too for all the jobs he killed!

  36. Caper29b Says:

    So…basically the “Civility Project” is just a Newspeak term.

  37. Ed Says:

    You really have to ask if calling people that have done nothing but gone through the legal and democratic channels provided to all citizens of this country “terrorists” because they addressed what they see as the most important issue of our current times is ‘uncivil?’

    Good god. There is no limit to the depth of which of the statist will go to fool themself. “OMG it’s not economic irresponsibility, it’s “TEH CAR-RAZY TEE PARTEH TEARISTS!1!!1!1!!!11″

    Forgive us for understanding simple math. Ugh

    And yes, you arrogant crank! You are uncivil!

    But I expect nothing less. This is how the statist reacts when it’s back is against the wall. Unfortunately, this disgusting tactic never works. Either the left moves drastically to the center, or math will simply just impose it’s will on us. Froma, you have no choice. The money you people have used to buy votes to obtain power is not there anymore. It’s that simple.

    Deal with it.

  38. David Says:

    I think it’s cool that you have your own private definitions of “civility” and “incivility” that don’t have to be tied down to ordinary meanings that anyone could understand. Instead, you get to mean something no one else means by the words. And it doesn’t have to be tied down to any facts.

    I think it’s also cool that you don’t let yourself be tied down to reason, and that you can allow your whole logical process to wipe out all intermediate steps that prove your claims ordinarily and patently invalid, and follow your own star to a new reasoning. They’re “economic terrorists,” because economic action is like other actions in that it is something, and since there is some connection between voting on public policy on the debt limit of the federal government and economics (there really isn’t), that’s the economic part. And the terrorism part is easy: You need a word and a claim that would name a wholly immoral action, and doing something you disagree with is wholly immoral, and so is terrorism, so there you are! They’re economic terrorists. You don’t have to be tied down to reason, or to decency, in making your accusations.

    Besides, you really believe it. These are facts. It’s a fact that they committed acts of terror. One can see it in the terror that people now feel about votes on the budget. One can see it in the constant risk of death that people now feel when undertaking certain activities–like something that you’ll think of someday when you bother to.

    The plain fact is that you use the term “economic terrorists” because they aren’t terrorists, and a vote and a policy on the federal debt level isn’t an act of terror, whether you like the vote or policy or not. It’s plain idiotic to say it is, and then it is craven idiocy squared to try to defend it. An economy can’t be blown up, and no one threatened to do so. You might stop and ask yourself why we allow the expansion of the federal debt level to be a matter of legislation at all if opposing the expansion of the federal debt is an act of terrorism. When Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling, as a Senator, the risks were identical: Not doing it would have resulted in a downgrade of the debt. So according to your reasoning, Obama was a terrorist. Say it proud, lady.

  39. Susan Says:

    To all of you who have posted long arguments explaining why this person is uncivil and downright wrong: I admire your tenacity. However, you must surely be aware by now that she is utterly incapable of processing your information. She is so certain of her own righteousness that to even admit the possibility that her “enemies” might be acting in good faith, much less might be correctly acting in good faith with regard to the debt, would cause her entire worldview to come crashing down. Understand that government policy is not, to her, a matter of government, but of religion, and that her entire self-image as a “good person” rests on the idea that she favors big government programs to “help those who are less fortunate.” She cannot allow the possibility that “good people” might NOT favor these programs, because then her god, the State, might not be real, and she might actually be required to rethink some of her positions. God, er, State, forbid! Oh, and the only sin recognized in this religion is hypocrisy. Therefore, she HAS to double down on the claim that she was merely speaking the truth, not being uncivil, because then she might be a HYPOCRITE! EEK!!

    I do love reading these comments, though, and they might be persuasive to those who are not as deeply into the cult of government as this poor soul. In the end, you can really only pity her.

Leave a Reply