The Atlantic

More Devoted to Order Than to Justice

Political moderates who counsel against confrontation and warn of incivility would abandon the tools that have changed America for the better.
Source: J. Scott Applewhite / AP / Katie Martin / The Atlantic

American politics is today a brutal boxing match of harassing confrontations. The disagreements renew two enduring questions: one philosophical, one historical. Is political harassment civil? And do the ugly political confrontations signal a sharp departure, or have they always existed in the United States of America?

Moderates in both major political parties have long argued no on both fronts. Their political brand is unity. They pursue the absence of tension. That has meant avoiding confrontations through building political bridges high above the audible river of children crying in detention facilities, in police cars and cells, in abandoned schools, in abuse-infested homes, in rat-infested apartments, in searches for incarcerated and deported parents, in funeral homes over closed caskets, in plantation shacks after their first whipping, and in slave auctions fearing their new harassers.

These political moderates classify as uncivil those, like Donald Trump,

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic3 min read
The Art of Self-Defense Explores the Absurd Horrors of Masculinity
The satirical karate movie starring Jesse Eisenberg posits that these days, men do not have to dig deeply to find their inner brutes.
The Atlantic6 min read
Sometimes Even Newspapers Need Poetry
The New York Times tapped a polymath poet to celebrate the 1969 moon landing on its front page.
The Atlantic7 min read
The Origins of the ‘Acting White’ Charge
School integration yielded a disturbing by-product: a psychological association between scholastic achievement and whiteness.