By Leland Stein III –
What has happened to civility in this country? Simple respect for your fellow humans has to be the real spirit behind the Constitution, even if you disagree with them . . . right? I think the founding Fathers wanted us to debate and have choices in competitive but civil discourse.
By now I’m sure that most know Boston Bruins' goaltender Tim Thomas elected not to go to the White House recently with his teammates, who were at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to be honored for their 2011 Stanley Cup championship.
At the White House, President Obama honored the hockey champions for their on-ice effort and for the Boston Bruins Foundation's off the ice charitable work which has donated more than $7 million to charities in New England.
The question is why did Thomas, the winner of the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender in the regular season and the playoff MVP last year give President Obama the cold shoulder, or as they say in the hood, give the Pres “the brush-off?”
Apparently the Bruins star goalie simply could not stand to be in the same room with America’s current President. The Flint, Michigan native back tracked after his rebuff hit the media airwaves, saying it wasn't about "politics or party" and yet he also took the time to slam the government for being "out of control," which sounds kind of political to me.
According to the Boston Herald, Thomas is a big fan of Glenn Beck expressing a secret wish to one day be a guest on his show. He is also a hunter and concerned about Second Amendment issues, has expressed his support for the Tea Party movement by wearing a mask emblazoned with “In God We Trust” on its front, and the Gadsden (“Don’t Tread on Me”) flag on its back panel.
Thomas released a statement via Facebook: “I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People. This was not about politics or party. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.”
It sure sounds like a Thomas Tea Party political rant to me, full of generalizations with hasty scare tactics in the face of evidence to the contrary. Still, I support anyone’s right to free speech and freedom of choice. But what has happened to agreeing to disagree, while still having cordial interaction?
Is it any wonder that this country is so politically fractured when a bunch of guys can't agree to just get together and talk sports? What Thomas did was take a harmless event for and about his team and turned it into an event about himself. It was a selfish act, plain and simple, but more importantly, it was bad manners and a slap in the face to the leader of the free world.
What has happened to civilized conduct, courtesy, politeness or a simple polite act or expression? Wasn’t Obama’s acknowledgement of the Bruins a simple polite act? Shouldn’t a gesture like the President’s be received amicably and harmoniously?
Unfortunately in this reality TV era, civility and courtesy have and are taking a backseat to the antonyms of civility such as discourteousness, impoliteness, incivility, rudeness, surliness, and ungraciousness - all have engrained themselves in the spirit of too many Americans.
Thomas' self described non-political stance, is an unquestionable Tea Party position, and follows suit with the uncivil behavior that has been permeating America’s discourse concerning the Obamas. The socialist rhetoric, Hilter references, being called a liar during his State of the Union Address, reference to his wife’s body parts and on-and-on it goes.
Everyone has the right to voice their opinion, but as Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick noted: “It just feels to me like we’re losing in this country basic courtesy and grace.”
“I didn’t think much of President Bush’s policies – two wars on a credit card, prescription drug benefit that we couldn’t afford, deficit out of control – but I always referred to him as ‘Mr. President.’ I stood when he came in the room,” Patrick said in a segment of “Ask the Governor”.
Leland Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Twitter @ LelandSteinIII
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