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The Bruenig Firing: ‘Civility’ As A Tool To Control Political Dissent


The Bruenig Firing: ‘Civility’ As A Tool To Control Political Dissent

Roqayah Chamseddine

The idea that political civility is a necessary element of political discourse—one which is meant to emulate a kind of ideal courtroom politesse—is a bourgeois conviction. Expressions of civility are said to uphold democratic standards and tame violent language, and are therefore considered hallmarks of respectability and, mostly importantly, of enlightenment.


The only amusing thing about this entire affair is that angry identitarians like Sady Doyle who normally reject "tone policing" are now saying Bruenig should have been fired for being rude.


From the article:

"The usurpation of social justice rhetoric for the sake of neoliberal ends, for the sake of maintaining existing conditions, is their modus operandi. Any flicker of criticism, no matter how tempered, will be described as too harsh, too divisive, and absolutely unnecessary."

The same call to "just getting along" is articulated in this forum; and as I've pointed out--it's a veiled call for conformity and consensus, and therefore dangerous to any semblance of an open discourse.

The truth is, there IS sexism on both the Left and more so, the Right. However, these are times so thick in deception that ANY premise can--and frequently is--inverted to serve the goals and intentions of empowered entities and individuals.

One of the most fundamental aspects of being alive is eating. Yet what passes for food today is often factory made or genetically engineered.

In other words, it's alien to the body's long evolutionary track of what constitutes nourishment.

Most of us recognize that the mass media packages redundant sound bites that are as related to truth as Donald Trump is to tolerance (of anything or anyone that departs from his narcissistic image and likeness).

False triggers are used to create phony pretexts for wars, and crimes committed by people with positions of authority go without redress.

What I'm getting at is that in just about every facet of our lives, Truth is being replaced with false equivalents. That's why it doesn't surprise me that the term Feminist and the Hillary supporters who identify with it, would use it as a bludgeon. And in the same way that terms like Liberal and Progressive have been denigrated and divested of true meaning, they are doing likewise to the term Feminist.

As a Feminist, I oppose Mrs. Clinton because her policies mock the faintest forms of humanism; and the true Feminist is not a woman bloodthirsty for power within the brutal (to nature and human beings) infrastructure that patriarchy built... she is an individual who regards ALL persons as deserving of a chance to pursue their aspirations within law-based nations.

Too many use labels as broad-brush one-size-fits-all constructs as if there isn't diversity within every identifiable "pool" of persons who perhaps self-identify with the same labels.

Some time ago I explained that the Clintons may have been tapped to rebrand the entire direction of the Democratic party... essentially granting it the role formerly held by the Republican party. The net result is the entire right-wing shift that's dominated since l980. Nor has the rightward swing been limited to the U.S.

There are very real cycles that govern our lives and influence everything from nature's seasons to political mood swings.

The pendulum can only HOLD right so long... and the Sanders' supporters inside the U.S. are definitely putting their weight behind the inevitable swing back to the Left.


Kudos for illuminating Joan Walsh and Neera Tanden both of whom serially undermined progressive values.

"Scumbag" ?

Although civil disobedience and working outside the parameters of civility are often necessary, the English language includes more descriptive words than "scumbag" that communicate an equally, if not more powerful message.


Yeah, "scumbag" is too strong. When insulting anybody from Team Clinton, please limit yourself to approved words. I think "fucking retard" is one of them.


As someone who does not do Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, Linkendin, or any of the other cyber time wasters, reading this article was like being told as a fish about Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina, or (for those who go back a few years) Hazel.
So what?
As someone who is old enough to remember when speaking or writing profanity or vulgarity in public was enough to get one fired from their position, Ms Roqayah Chamseddine's fit of pique seems a bit overdone. Civility can only be used as a tool to "control political dissent" of those too ignorant or bored to more creatively critique their targets.


What about the word "zombie"? Is it outside all civility to call people who would destroy someone´s career, and his wife´s too, because they got called a word they don´t like, "zombies"? You know, zombies dine on the flesh of characters they´ve assassinated. And the Clintons? (O dear, almost wrote Clingons--I know, misspelled!) Yes, the Clintons: I always felt they were stealth Republicans, intent on subverting the social-democratic strain of the Democratic Party--which is pretty much what they did. Is it outside all civility to call them "stealth Republicans"? I mean except for when Hillary Rodham worked for the campaign of Barry Goldwater, of course. Or did she call herself a "Democrat" then, too?


Thank you Roqayah - I just added Shadowproof.com to my news bookmarks.

Thank you HRC, for helping to open my eyes and clarify my thinking. That so many "liberal progressives" have in so many AMORAL ways worked to support Clinton and to sandbag Bernie, has been a bit of a shock to me. Your campaign is a truly effective way of sorting out the posturing self-serving people from the ones devoted to doing service for others.

I was raised on the New Deal version of democrats, and had thought it was my dark side wanting to demonize the privileged elite "liberals". Now my eyes are fully opened (hopefully).

What I'm seeing now is that the wealthy "liberals" support the status quo that is dominated by oligarchs, and these people seem to have very little interest to make any effort, or to make any sacrifices (which might risk their comfortable and privileged lifestyles) to support the millions of people living in poverty hell, who are being sucked dry by wall street and then discarded.

That behavior is so hypocritical and upsetting that it is hard to find the words to express how I feel. (can you hear my teeth gnashing?)

This situation is much like some slave owners claimed the higher moral ground because "they cared so much about their slaves and took such good care of them". People who want great wealth, privileges, AND the higher moral ground, All At The Same Time, make my teeth grind.

Worse yet, Clinton's platform is equivalent to what was considered the platform of rabid republican/businessman faction, when I was growing up.

I would rather die than lift my little finger to support the privileged/elitist/status quo/wall street/oligarch faction, and I will work as hard as I can to support the politicians working to support government by and for the people of this country.


While I really like the word "scumbag" and use it a lot in my personal life, I agree that it is very ambiguous.

In the context of this article, describing these public figures as heartless, self-serving hypocrites is much more explicit, and nearly as satisfying to say as scumbag. Better yet, using this phrase makes one less vulnerable to being attacked with red herring arguments.

I have a subscription to unabridged.merriam-webster.com and their thesaurus has been very helpful in improving how explicit and potent my writing is.


More blah, blah, blah from MSM talking shitheads. Who wants to play in this phony playhouse, really? Sounfs like a cat fight inside an exclusive sorority. That's so, like last year.


As a feminist and septuagenarian in support of both Diogenes and Bernie Sanders, I despair that we are running out of time to secure a viable future for coming generations as this last opportunity is crushed by ignorance and personal greed.

SR, thank you.


Many of us share your despair . It is a major motivator to help Sanders break through.


The indictments against Hillary which several posters here foreshadowed (as if knowing this would come to pass) could be a game-changer.

I am not ready to throw in the towel and believe the coronation will proceed as initially planned.

There's a lot of permutation happening and it's impacting everything from the weather to the way people perceive politics "as usual."

Anyone hear a Fat Lady sing?

No need to thank me. Those of us who live true to our souls do The Work generation after generation... to keep the lamp of Truth lit.


I guess she could be considered "liberal" in the sense that she is not a religious conservative, say.

I don't care, of course. She is definitely not on the left, or a "progressive".


Obama, Clinton and others negotiate in secret the TPP agreement. Essentially a fraud on the public. That they push this fraud on us in even tones - is uncivil. They should be called criminal fraudsters who are acting on the bribes from their contributors. Obama whose campaign was financed by Wall Street and then bailed them out and appointed the likes of Larry Summers should be called a fraud and a man of zero integrity.

It should be said in even tones and the calls for criminal charges should be called for in equally polite tones.

It should be made clear how uncivil it is to betray the public trust and to commit fraud.

When the Attorney General refuses to investigate then he should be water boarded until he complies - but always using words like please and thank you.


Wow, Shadowproof, FDL, Roqayah Chamseddine, pulling no punches!

Damn straight, phony "civility" - (including the entire trumped-up "Bernie Bros" smear campaign) - exemplify the utterly fake "public discourse" that gets paraded in front of us to uphold the boundaries of "acceptable" critique.


A stifling "civility" and "decorum" has always been the modus operandi to stifle dissent in US polity. Visit the "lively" parliamentary sessions in any other decently functioning democracy to see that. You will rarely see or hear a gavel in Ottawa, London, Canberra, Berlin, Tokyo, etc - only lots of spirited rancorous debate accompanies by lots of cheering hissing and and booing. In Tokyo, their lower house once erupted into a massive fistfight brawl... then came to a compromise and passed the bill.


Yes it is always best to be nice and polite when you're getting raped.

"The idea that political civility is a necessary element of political discourse—one which is meant to emulate a kind of ideal courtroom politesse—is a bourgeois conviction. Expressions of civility are said to uphold democratic standards and tame violent language, and are therefore considered hallmarks of respectability and, mostly importantly, of enlightenment."

No one ever said democracy wasn't supposed to be messy or free speech comprised of socially accepted words.


Brava to the author! Standing-up to bullying, especially in the political sphere is never fun and almost certainly fraught with blowback from those called for their abuse! The Clinton crime family is adept at punishing any that have the temerity to object to their corruption and service to the uber-wealthy and corporate greed.

"Tanden isn’t simply a scumbag. She is a degenerate politician, who called for Libya to “pay us back” for the violent intervention which sent it spiraling into an Islamic State hellscape. She hosted an interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and laughed and lobbed softball questions to please the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and make pro-Israeli donors happy.
There’s no need to preface any defense of Matt or Elizabeth Bruenig with a position on tone, or civility. There is nothing civil about the political process, and it’s about time we make this clear."