This is either efficient or lazy. I will plead to either. I have posted before at length on the subject of The True Patriot, and have referred several times to the section in Mere Christianity where C S Lewis talks about the True Christian. Rereading both this afternoon, I don’t think I can do better, other than to note that the current True Civility claims, which I encountered looking for other things at The Ringer and 538, fall into the same category. Straw men. False dichotomies. Most importantly, redefinitions of everyday words in order to show that all real virtues are, ultimately, just liberalism. Who woulda thaought, eh?
Also, critiquing the Knibbs editorial, there is the point that language doesn’t work that way. It is not valid to say “this is the root of the word centuries ago, this is its real meaning, its better meaning, its more educated meaning now.” Even if there’s an interesting book out there by another liberal who claims that civility is supposed to equal the larger category of civic virtue (because just look at the root word!), which means protesting against evil authorities for the good of The People, it still doesn’t work. Word derivations are interesting more than illuminating. See how the word silly, related to German salig, has changed over the centuries, for example. BTW, I wish Protestant preachers would learn that as well. What the word meant in the KJV is not what it is really, really supposed to mean now. Nor what Noah Webster thought, either. Words change, and are an agreement in a speech community, not cast in stone.
You can figure out what my current essay about True Civility would be from reading the first two links. You can even write it yourself, just for the fun of it.
They can see the faults of conservatives clearly. They cannot see even the simplest things about themselves.
Update: Someone interesting weighed in on civility, in just this way. Even now, listen for the questions she is not being asked.
4 thoughts on “True Civility”
I think anything you need to call “True” is probably suspect. ;)
Definition of True Civility is any behavior that subordinates a person to the latest liberal leftist outrage of the week, preferably also redistributing their net worth to unelected bureaucrats in the process.
@ PenGun – agree entirely. It’s like “Honest John’s Used Cars.” If your Christianity, or Patriotism, or Justice, or Civility can’t just stand on its own, maybe it ain’t that real to begin with.
Word derivations are interesting more than illuminating
That may be the case with many everyday mundane words, but the word here in question has both interesting and illuminating origins.
The linked article says the Latin meaning has a “juridical and political construct”, but it was a lot more than that. A lot more than just being cordial to your neighbor.
Citizenship and its essential quality of civility were the Roman citizen’s entire identity. For the first time in history disparate peoples were united not by kin or ethnic tribe, but by ideals. The cry of I am a Roman meant you were a stakeholder in a social covenant based on shared principles and laws so powerful that it transcended time and space and blood. This identity sustained the Roman civilization for 2000 years. Not military strength, not technological no-how, not politeness. A shared identity.
This is still relevant to us today. The American identity is similar to the Roman, being based on unity under self-evident natural laws. And the American identity is similarly endangered, as evidenced by these editorials, because no one knows what it means anymore.
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