Civility in a Divided, Political World

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When I became fully politically active in 2010, I was looking for an outlet to stay involved in the election campaign. I was an impassioned 17 year old, living in an impassioned climate. One club provided the outlet for me- the New York Metropolitan Republican Club, “The Met Club”. From that club I volunteered and had close contact with State Senate campaigns and other local races which gave me the confidence to delve further into my political activism, becoming a college campus leader and Young Republican executive afterwards. So you can imagine why I was shocked and saddened to hear that the Met Club has been a victim of political vandalism by bands of violent radicals, known as ANTIFA.

Evidently the group known as ANTIFA had perpetrated this attack, because of the clubs invitation of Gavin McInnes, founder of “Proud Boys” to speak at their club. Gavin McInnes is a household name among “provocateurs” and is known to be widely controversial, to say the least. Rage and aggression associated with McInnis’ events are, of course, not an isolated event. Violent demonstrations happened at NYU early last year, and then like now, friends of mine were affected. Now, I’ll admit, I’m no fan of Gavin McInnis. I feel in politics, being a “provocateur” and only a provocateur is a disservice to the conservative or any movement particularly in appealing to a broader audience, because what’s the point of a political movement if not to draw more people to your side by enunciating your core beliefs? But my disagreement with McInnis as a speaker is that and only that- a disagreement. And what does one do with a disagreement? You talk about it or argue about it. But I have no right to use physical force of any kind to silence him. Not only is this criminal in and of itself, it doesn’t make for a fair fight. More importantly, i have seen politics escalate to where others fear for their safety.

My grandparents fled a country plagued by political violence. Where they fled a some 800 people died in election season and election days were deemed states of emergency. I have seen, there, where the worst in society, control members of its government to the point where the government was beholden to violent control of drug dons. No doubt those from elsewhere in the world share the same type of story, and that’s why they came to America, because what happened there did not happen here. When we create an atmosphere where our loved ones have to fear for our safety in just going to a political meeting or rally, we’ve undermined our thesis of a constitutional republic- we’ve certainly undermined our exceptionalism.

We’ve yet to lose our humanity, in actuality, in the past two years, we’ve channeled it incorrectly. So what are we going to do? We’re going to talk to each other, we may even yell. But what we’re not going to do is physically confront each other left versus right. Why? Because in an America that has optimism for the future there are no more acts like the Heather Heyer killing or the attempted killing of Steve Scalise. The Met Club in Manhattan is a place of civil discourse not civil discord. And yes, the high road for us is worth traveling, because Anarchists can not reduce our political involvement to primal rage.

To my friends on my side and across the aisle, no matter what our differences, without question, let’s all get home safe.

Jay Cruger

Board Member

Brooklyn Young Republican Club

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