Intolerance and Integrity

Intolerance by most definitions is the unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect opinions or beliefs contrary to one’s own. Division in our country is at a fevers pitch with liberals and progressives choosing to disrupt, insult, and shout down others who may disagree with what they believe. Intolerance also was demonstrated by the despicable display of arrogance and less than childish behavior by Congressional Democrats through their chanting of the old high school in your face song: “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.” after the healthcare vote in which they voted against in total.

Liberal and Progressive Democrats have moved beyond intolerance to outright disruption and arrogance.  It is very hard for me to understand how Americans in their district could support such behavior.  Imagine if this scene was played out in a corporate boardroom where members who were voted down got up out of their seats and did this.   They would be in their cars in a few minutes wondering where their salary and reputation went by being fired or dismissed.  No one needs to act this way and especially those who claims to be representing all Americans; not just the few they agree with.  Do they think that there were not millions of voters who gave the Republicans the House of Representatives and the Senate a majority? Members did not elect themselves!

Compromise has always been a part of our government and working together through dialogue will not alter what you believe but what you can accomplish.    Progressives use of terror words to excite their “base” is akin to screaming fire in a crowded theater promoting fear and even more dividing lines that is becoming nearly impossible to extend a hand across the aisle.  Dialogue cannot occur unless there is at last toleration of others’ believes.  One does not have to embrace the other side; just respect other views and with both sides doing that, it will establish common ground.  The ground right now is shaky at best with Democrats in Congress leading the way.


The Democratic members of the House who chose to participate with this despicable display of unprofessional rancor could be seen by not only our country but by nations worldwide. Is their unprofessional behavior that in which members of Congress, who should be acting with integrity, should model for our nation and the world?

Disquieting Silence


Merely wishing something not to be true does not make it so.  Progressives and anarchists alike have learned this bit of wisdom that, like it or not, President Trump is their President. Americans live in a society that is permeated with not unintentional disrespect but intentional disrespect.  Using vile comments about another without even a mere thought about how harmful their words may be to the other is commonplace for the progressive left.  That is not the America I fought for during my 26 years of military service and my work afterwards in advancing respect and inclusion for all Americans.

The left seem to have an extremely low level of media literacy.  They really need to check their confidence level of what they are espousing as the truth and reset their attitude toward eliminating boorish behavior toward others.  I am all for free speech but when that free speech turns someone into a person that is intending to do me harm through verbal assaults and demeaning labels…there is a point where one must respond.

It has, what I feel has become, disquieting silence from many conservatives who feel they must take this disrespectful abuse towards them and our President without relevant responses.  I am not speaking of responding in kind since doing so would lower our moral compass as well.  However, what I am saying is that we must be able to maintain our respectability and composure while continuing to stand fast in our principles and values.  Angry people usually will fade when an increasing amount others call them on their behavior. The tide will turn against them but only if recipients of disrespect continue to be respectful.  Sounds like common sense yet it is very hard for many of us to break out the message.  That message is that we will always offend anyone with anything we believe but activists can say and use verbal insults anytime they want towards us and intentionally offend without repercussion.

For example, if what we say to progressives and anarchists are things like we want our country safe and deport all illegal alien criminals, stop illegal aliens from entering our country, and it hurts their feelings, so be it.  We will not attack them just espouse our viewpoints.   If we say we want a health care system that is truly one that will give you health care instead of the existing imploding fallacy of one with just an insurance card with unreachable deductibles and it hurts their feelings, so be it.   We still do not name call them anything but promote our beliefs.  Can we find common ground?  Only if respect is the order of the day form both sides and civil discourse is allowed with dialogue.  Let’s go beyond disquieting silence and let others know just how we feel about certain issues.  Is it taking a chance to get involved in an uncomfortable conversation? Yes, but our comfort will be much more comfortable if we choose to be civil.

Washington Post Columnist Dana Milbank Crosses the Line

This is the letter I sent to the Washington Post Editor today:


Letter to the Editor,

Mr. Milbank, you have finally crossed the line going well beyond incivility with your Sunday, March 29, 2017 column.  Your history of writing dramatically divisive columns such off the wall columns like “The end of whiteness” in your repertoire is even one I highlight my own book.  Your article on Sunday, March 19, 2017, laced with hateful, despicable rhetoric, could be construed as undoing American values and is tantamount to being un-American.  You must be exhausted riding the coattails of protected free speech, no matter how contemptible   Yet, when you continue to venture into the world of personal and insulting  attacks through your boorish writing, or merely relying on a protective shield of free press for your offensive comments, your credibility vanishes.

President Donald Trump is your President Mr. Milbank.  Whether you accept this or want to disrupt, resist all costs, insult by personal attacks, is sad, but irrelevant, since he will be the President for the next four to eight years.  When you insult President Trump you also insult me and the other 62 million Americans voted for him.   Let’s start with your columns’ comments:

  1. “Trump has been mercifully incompetent.”
  2. “Stupid is as stupid does.”
  3. “Now trump seems to be running a cartoon version of a presidency and he’s Elmer Fudd.”
  4. “His proposals could, if successfully implemented, be ruinous…so far, at least, Trump has been mercifully incompetent.”
  5. “Now the world has reason to laugh at us – because we’re with stupid.”
  6. September 16, 2016 column:  “Dana Milbank: Yes, half of Trump supporters are racist.”
  1. “America First — remember that,” he said. “America First.” That’s deplorable.”

Consider this Mr. Milbank.  President Trump with his two months of service to our nation has served his country longer than you. He is trying everything he can to fulfill the promises made to those who elected him.  The President is the Commander in Chief of the World’s most powerful military force and the greatest country in the world.  Do you really want the President to be “mercifully incompetent” in his duties as Commander and Chief or, as you repeatedly say, stupid?  If so, then your progressive column is tantamount to un-America sentiment which would fit the definition of deplorable.   Insulting our President, and yes your President also Mr. Milbank, calling him the cartoon character’s name Elmer Fudd is extremely disrespectful, not only to him, but to the Office of the President as well.  Unlike his predecessor, he is working diligently to bring all Americans together and put our country first.

Every country wants their country to be first in their minds and hearts and patriotism is a love for your country; not hatred of the person running it or for the millions of supporters who are with the President.  Pride in one’s country is paramount for us to maintain a distinctive American culture.  We are not out of many, many; we are Out of the Many, One.  Calling half of the President’s supporters racist is beyond the pale and the Washington Post should be ashamed to allow you the space in their paper to print continually hateful columns.   I am probably one of the 50% whom you may call racist or deplorable but, if you check my background, speak to me and witness what I do and what I have done, your progressive opinion of a President Trump supporter would be shaken like an earthquake.   Free speech is a right but not absolute and I do not believe it should allow free personal insults.   Continued personal insults and verbal attacks goes against our American values of common decency and civility which you have now chosen to remove permanently from your columns.

I want President Trump to succeed for our country.  If it is by keeping out criminal aliens and possibly embedded criminal/terrorist refugees for a time until we can figure out the problem, then so be it. We can work together on an immigration reform bill but that will take bipartisanship, time,  and a willingness to dialogue.  Replacing an imploding health care system with one that will work is being created.  Undoubtedly it will take time, not please everyone, but will require a willingness to actually repair it from both parties.  Maybe, under the improved healthcare act, people will be able to keep their own doctor, keep their plans, and have premiums without unreachable deductibles.

Remember the first 60 days in with former President Obama?   He slammed through a stimulus bill for “shovel ready jobs” that did not ever exist or come to pass, told Americans under his nuclear option approved healthcare plan, they would be able to keep their own doctors and plans, and that premiums would decrease.  We all know now that was just not the case.   Now, nearly all insurance companies are bailing or considering bailing on this unsustainable Act.    Where were your columns on that?  You did not get your way in the election and you can address grievances all you want.  However, when you choose to be so disrespectful through personal insults to the President, so unpatriotic and hateful in your expressions of insults of racist, bigots, etc., to tens of millions of Americans, Patriots and Veterans like me who have served our nation, well we do take it personal.   The vast majority of us are not what you have called us or the President.

Veterans who have served and active duty now took an eternal oath to support the Office of the President and love our country.   For the overwhelming majority of us, we will always honor our oath because we took it without mental reservation or purpose of evasion.  There will always be party differences  but we have to take the time to respect, listen to learn, and tolerate the other side without resorting to what you have done in your column.  All Presidents should be held accountable for their actions but with the understanding that they can make mistakes and learn from them as all have.  The Washington Post states that you write about “political theater.”  Well this act that you are doing now must not have a curtain call.    Mr. Milbank, you owe President Trump an apology….now!

John Fuller, Ed.D.

Tolerance and Respect

Civil discourse seems to be a disappearing art form in American society.  Americans are experiencing deep division of respective political viewpoints.   We are experiencing this intensive division without being able to even start a meaningful dialogue.  Instead of accepting tolerance for others’ views as a modicum of respect, special interest groups, other activists and anarchists demand validation of their views and their views only. You cannot simply tolerate and respect their views but must now validate their views and agree with them.  If you do not, their next level is to label you with atrocious accusations or unwarranted name calling. By using these abhorrent tactics, opposing sides get nowhere regardless of who is doing it.

If you want to change someone’s mind you must be able to listen to learn yourself. Believe it or not, actual listening takes work and a degree of decorum. One must not assume ill intent from the outset. Get over that first judgement and remember that the person you are speaking with is a human being with a lifetime of experiences (or lack of experiences) that has shaped their thinking.  Sometimes your own implicit association will get in the way of a potential meaningful dialogue because you so defensive you forget that your main point was to present an idea. Not to start a personal argument.  Sometimes you have to withstand the first personal barrage of hateful rhetoric and remain as calm as you can be.  You will meet very few people who like to vehemently argue and fewer still who want to argue incessantly.  Many people do not understand that debate is not personal unless of course you or the other debater fall into that trap.  You will find that the majority of people in this country want to have a civil conversation with the other opposing side but without all of the drama we are seeing today.  

Ask questions of the other side because accusations lead nowhere and when you ask questions, people know they are being heard. Stay calm. Remove the ALL CAPS (proverbial shouting) from your social media postings; actually read what you are about to send and do not send in anger.  Pay special attention to mere finger pointing at the other side, and when in person, please dial down the volume and smile. A smile indicates that you are willing to listen.  Then, and only then, you can make your case.   It might be surprising to you to see progress with a little harmony, tolerance, and respect thrown into the mix.


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Peaceful Assemblies and Free Speech

After watching the despicable group of college students at Middlebury College in Vermont seemingly protesting a speaker, I felt it was time to address these protests again. The people who were protesting used planned phrases, turned their backs, shouted down any attempt for the invited speaker to talk. If they did not want to hear the speaker, no one was forcing them to come. Their best form of protest was to boycott or just remain silent and engage in dialogue afterward. They lost an opportunity to engage with another with controversial views and history and chose instead to remain inside their safe space and bubble atmosphere.

Protesters can become too resolute after their group becomes something else that does not fit the protester definition. Once that occurs, they become merely a one sided bullying gang without any chance for resolution or debate. They lose whatever message of grievance they have and also the support of others through their disgraceful actions. There is a difference having resolve for your conviction and taking resolute actions are merely unyielding, in your face to others with opposing viewpoints, and obstinate. A protest which devolves in this manner eliminates an assembly’s right of free speech and peaceful assembly given to all Americans within the Constitution. Remember that the right of free speech is not absolute and there are exceptions such as yelling fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire.

A group who peacefully assembles and protests their grievances must then allow their grievances not only to be heard but responded to. Otherwise they are just shouting at themselves while others are shut down without any opportunity to provide either explanation or rebuttal. Citizens who exercise their right to assembly to address grievances need to then listen to the free speech of the other side with respect no matter how much they disagree. There is zero respect for this new group of disruptive “protesters” who merely want to shout down, demean, disrupt, or vehemently insult or assault others either verbally or, in many cases now, physically. They are no longer protesters by any definition, but disruptive bullies who would choose anarchic actions versus even attempting to find common ground to move forward.

I challenge anyone who support these reactionaries merely with the comeback of “they have the right of free speech” since these groups are clearly not allowing free speech of others themselves. It is not acceptable, not the American way, and many of us are getting tired of in your face versus genuine face to face cooperation and dialogue. Mere resolute radical anger without respect does not solve anything; dialogue does have that chance.


Gateway to Race Relations


When I view all the committed, passionate volunteers who choose to attend each nationwide race relations dialogues I lead with World Café settings, it is a profound sight to behold and I am very humbled. I created and have now held 24 race relations dialogue sessions over the past year with hundreds of participants in the cities of Portland Oregon, Vancouver WA, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Northhampton MA, Washington DC, and Columbia, SC.  Many more cities are scheduled for the rest of 2017.  Volunteers have been from all races, ethnicities, religions, and age groups.  Many are coming together, most for the first time for this type of event, having a dialogue they have never had before with race.

Sure, there is a little nervousness or trepidation as would be expected with attempting something of this relevance, given the past and now current climate in our country.  Added to this experience is an anomaly.  I am a white male, conservative Baby Boomer who has over 20 years of professional diversity experience in high profile settings.  No one has tried this in the federal government before and it has been a personally rewarding experience for others and for me.  I felt the time had come to move beyond saying we need a conversation on race to starting one.  People in this country need this conversation and truly want to start it but so many have told me after the sessions, they just did not know where to start.

What everyone experiences in these sessions should be reflective of all Americans who want to work toward solutions versus merely supporting divisions.  Those who want to have a dialogue to start the conversation and work toward common ground.  Everyone in the arena with me is respected for their views even if others’ views are miles apart from the other volunteers in the room.  Having the close intimacy and recognition of genuine visual cues in the process which is explained below is valuable to reducing tension and increasing awareness of each other.   It is so far removed from non-disruptive town hall settings we see today with incivility taking over with only a few not allowing others to speak or respond to protesting complaints.

In my dialogue sessions, there is no sitting on your hands, refusal to participate, hurling insults or refusal to listen as is the case with social media.  The World Café setting I use gives participants a genuine opportunity to articulate their views on a given race relations question that I pose and work as a group for twenty minutes.  Each table then reports out after 20 minutes what the group discussed.  Four – six tables of 4-5 people are typically the size and there are 3 20 minute questions.  After the first and then again after the second question, everyone at their tables move to a completely different table to gain perspectives from most the other participants in the room.

It is utterly amazing how much people really want to talk about race relations.  By creating a hospitable environment (which the World Café setting provides), respect reigns.  People share their experience and listen to others for understanding, reflection and further dialogue.  Only in this way with the elimination of resistance, blame, and disruption can we truly find common ground to work with.  Several hundred have so far chosen to make a difference with this dialogue and more than a thousand are signing up to do so in future cities across the country.

What begins from a single dialogue with committed volunteer with vision; more will want to be a part of the conversation; the vision is to become an unparalleled, powerful employee and community experience. Together, we can improve race relations with genuine action, commitment, and caring.  Choose to be with those of us in the arena achieving common ground through awareness and respect,  finding workable solutions, and a way forward.