We are a non-partisan publication and I like to think of myself more of a ‘freethinker’. However, at the end of the day, and in the true sense of the word, I am a liberal– and I oppose Trump and the Republican party.
There’s something happening in my country that I simply cannot ignore.
Debate, discussion, and a pragmatic approach to politics is, more than I’ve ever witnessed before, taking a backseat to vilification, unprovoked violence, defamation of character and a generally vitriolic attitude towards one another.
Both sides of the political spectrum are guilty of this; drawing the conclusion of someone’s character and making brash assumptions about the individual based on one single piece of information– what their political affiliation is or who they voted for.
I do what I can to send this message to Trump supporters and conservatives as well, but sometimes people need to hear the message from their own “camp,” if you will.
What do we achieve by vilifying and ostracizing Trump supporters? What do we gain when we conclude, based on nothing more than party favoritism, that a person is a “racist,” “Nazi,” “sexist,” “homophobe,” or any number of buzzwords we can muster?
The most likely outcome is a reactionary one. One imbued in retaliatory defense and a fortification of support for Trump.
I like to talk to people. I like to have genuine conversation and see how and what people are thinking. Something interesting happens when you put aside the inflammatory antagonism; people open up.
I’ve talked to vehement Trump supporters who, at the beginning of our conversation, seemed to almost worship the guy. Once he realized that someone who was in opposition to Trump was treating him with respect and like an actual human being, the intensity of his support began to wane.
I’m not saying to be vindictive and enter into a discussion with someone to sort of trick them into changing their ideas. We have to accept that people think differently than we do, simple as that.
However, when you approach the discussion pragmatically, they may realize, on their own, that their level of support may have been heightened as an emotional response, a defensive response.
This cycle of back and forth lambasting and ad hominem attacks is counter-productive. It becomes a schoolyard of juvenile mudslinging and imbecilic banter.
We have to stop this nonsense. We have to get back to dialogue and the simple gesture of offering genuine debate.
Even if the person fits the myopic, archetypal media sensationalized image of a Trump supporter (racist, sexist, uneducated etc.) you should still be pragmatic and keep about you a sense of ethics. Ethics, as a liberal thinker, that demand thoughtful engagement and discussion from an egalitarian standpoint.
Emmy and Peabody award winning director Deeyah Khan, released a documentary in 2017, with her production company Fuuse, entitled ‘White Right: Meeting the Enemy.‘ In this documentary she would spend time with various hate groups and members of white nationalist organizations.
Deeyah Khan is a Muslim filmmaker.
I admire her courage to meet the people, who hated her, face to face, and attempted to understand their perspective and why they held their hateful beliefs.
An interesting thing happened with some of the white nationalists in the documentary. After meeting Deeyah and spending time with her, there were individuals who actually left the National Socialist movement. Their decision to leave was attributed directly to the time they spent with Deeyah.
There were people (both on the left and the right) who criticized her for her egalitarian, liberal approach.
It is, however, significant when you look at outcomes.
Her actions made more progress than all of the Molotov cocktails and mace spraying ever did from the militant left. Political violence from the left, according to academically acclaimed, Libertarian Socialist Noam Chomsky, is a “gift to the far-right and state repression“.
We need to examine our behavior and how we approach political discussion and politics in general. We’re never going to get anywhere with abrasive, personal attacks.
I encourage my fellow liberals to consider this and to spread this message.