You need both: How to change (#notall) bad guys’ minds: A deliberately controversial post

Important notice:  today is a national call about saying no to the wall and yes to end the shutdown day.  We need phones to ring or our senators of every hue will think that the only people who care are the Fox News viewers who have been telling them to build the wall.  Here is the 5calls script https://5calls.org/issue/end-the-government-shutdown-with-no-strings-attached- and here is the indivisible script and explainer  https://indivisible.org/resource/trumps-latest-temper-tantrum-and-showdown-over-wall .

Now back to your regularly scheduled blogpost.

There’s been a lot of talk about whether it’s better to punch Nazis/shun Trump supporters, or whether it is better to listen and gently try to change them.  It’s always presented as an either/or.  The NY Times and other publications write article upon article about how the left needs to be more tolerant.  (Narrator:  It doesn’t.)

Here’s my no-research-done opinion.  We need the majority of people out there shunning Nazis/Trumpists and a much smaller number of selfless souls willing to be the “good cop” to gently listen to their feefees and to explain to them how to make their way back into society as non-racists.  We need people yelling at politicians in restaurants and throwing pies in Nazi faces and dis-inviting racist uncles from dinner and we need a lot more of them than we need that one empathetic person that picks up the pieces later.

At a recent faculty retreat, one of the professors made the point that our students don’t realize their writing is bad until they get bad grades on it.  Only then do they start listening to how to improve it.  Gently correcting comments are ignored if there’s an A on the front of the first page.  In the same way, we need a strong front of letting people know what is unacceptable in society, and then a little bit of gentle direction on how to fix it.  But not everybody has to be the teacher.  In fact, it isn’t any good if there are no social consequences and everybody accommodates the missing stair.

So go out there and be intolerant of racists!  Do it without guilt!  If you see one that has reached the bottom and wants a hand up, go ahead and listen (#DeliciousNaziTears) if you want to, but don’t feel obligated.  And certainly don’t feel the need to be nice to one who isn’t already questioning.  It’s not your job to be the Nazi Whisperer.  These people don’t deserve more time than the people that they are hurting.

Book recommendation: So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo.  Give it to everyone you know.  Then resume yelling at racists and telling them to get on up out of here with their wack opinions.

Grumpeteers, what do you think?

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17 Responses to “You need both: How to change (#notall) bad guys’ minds: A deliberately controversial post”

  1. Debbie M Says:

    That’s a very interesting analogy about students and their writing. As a student, I had the opposite experience. I would know that my writing or swimming or whatever could have used improvement, but my instructors would just tell me I was fine and not give me any advice or help (though at least I got good grades).

    I’m not up to shunning racists, but I am up to shunning their racist comments, in their face. Or at least I think I am, because mostly I am surrounded by people who get it. But maybe I’m just a wimp. Well, at least I called about the wall today. Cruz’s rep said she thought he was in talks about getting the government open but that he would not commit to voting against the wall and for a clean bill. Had to leave a message for Cornyn. Didn’t think to ask a question of my Rep. but he has to add a mark to the anti-wall tally.

    Otherwise I really like your advice. You may be happy to know that my public library has many copies of _So You Want To Talk About Race_ and every one of them is checked out and there are many holds on it.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      p.s. When I called, I got someone right away for both my senators, so they’re obviously not getting enough calls(!)

      p.p.s. A student made a, “Well, actually…” sexist comment today in class and I said he shouldn’t say stuff like that because it makes him sound like a douche. Thankfully I have tenure.

      • chacha1 Says:

        hee hee those “well, actually” comments are SO ENRAGING. patriarchy puppies must be housebroken.

        There used to be some DJT apologists I’d see on my FB feed. They seem to have noped on out of there since I went public as a Tree-Hugging Hippie and Crone Against the Patriarchy. I mostly post actual news stories but I have a true-blue resister friend and I share a lot of his stuff. My rationale there is that I know his history and his environment, and I know that having someone share what you think can feel really warm & fuzzy when the rest of your environment is playing Switzerland and waiting to see how it all shakes out.

        The one thing we cannot afford to be is Neutral.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        We cannot afford to be neutral!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Patriarchy puppies! What a good phrase. We should metaphorically bap them on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper and say NO! Bad puppy!

        (Do not bap actual puppies.)

  2. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    All of the above is also my answer. Very few of them will change their minds but I do know of at least one person who did and that was through prolonged discourse and their seeing that harms he did firsthand. But for most Trump supporters, the harm is the point they wanted him in. It’s only when the harm hits them where it hurts that they might change their mind, but probably not their (racist bigoted) tune.

  3. becca Says:

    Called my Senators yesterday. Mike Braun’s voicemail was all filled up, Todd Young got a message from me that the Trump shutdown has lasted 1.5 times longer than the longest one in history previously, and they look *at least* 1.5 times as incompetent.

    I remain throughly unconvinced there is a “right” answer for how to handle the eejits. For example, FB’s algorithm has changed. Rather than the Trump supporters noping out, I suspect it is more likely that FB has just guided chacha away from them.
    In person, with someone where there is some redeemable relationship, most of us err toward being a little more patient and gentle. Online, I wonder if any of it does any good, tbh. How many things have you changed your mind on because of an online discussion?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      re: your last question

      When I was on mommy forums, I was often swayed by the majority opinion on the forum for things that when off the forums I really don’t care much about. Of course, I tended to only be on fora where the majority opinion on most topics wasn’t awful, so there was already that underlying trust that we generally agreed on most things, so these new things I was more likely to trust that I could trust the majority opinion… it was only after leaving that my opinions became way less strong.

      There’s an ironic comic going around by some bigot wherein the “straw man” talks about how he used to be really homophobic, but now culture has changed to make homophobia less acceptable so he’s starting to agree with the more tolerant people. The protagonist of the comic then whines that he’s going to be the last one left. (It’s ironic because it’s kind of a bigoted self-own.)

    • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

      There have been times I’ve convinced a couple people, gently, online that their discourse was veering towards misogyny even though their intent was to criticize someone’s political views and though they were resistant at first, they came around. It’s not for everyone but once in a while, it’s worth the effort. Hard to tell when, though, is one of the challenges.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I have noticed through my life that most people behave themselves around me even if they don’t behave themselves around other people. I guess all those years growing up Catholic were good for learning how to shame people.

      • becca Says:

        I think that’s a fair perspective. I suppose I can only count a handful of conversations in my *life* that I remember *specifically* how they changed my mind about things. But maybe the cumulative nudging that happens online and off can add up. Like, I don’t remember when I decided investing was a good thing for me, but this blog definitely helped!

        And “worth the effort” is a good way of thinking of it rather than simply “effective or not”. Because sometimes it isn’t hard for me at all, and other times it’s very difficult- a lot depends on my own status and why I care about the issue and the relationship (if any) with the other person.


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