A hypothetical guide to surviving Trumpland without becoming a walking hyperbole
I wrote about holding onto it after the election, and channeling it to good use, maintaining support of programs that will be cut, calling representatives and calling out systemic racism by supporting local social justice chapters. But when does outrage cease to become effective? When does it cross the line into what most just hear as noise, or perhaps the soft and muted honking of adults in Charlie Brown cartoons?
Many progressives are gearing up for a war, and perhaps this is what needs to happen, but I wonder how many are ready for the moral sacrifices a war entails? Yes, the things we see happening are wrong, pure and simple. The hatred we see every day towards Muslims, Jews, immigrants, the black community, LGBTQ people and so many more marginalized groups makes my blood boil.
It makes me feel ready to punch a Nazi, or so seems the popular trope among my peeps today. But, in the real world, not just in the awesome Captain America movies, is that going to be what helps us win the larger victory of change? When I drag my eyes away from Buffy or Supernatural for long enough to remind myself what real violence looks like, I don’t know if that is what puts us on the right side of history.
The image above is an illustration of the Hep-Hep Riots, the 1819 attacks on the Jews in Germany nearly 150 years before Hitler. The riots came after a time of social and political upheaval (sound familiar?) and the perpetrators of the riot were absolutely sure that they were right.
I’m not saying that we are NOT right now, but I do think that we are reacting before we get to the end of the story. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us that “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness” and I think we need to listen.
So, how to we find a way to continue to resist and fight against hatred and bigotry without letting the sparks of our outrage set a fire we can’t stop?
Consider this brief guide of hypothetical situations:
- A senator that you previously respected just said that she didn’t think Trump’s skin was “that orange.” How COULD she? I also heard her say once that she hopes Trump is successful in not starting any globe-demolishing nuclear wars. Um, a statement of support?! #FIRESOANDSOSENATOR!
Words do have power, and the wrong words can deeply wound, or even limit the rights of whole groups of people. But here’s how a situation like the one above plays out:
- A liberal says something that could, in Crazy Backwardsland, U.S.A., be considered a statement of support for Trump.
- Hungry outraged liberals see an article that says “Guess Who Loves Trump?!” with a big picture of the aforementioned liberal.
- While the text of the article makes it clear that the liberal in question merely suggested that she is hopeful that Trump will change some of his prejudicial policies and be successful in building a more experienced and progressive cabinet, few people read beyond the headlines or bother to watch the video of that person speaking those words.
BACKLASH time, bitches!
Now, three months later, people are still making comments on this person’s official social media page about the misquoted support of Trump and why they’ll never support someone who doesn’t think about what they do and say. I can almost smell the hypocrisy, but … it’s actually kind of pleasant! Like a cup of black coffee with triple-cancerous peppermint mocha creamer and about five splendas. Mmmmmmmm.
Consider the Van Jones issue. He made a statement that Trump appeared presidential, even though he stated it more as a warning, few people bothered to take a beat and watch the video. All they heard were the words “Trump” and “Presidential” and they proceeded to hulk out in full force.
It’s okay to say that you aren’t cool with what someone said, but remember: people like Van Jones are actually trying to reach out and talk to Trump supporters. It’s not the worst idea to have someone who undercover recruits Trumpists away from the movement, and if you’re actually gearing up for that war, you would bring someone like that into the fold instead of stalking his Facebook page and making nasty comments about one statement he made every time he posts.
So, think: is your outrage helping or is it just creating unnecessary noise that blocks out the real injustices happening right now?
2. You just watched a speech you thought was really touching, but then you saw an article the next day that read: “THAT SPEECH YOU LOVED WASN’T TOUCHING, IT WAS GENOCIDAL, AND YOU’RE A TERRIBLE PERSON FOR LIKING IT!”
Ok, take a breath. You’re not a terrible person. Well, unless the speech was about how great it is to strangle toddlers. Then, you probably are — sorry.
This has become a strangely prevalent thing in 2017— anything that is remotely trending or popular will be thrown serious shade the next day. Why? It gets clicks and likes and views, oh my! But I’ve seen two reactions to these articles after the fact:
- Either a person refuses to admit they also found the speech (or ad/movie/comment) touching, and shares the shade-throwing article, or
- they get crazy butt-hurt and edge one more notch towards the right on the conserv-o-meter.
Let me throw out a radical idea. You can love something, and continue to love it while still acknowledging its flaws. Isn’t that what being married, in a relationship, or parenting is?
Yep, pretty much.
3. You just heard that a group of anti-Trump protesters attacked a cadre of Trump supporters. It makes you cringe that your “side” would be responsible for such violence but you’re afraid to say so because some people may think you’re a Trump supporter.
I might as well be writing this one for myself. So, I’ll be a little harsher.
Some people might think you are a Trump supporter. Some people might think you’re a toaster. Who cares?
Yes, you might be considered part of the problem if you say that violence is not the answer to the problem we have in the United States right now. But, what’s your long game? Pretend to love violence? Hide in the shadows but scream “YAY STABBING!” on social media? Instead of wasting your time pretending to be someone else, try asking yourself some questions about how you can contribute to resisting hatred without violence. Quoth Polonius: “To thine own self be true.”
4. You just found out one of your friends is a libertarian. One of YOUR friends! Can you believe it? I mean, he probably believes in shooting people on sight! He probably lives in Trump’s butt-hole! OFF WITH HIS HEAD!!!
I can’t believe I have to say this, but some people have differing beliefs about the government. Hate is hate, and you should resist that. You should fight for those people that cannot fight for themselves without fear. But some people just have, like, slightly different beliefs than you. Just because they aren’t in your party doesn’t mean they are suddenly a fascist. And just because they don’t believe in full-scale gun control doesn’t mean they’re “totes down with school shootings” or that they are a rabid card-carrying NRA member. Just because they favor individual liberties over the federal policy doesn’t mean they don’t support healthcare for all.
If someone has a differing belief than your own, try talking about it with them. Ask them about what they think and why. You may actually learn something. Libertarians and Progressives can be friends. Just ask these guys:
I wish you all luck. While the theme of this year has definitely been that the road to hell is paved with moderates, I would point out that the road paved with angry mobs and snap generalizations isn’t going to lead you anywhere better than hell. In fact, it might be somewhere a whole lot worse.