I am as distraught as I’m sure you are about the times in which we find ourselves. There are violent white supremacists marching in the streets; violent antifa activists who think they can take care of the situation; and most of us, who show up to say that we will act in a peaceful manner and make ourselves heard. We will stand against Islamaphobia, racism, and anti-Semitism. But is standing up and being seen enough? I think the answer to that question is no. Here is why.
We who are liberal are blind to those who voted for Trump. That is why Trump won the election. When you live in a bubble you do not have a whole lot to say about what will happen in a national election. I know – Hillary actually won the popular vote – but 63,000,000 people voted for Trump. Why is that? We need to know about the suffering of those who were so desperate for change that they voted for Trump.
Young conservatives become radicalized when they are treated as less than human. Groups like the Patriot Prayer folks who were about to rally in San Francisco, are paranoid and feel a persecution complex. When you beat them up; when you do not recognize that they are human beings, they become more and more radicalized and may eventually become more extreme than they already are.
I was impressed with how individuals who were likely from the Patriot Prayer group walked through the crowd at the Civic Center in San Francisco and were not harassed. They were just there – no issue at all. The situation in Berkeley was completely different. The antifa people, who, apparently, love a good fight, may have helped radicalize people to a more extreme position than they originally held.
Having peace requires being peace, as we will always remember from the Civil Rights Movement.
The Southern Poverty Law Center offers a list of 10 ways to counter hate. Below is a summary:
- Join forces
- Support the victims
- Speak up
- Educate yourself
- Create an alternative – do not attend a hate rally. Find another outlet for anger and frustration and for people’s desire to do something. Hold a unity rally or parade to draw attention away from hate.
- Pressure leaders
- Stay engaged
- Teach acceptance
- Dig deeper. Look inside yourself for biases and stereotypes. Commit to disrupting hate and intolerance at home, at school, in the workplace, and in faith communities.
I would add that as we educate ourselves and dig deeper, that we look at our own demonization of those who disagree with us, and see if we are projecting something undeserved on those who may not be as extreme as the most radical right-wing Nazi white supremacists. There are organizations like livingroomconversations.org, and Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. We need to talk to each other before it’s too late and we end up being divided beyond repair.