How To Kill a Civil Rights Movement


Two days in, and already people are going nuts about the Right’s reaction to the march.  Did anyone expect anything less?  I am seeing way too many people on the left giving these criticisms way too much credence, in an attempt to answer these criticisms with reason and logic.

It won’t work.

I lived with abuse for years, and the playbook is very straightforward.  The right uses it with incredible regularity.

First, they try to disparage the message.  “What are you even marching for?  We won, get over it!  C’mon, just give him a chance!”

Next, they question the method.  “Don’t march, sit down and dialog.  There was one incident of violence in a protest of 50,000 people.  Therefore, the march was violent an un-American.”

Another important tool in the abuser toolbox is to attack the speaker.  Every single person is human, we all have foibles and faults, and no one is perfect.  This game uses that fact to find something – anything, really – that they can criticize about the message-giver.  “Why are they so angry?  You shouldn’t swear.  That person once publically stated a really unpopular opinion.”  If there is no scandal, or anything they can scandalize, they make something up.  Remember the corrupt Obama administration?  No?  That’s okay, question his citizenship, label him partisan for not doing our bidding, etc.

The tendency of many people on the left is to counter these arguments with reason and logic.  This will never work.

I am not speaking categorically of every person who voted for Trump, or even every Republican in office right now, although as they continue to roll out an extremist agenda, both nationally and locally, I have to admit the circle is widening.  I have personally known many decent, salt-of-the-earth conservatives and am not even trying to make anyone answer for their votes.  We are all adults, we all have complicated, numerous reasons for our choices.  Right now, however, much of Republican policy and direction seems to be directed by extreme right-wing conservatives, who are intent upon enacting a highly anti-Constitutional authoritarian regime based largely upon Dominionist principles.


Abusers are not interested in the truth, or facts, or compassion, or fairness, although they will often couch their abuse in those terms.  Think concern trolling.  “I’m okay with the transsexuals, I just don’t think children should be exposed to them, as they might get confused.”  The goal is one thing, and one thing only: dominance.

This is why engaging will never get resolution.  They are not trying to understand the movement, or make it reasonable and inclusive, or engage in dialog.  They are trying to undermine it.

First, they lied about the numbers.  That didn’t work, although there are probably nutters claiming that thousands of independent photos were all edited.

Now, they question the method.  Don’t protest, try having a dialog.  I promise you, the only dialogue these people want is one where they tell you how it is.

They have already started attacking individuals.  Rosie O’Donnell is attacking Trump’s children!  The implication is that really, we on the left are devoid of morals, therefore nothing we say or do is of value and is discredited.  People will say stupid things.  None of that invalidates the message, but make no mistake, that is the goal.

Trust me, if there had been one single incident of violence, one crime, it would have been blown up out of proportion and used to discredit the March and by association, everything we stand for.

So, what happens when we try to engage?  Nothing.  The manipulators do not, will not, cannot ever agree, compromise or back down.  The goal isn’t a meeting of minds or respectful dialogue, although they will pretend it is.  The goal is dominance and creating doubt.  Engaging, spreading their lies, only gives them attention and a veneer of respectability.  They deserve neither.  They will certainly NEVER accord it to us.

Please understand that you will never win this game.  They pretend at playing by adult rules of decency, but they are not.  We will never be good enough, no matter how we dialog, how we protest.  They pretend it’s about decency and morals, but it’s not about anything other than dominance.

Propaganda isn’t so much outrageous lies as it is making arguments to discredit the other side.  Every time it is spread, even by decent liberals wanting to share their outrage and debunk their arguments, they gain visibility, power and legitimacy.  I really don’t think they deserve any of that.

Here it is: bigotry is wrong. Period.  Every excuse for it (religion, opinion, etc) is wrong.  Any policy which takes away our power is wrong.  I feel very comfortable being unequivocal about these statements, and so should everyone else.

By all means, talk to your uncle who doesn’t quite get what all the fuss is about.  The woman at work who thinks feminism has nothing to offer her.  Plenty of others.  I suspect a lot of Trump voters are going to be having a bit of buyers’ remorse, once they discover what they actually voted for.  And I suspect the 40-something percent of US citizens who stayed home last November will have something of an awakening of their own.  Talk to them.  Talk to the Democrats, either friends or family, or elected officials who might not see the seriousness of the situation yet, and need a little inspiration to get active.  There is plenty of fertile ground for discussion.  Just accept that there are times, and people who will not enter that discussion in anything approaching fairness.  I wouldn’t waste energy on them at this point.  It’s more important, and useful, in my opinion, to apply some pressure where it will do some good, and stand up with, talk to, listen to with respect, and empower the many minorities whose lives will be directly impacted by the upcoming changes.

But do not give the haters, the abusers in charge, the legitimacy of rationality and discussion.  They have proven they don’t deserve it.  All of their efforts will be to discredit and disempower the momentum of the movement, and this, we cannot have.  If we are to build something larger, we need to be aware of the nature of the attacks, so we can properly focus our energy for positive change.

Don’t burn out on this bullshit now, there’s plenty more to come, and real work to do.  Leave the haters at the kiddie table to make fart jokes.  The adults have more important things to worry about.


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