If I hear one more liberal opine about how we need to ‘understand the other side,’ I swear, I’ll scream.
First off, let’s be clear. I’m not talking about your uncle Karl. You know the guy I’m talking about. Maybe he’s a little off-color or doesn’t really get what all the fuss is about, but basically he’s a decent guy. He might be Republican, maybe even voted for Trump, but he’s not one of the blistering racists who have been getting all the attention lately. He’s pissed about NAFTA, rightly so, and doesn’t trust ‘big government,’ except for social security, medicare, and roads, and a million other things he takes for granted and does not realize the government provides. He’s been watching nothing but FOX for ten years, and he doesn’t know any better. He is probably going to be in for a bit of a shock. Talk to him, if you have the energy, and if you feel you can bring him along with little injury to his pride. There may yet be hope for Karl.
It’s the True Believers I’m talking about. The rabid Christo-fascists running the current administration. The dominionists. The people who actually question Obama’s nationality. The ones who were celebrating the ’50 pedophiles’ who were killed during the Pulse massacre. The ‘Tea Party activists.’
By my reckoning, at least 10% of the population of the U.S. belongs to this group. The number is unscientific, but reasonable. 25% of the U.S. (roughly) voted for Trump in the general election. Some of those did so for various reasons. They’ve always voted Republican. They actually believed Trump would renegotiate the trade deals to their advantage, not just the 1%’s advantage. Maybe they wanted to believe that Trump would actually reduce corruption as an outsider. Uncle Karl.
However, the ascendance of a radical group (not SO radical, really, for anyone who has been paying attention to Republican rhetoric for the last 20 years) requires a significant minority to leverage a party in their direction. Hence the 10%.
Don’t talk to them, they will merely gaslight every story you tell.
Don’t compromise with them, they will only feel emboldened to take more.
Don’t try to ‘understand them.’ Do you want to understand what they want? Here it is: complete dominance.
They want women to return to their proper place: as servants and property of men.
They want blacks and other racial minorities to return to their proper place: as servants and slaves to whites.
They want recent immigrants, and everyone who might look like them, to return to their proper place: ‘back where they came from.’ (They all are, but this one seems particularly dripping in irony, imo.)
They want gays, lesbians, transgender people, and other sexual and gender ‘deviants’ to return to their proper place: closeted, as prostitutes, or dead.
They want non-Christians to return to their proper place: subservient to the whims of the dominant religion, which of course is their own particularly virulent version of fundegelicalism.
They want dominance, full and complete, and will never be satisfied with less. Got it? Good. Now that you understand them, perhaps you can join the fight in resisting them.
As a transwoman, one of their favorite recent targets, I have faced them personally and studied their worldview for years. I was even married to one who converted after our children were born, and still bear the emotional and psychological scars to prove it. I cannot see anything to be gained in conversation with anyone who starts off the conversation with assumptions about my non-humanity.
Don’t get me wrong. It CAN be done. Daryl Davis is a black man who has done just that, with leaders of the KKK. But it takes a LONG time and a lot of effort, and people are dying in the meanwhile. I don’t have the energy or time. And right now, these hateful bigots and misogynists have way to much power to mess around with.
When your toddler picks up a loaded handgun and points it at grandma, it is not time to sit and have a chat with your lovely, misguided child. First, you take the freaking gun away.
So, no, I will not be joining the lovely, white, reasonably well-off, guilt-ridden liberals in trying to ‘understand’ the opposition. I already do, and they pretty much want me, as a transwoman, worse yet,a transwoman who speaks her mind, crushed under their heel. They want me silent, ashamed and hidden from public. If I fail to comply, they want me hurt or dead. If I were black, especially if I were so marginalized as to have to resort to sex work, they would often feel free to act upon those impulses.
Funny thing about those liberals. I don’t see them working with black people, or the homeless, or the lgbtqietc community. I don’t hear them talking about trying to understand those of us who have been crushed or marginalized under administrations Democratic and Republican alike. No. They wrack themselves with guilt over the ‘poor, misunderstood’ fascists who now control everything and are intent on destroying it all.
They do not need understanding. We do.
They do not deserve to have their voices amplified and legitimized. We do.
They do not deserve the power to dominate and crush others. No one does. We’re not actually fighting for that, just for the power to live our own lives with some semblance of dignity.
Talking to these people does not lead you to a higher place where we can join hands and sing Kum-by-ya around a campfire. It leads to frustration for us, and greater power and perceived legitimacy for them.
Your time would be better spent, imo, questioning your own privilege that makes communing with the fascists – yes, that is what they are, with domination justified by bigotry – seem like a useful, fruitful enterprise. Your time would be better spent talking to the marginalized communities whose lives are affected in real and palpable ways beyond moral outrage and virtue-signaling.
Oh, and Karl? You might not be one of these folks, but you DID vote for them. I’m hoping you are rethinking your position at this time. It’s okay to change your mind. It’s okay to admit you are wrong. Just like it’s okay for the Democratic Party to admit they are wrong about corporate political triangulation. I’m hoping you do.