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How to Talk to Trump Voters

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Yesterday I wanted Trump voters who are Facebook friends to know my position on their vote. I regret that I was silent before the election. My request that Trump voters unfriend me was two-fold. First, I had no idea who they were if they didn’t have “Trump/Pence” wallpaper. Second, it was intended as a courtesy. I was letting them know my assessment of their vote—that it was ignorant and bigoted.

Trump voters found my assessment offensive.

It is not—nor was it intended as such.

It is not offensive to name behavior. It helps. It clarifies.

I use ignorance because it means uninformed and without knowledge. There is not an inherent negativity to the word or definition.

Here are a few of the many subjects on which I am ignorant: fracking, engines, the Middle East, Chaucer, llamas and the periodic table. It should go without saying that I should not make decisions on these subjects in a way that will affect the lives of people.

“Can I work on your car’s brakes? I have strong opinions about them.” The answer is no. I should not do so without knowledge and information. Actual knowledge. True things. Not my general inklings about brakes.

I have heard this sentence spoken aloud: “Trump is not a bigot.”

That is an opinion or a feeling, but in fact, the man’s actions and behaviors repeatedly illustrate the term bigot. It means to exhibit intolerance of social groups—an intolerance rooted in hatred. Hatred based on religion, race, gender, ability, sexuality, etc. There is no acceptable rationale under which it is excusable to be a bigot.

Bigotry has extreme consequences for the groups who it targets. Trump voters are not victims of bigotry (though some have claimed to be.) I do not, in fact, hate them. I strongly condemn the results of their actions which is much different. Electing Trump has great risk to (further) violate the human and civil rights of multitudes of people.

Genocides, crimes against humanity, violence, oppression, and civil and human rights violations occur as a result of bigotry.

I understand that many in the Trump conglomerate believe that Trump is not a bigot–but that belief has zero impact on the fact that he is one. Further, they believe that, even if he is bigoted at times, their vote divorces from his personal behavior related to bigotry.

That is, one can vote Trump (for whatever reason and with whatever rationalization) and themselves still be a decent person with no interest in bigotry or its promotion or effects.

A Trump voter may admit that Trump exhibited bigotry, but that their support of him is separate from those aspects. They deplore the grabbing of pussies, the ridicule of disability, most racism and are very good people.

My argument, and my stake here, is that this separation is not possible. One cannot have voted for Trump without also voting for bigotry in addition to the range of other issues at play (economic reform, SCOTUS appointments, Hillary opposition or whatever.)

Since bigotry will and does hurt humans, to accept it, even silently and tacitly, is to support its existence.

I cannot and will not condone bigotry in any instance. My politics on this issue do not allow for a spectrum.

Sexism is always wrong. Every time. In every case. (Rape is intolerable and so is locker room talk. Every time.)

Racism is always wrong. Every time. In every case. (Lynching and slavery were deplorable. And so is saying blacks have nothing to lose or other coded language that degrades. Every time.)

We can go on and on and examine the multiple affronts to every social group to which Trump has exhibited bigotry. And it every case, that instance of bigotry is inexcusable. Indefensible.

Here is the rub: Bigotry is always wrong. Every time. In every case. There is no spectrum.

The Trump vote, therefore, on whatever grounds it was made, must support bigotry since it gives power to a bigot who has bigoted plans. In fact, that vote normalizes bigotry at the same time it erases it.

Since my Facebook posting I have been called unhinged, a bully, a sore loser, a shamer, a bad friend, a bigot, and the embodiment of Trump himself.

I hear these assessments. I disagree with them. I will not be silenced. I renew my position, but add this:

I have called Trump voters bigoted and ignorant. In doing so, I was exhibiting compassion.

Including ignorance in tandem with bigot is act of compassion toward Trump voters. That ignorance, that lack of knowledge, is the only mode via which they can get off the hook for supporting bigotry–bigotry which has already hurt in tangible ways (across a vast spectrum) the social groups who the president-elect targets.

Those Trump voters who claim to disavow bigotry may be merely uninformed.

They may be without knowledge.

Their ignorance is, in fact, their salvation.

Rather than rail against these neutral terms that describe behavior, instead, I advise the offended Trump voter would do the following:

  1. Listen to the voices of people who are hurt by bigotry
  2. Take a critical and analytical eye to the consequences of their vote for Muslims, blacks, Latinos, Hispanics, women, gays, lesbians and all the multitudes of those who are differently-abled, have non-mainstream religions, sexualities, gender identifications and ethnicities, and everyone who has been left out of this vast listing.
  3. Do not silence, or attempt to silence, our voices.

If a Trump voter takes umbrage to being named as a bigot or as ignorant, then these steps enable work against the former and actively change the latter.

 

 

 

 

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