My answer to the latest David Brooks nightmare-thing is that it's impossible to have a productive conversation with Trump voters, not because I refuse to honor their dignity, but because they've deliberately chosen a menacing alternate reality that threatens all our lives.
There is no middle ground to be found between reality and not-reality, and it isn't productive to try to find one.
All you can do with someone who has chosen to live in a lie is to refuse to enter the lie they inhabit, and continue to provide the example of a life lived in truth
None of these think-piece written by our flotilla of smug well-paid Civility Dudes—all of whom think the REAL problem is we don't listen to each other enough—ever contends w/the fact that supporting Trump is an abusive act of deliberate menace carrying real-world terror and harm.
None of these "we just don't listen to each other" think pieces ever contends with the fact that Trump voters aren't listening to anybody, and that support for Trump represents an implicit decision to not listen.
Not to us.
Not to journalists.
Not to evidence.
WE listen fine.
It's such a wearying canard to say we haven't listened to white Trump voters, who are likely the most flagrantly heard group of people in the entire history of humankind.
Their POV is simple—and wrong.
We understand it perfectly. We simply reject it.
You know who isn't listening? Ironically enough, it's centrist pricks like David Brooks, who crank out the same lazy garbage every week from the thickest most opaque ideological socio-political bubble confirmation bias has ever managed to create.
They aren't listening at all.
An abusive husband doesn’t beat his wife because of something the wife did.
A rapist doesn’t a woman because she was asking for it.
A father doesn’t abuse his kids because they were asking for it.
And Trump voters aren’t sticking with Trump because of something you did.
An abusive person abuses others to establish dominance through fear and pain.
Trump voters are with Trump because they like what he says and does.
Boundaries with abusive people are appropriate and needed.
Scolding people for establishing healthy boundaries is itself abuse.
And, yes, an abusive person is going to lie about why they did what they did, and cultivate relationships with those who believe those lies
And yes, asking someone who has been abused to believe lies is itself abuse
So much for the comfortable Civility Bros of the opinions page
No, not because they have a different POV. Because they intend harm and abuse—something I clearly stated and you deliberately ignored.
Tolerance is good. But excepting abuse is not tolerance. And we are not primarily about tolerance, but justice.
A lot of people fail to realize that tolerance is about acceptance of people’s right to exist, not acceptance of their abusive ideas or actions.
Here’s a thread from last year on the topic.
And calls for civility are all too frequently disguised attempts to coax unthreatened people to forgive abusers as proxies on behalf of that abuser’s chosen victim.
This allows the abuser to continue their abuse without consequence.
Hard to believe we wouldn’t seek a dialogue with this fella, isn’t it.
What this person describes isn't open-mindedness, but rather the comfort of an uncomplicated relationship; the peace an abusive person offers people his beliefs don't target.
Yet this peace isn't available to those living under threat of abusive policy.
This is another insidious aspect of a "both sides" mentality; it very frequently creates an agree-to-disagree dynamic that totally erases an entire spectrum of very real, very endangered people.
There's no peace I can make with a Trump voter that doesn't exclude my Muslim, or my LGBTQ, or my black, or brown, or immigrant, or asylum seeking, brothers and sisters.
All to appear and to feel "open-minded."
And that's by design.
Falling into this trap can make you think you're being open-minded, tolerant, when in fact you're simply helping somebody live a lie, by agreeing to join them in it, just a bit, only briefly.
And so you totally miss the point. As we see here:
Again, this isn't about giving up, or intolerance, and it's certainly not about hate.
It's not saying that Trump supporters are demons, or even that they don't have good qualities. We know they are family and friends.
They've just chosen to live a lie.
The lie is to believe that empowered abuse of marginalized people is good; also that indifference to it is fine if you have some reason—any reason.
Those who believe this lie want us to help keep them comfortable in that lie
I recommend a different path
Our overarching crisis is a Reality Crisis.
We have people who have deliberately chosen to enter a grim false alternate reality, and they want to force us into it
And they CAN force us into it, if we don't fight to maintain actual reality.
Donald Trump is president, after all.
And yet: there is truth, and there are lies. And while none of us inhabit truth perfectly, some have clearly chosen to inhabit a tribalist lie.
Entering the lie, or finding middle ground with them, doesn’t combat tribalism.
The opposite is true.
I see I haven’t named the lies in this main thread, though I’ve done so in other places, so here they are:
•We bear no responsibility to one another.
•Life must be earned.
•Profit is how you earn it.
I don’t think someone welcoming Somali refugees fleeing civil war is being tribal, nor do I think that it is the tribal impulse that would cause someone to fight to admit them.
I think that is somebody fighting past tribalism, against our foundational lies, to engage with truth.
I don’t think that a straight person fighting to allow gay marriage is being tribal.
I don’t think a comfortable person fighting to combat climate change already harming millions of others is being tribal.
But I do think those fighting against have chosen to live a lie.
What I do think is useful about this post is to remember that we aren’t fighting people, we’re fighting the lies they inhabit.
Or the spirit, if you’re spiritual.
But again: you don’t fight lies by entering into them, or by honoring them as if they were truth.
Instead, fight them by living the truth.
Refuse to enter the lie civilly, if you can, where are you can. Civility is good—but it’s often a luxury good. And civility is a tool that can be used with bad intent.
Never forget how many people are not permitted the luxury of resisting these lies in a calm or civil fashion.
Nor forget how many people are allowed no room to exist within these lies.
Someday, probably, it will be you.
Everyone gets old and sick, and unprofitable, if they are lucky.
How to get there?
Locate first the places in yourself you’ve internalized foundational lies & where you benefit.
And remember: we’re fighting lies, systems, spirit—not people.
Then live truth instead as well as you’re able. Confess truth. Reject lies.
You can follow @JuliusGoat.
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