Everyone that disagrees with me is a racist.
Not really, of course. In reality, people can disagree with me for any number of reasons across a broad array of issues, and race wouldn’t play into any of them. The fact that actual racists might have views that align in the same fashion doesn’t make that person racist themselves, it just means they’ve reached some similar conclusions on the issues, most likely by radically different means.
But apparently that’s the argument of a lot of people who are, shall we say, more than a little upset about Donald Trump’s victory at the polls.
I’m not exactly thrilled over it myself, obviously, since I’ve spent damn near the past year warning people that despite their overwhelming confidence in Hillary Clinton, she might well prove insufficient to the task.
Of course, given that I tended to phrase my warnings as “Hillary is a bad candidate” and not “Trump is an inhuman monster”, I was apparently shilling for Trump the whole time, according to the same people who also think that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is a racist, despite the fact that pretty much whenever I mentioned the man, I emphasized that he was by no means presidential material.
And that’s part of the problem.
You see, if your immediate reaction to any criticism of your candidate, particularly when it’s clearly deserved, is to immediately lash out with rhetoric that at the very least alienates the person you’re talking to, and more likely attempts to brand them with some sort of societal Mark of Cain, then while you might be bathing in the warm waters of self-righteousness, you’re also pissing away your one chance to convince that person to see things your way.
I say “one chance”, incidentally, because most people aren’t going to sit around and discuss things with you if you start screaming “RACIST! SEXIST! HOMOPHOBE!” at them because they don’t approve of, say, Hillary’s stance on military intervention in the Middle East.
All of these are things I’ve said before, of course. But what’s strange to me is the fact that not only have things not changed after the election, for many people, but they’ve instead doubled down on that hostile rhetoric, pushed further into screaming lunatic territory, and promised to go even further in the future.
Because clearly, that worked so well the first time.
If you find yourself inspired to work harder on the causes that matter the most to you, if you pledge to defend those who find themselves under attack, then kudos to you. Your approach is constructive, and helpful, for all parties involved.
On the other hand, if you find yourself shrieking on Twitter about how “flyover country” needs to be eradicated, about how the Democratic party should actively reject blue-collar white people, about how everyone who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton is a monster complicit in the imminent annihilation of the United States?
Yeah, you’re not helping. Anyone. Not yourself, not your “side”, not your party, not your people, and sure as hell not your argument.
You ever notice how when you read those heartwarming stories of some poor lost soul being rescued from the ideological grasp of racist organizations like the Klan or the Aryan Brotherhood, it’s never some shrieking harpy that convinced them to leave? No, somehow, bizarrely, it’s always someone who took the time to sit down with them, talk with them, empathize with them, and finally, once their defenses were down, point out how fucking ridiculous their racist belief system really was.
You may consider yourself a soldier on the front lines of the Great Culture War, but I hate to break it to you, you’re not the one who’s accomplishing anything. Because people don’t go away just because you disapprove of them. They don’t magically disappear because you call them nasty names. They just start tuning you out. Ignoring you, maybe even actively avoiding you, but the one thing they don’t do is change.
So when things like the election of Donald Trump happen, you should take this as an opportunity to reexamine how incredibly stupid your approach has been.
Not turn your ideological intolerance amplifier to eleven.