Hate exists. It was here before Trump, and will persist for a long time to come.
I will ask you to abandon the immediate arguments that Hillary and the establishment were no good for our country in the hopes instead that you will listen with an open mind. I am also willing to concede that the Democratic National Convention option election cycle was less than stellar.
With that said, social science and history point very clearly to the idea that recent steps toward Trump’s presidency are moving us to a place where hate becomes the acceptable social norm of a no longer democratic society.
Lately, many of us seem to be mistaking violations of our civil or human rights with simple disagreement with the law. The former is overtly driven by hate – the intentional violation of another’s basic human or civil rights – whereas the latter is based on simple preference. You can, for example, hold Christian beliefs in this country (your clear religious freedom) that disagree with a bakery owner not being able to refuse a same-sex couple service. This belief, your simple preference based on personal ideology, is your right to disagree with policy. It is not, however, a state-sponsored violation of your religious rights. No harm is done to you. No intentional act limits your ability to speak, attend service, wear your crosses, or anything else.
Much of the politically and religiously driven noise (say for example, Trump’s rhetoric concerning immigrant rapists, nasty women, radical Islam) arguing that such events or laws constitute “rights violations” are merely said to instill fear in the masses of the majority groups in order to selfishly maintain political and economic power. You, the average American majority group member – be you white, middle/upper class, Christian, straight, etc. – are merely the lamb led to the propaganda slaughter. I should know – I am a part of every majority group. Hence, I try to stop, think, and carefully consider whether my own emotions are getting the better of me. I strive for better decision-making. As a majority group member, I would argue that it is my social responsibility to do so.
I will further demonstrate how simple bias or preference are either mistakenly or intentionally used by many majority group members to misrepresent minority group concerns about civil rights violations in order to instill fear in the masses.
The following examples are just simply not human or civil rights violations:
1) Someone wishing you “Happy Holidays.” The “attack on Christmas” is fear-mongering and propaganda used to instill fear in you. It is aimed at activating your fear and anger so you are easier to manipulate into supporting policies and decision-making that likely negatively impact you just as much as other groups of people different from you.
2) Peaceful, non-violent protest, be it by a football player or everyday citizens. Portrayal of such legal rights as “unpatriotic” or acts against the state is fear-mongering to further foster the social-political divide and push an agenda.
3) Promoting science and logical reasoning on issues such as climate change, political polling processes, or other social, political, legal or environmental topics. The fact that the masses literally run screaming away from data may be sending us down a very dangerous path toward interpersonal conflict, civil unrest, and the deterioration of resources.
The following are examples of civil or human rights violations:
1) Spray painting swastikas or other such symbols, or racial epithets (or other bigoted terms) on someone’s property. Such acts violate one’s ability to live in a free society and are against the law.
2) Hurling objects at, or directing physical violence toward, a member of the GLBTQ, Muslim, or any other community (including Christians) simply because they belong to a specific group of people. Under U.S. federal, or international, law, as well as defined by social scientific processes, these are hate crimes – objectively observable acts with the intent of fear, intimidation and/or injury toward a person based on his or her actual group membership. They are, again, illegal.
So how do you know if your rights were violated? How should you judge if you are engaging in thinking or acting in such ways that are (un)intentionally making it easier for the hateful members of the populous to rise? Think. Self-reflect. Engage in logical conversation. Carefully consider whether perceived threats to your “rights” may be due, in part, to your own fear of change or unconscious bias, or perhaps misrepresentation of such vulnerable groups as hateful by members of your own majority group seeking power for their own gain.
To that end, recent events have witnessed a fragile narcissist come to power by, in part, engaging in ethnocentric rhetoric and a cult of mindless following. This soon-to-be leader has antagonized foreign allies and enemies alike. He has promoted an agenda literally and figuratively aimed at disenfranchising entire groups that either do not look like him, or voice any level of disagreement with him. He has made promises to a disillusioned majority group to make the nation(alistic pride) great again! He has appointed a set of upper class white oligarchs and military personnel to deconstruct basic infrastructure. He, and his family, are striving toward stream rolling media access and free press.
And he is not even yet in power. Once in power, we can expect probable and overt attempts to consolidate power, especially using any terrorist or domestic attacks as justification. These same steps, the very ones fostering more justification of hate in America now, are the same exact set of circumstances that preceded Nazi Germany and WWII. Average Joe American Citizen may think it impossible in our wonderful democracy that such a despot could seize power. Literally every single opponent to him has fallen by the wayside thus far. Average Joe American may also deny that these sets of circumstances are actually happening, or may not care because he or she remains unaffected without the wherewithal to realize that white skin can only protect you for so long. This same denial and complacency was rampant among German citizens before WWII. We are heading down a dark and dangerous path by failing to resist Trump’s America. The reasons why we, the majority, tend to disagree with, yet insufficiently oppose, this type of authoritarian leadership have been expressed very eloquently in a historical scoping of Nazi Germany compared to Trump’s rise.
I implore you fellow majority group Americans – middle- to upper-class, males, Christians (of all denominations), straight, White, and by any other name – to use common sense and decency, to pay attention to data and history, to act now and stop what is coming. Stop engaging in beliefs and behaviors that promote misinformation, empower the dangerous fringes, and heighten our risk for domestic and international conflict. Do not become Nazi Germany. Do more. Be better. Learn from history. Do not stand idly by while your own personally elected government of militaristic oligarchs tear the basic fabric of this country apart from the inside out, while also putting us in further international harm’s way.
How can we gauge whether our emotions or implicit bias are getting the better of us?
Here are a few suggestions:
1) If you’re willing to take just a few minutes, and accept social and cognitive sciences may have something helpful to say, visit Project Implicit. This program provides quick, simple online accessible tests to estimate your relative susceptibility to different types of unconscious bias or emotional decision-making. These include a range of potential biases such as age, race, weapon use, and sexuality.
2) Attend to your own body. Our own unique signs of worry, fear or anxiety can cue us well. First, learn your own bodily signs of fear or worry. These can include muscle tension, sweating, increased heart or any number of other cues. Then, once in command of these cues, engage in meaningful, open and uncomfortable discourse with people of differing social, religious, and political conversation. If entertaining ideas offered to you from someone of opposing views aggravates your physiological cues or gets you overly riled up, you may be susceptible to the follies of emotionally charged propaganda and messages elsewhere.
3) See a mental health professional. Seriously. I’m not joking. Not everyone who sees a shrink is “crazy.” In fact, there’s a psychological science argument to be made that personal growth and insight-oriented therapy — that is, seeing a professional for the intentional purposes of enhanced self-awareness – is a marker of courage and progression.
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