Up until the last few days I'd been very slow to actively engage any Trump supporters, online or in person. I had a talk with some friends some months ago, one of whom has done everything he can to keep his Trump supporting Twitter and Facebook friends in order to have some logical, meaningful discourse. I attempted the same thing in the hopes that I might understand better, and perhaps raise some issues that would make a person wait and think and question their decision of candidate. Call it a social experiment.
We all know the Trump support stereotypes. Violent, bigoted, unreasonable, out of touch. They are part of a party that actively lives in a reality that has little do to with our shared one. John Stewart has often referred to this cultural delusion as "Bullshit Mountain."
Bullshit Mountain is a place where all media channels, excluding Fox News, are biased and agenda ridden. When something bad happens to the Republican Party and any news source reports on it other than Fox, well, they are only saying that because it's the "Liberal Media." Trump supporters have, for months, been expounding that the media won't reveal how much support Trump actually has. Of course this has been spurred on by Trump himself. It's akin to saying, "If what I want to hear isn't being reported, well, it's because the Liberal Media doesn't want you to know about it."
This is such a flagrant lie. I could try to find reports about the Spaghetti Monster in history books for my whole life, just because it isn't in there doesn't mean someone is trying to cover it up. It means there is no Spaghetti Monster. Sad.
So a couple days ago, when Trump was in Detroit, There was a lot of name calling on Twitter. A lot of Trump supporters seemed to feel as though Democrats were the actual racists and Trump's racist comments, up until now, had just been a big misunderstanding.
Alex Clark-McGlenn @AlexClarkMcG Democrats are not waving around the confederate flag guys. #TrumpInDetroit
2:29 PM - 3 Sep 2016
This seems pretty reasonable to me. I've never seen a Democrat defend the Confederate Flag, which I believe is a racist symbol--one that takes pride in the enslavement of African-Americans.
To my surprise someone responded to me:
Poetry&Nightmares @Lilkimis1Legend Sep 3Poetry&Nightmares Retweeted Alex Clark-McGlenn
Don't act like it wasn't established by democrats
This gave me pause. This user is certainly correct. The Democratic party was once the party of the south and confederacy, but this comment is so out of context that issued a contextual response.
Alex Clark-McGlenn @AlexClarkMcG Sep 3
@Lilkimis1Legend What matters is: who is waving it now? Both parties have changed dramatically over time--so who waves that flag these days?
It is not a secret that many conservatives who hold their roots in the south take pride in their families part of the Confederacy. There has been a ongoing fight to have the Confederate flag removed from state lands. Many Democrats have rallied behind President Obama to address this symbol of hate and bigotry. However:
Poetry&Nightmares Retweeted Alex Clark-McGlenn
DEMOCRATS cause republicans been trying to ban it for years!!! It's distasteful and racist
A comma would have been helpful. I had to read this before I realized what she left out. The thing is, the second sentence is correct. It is a racist symbol. But how she has come to the conclusion that Republicans have been trying to ban the Confederate flag is. . . a mystery to me. Before I could respond, this:
Poetry&Nightmares @Lilkimis1Legend Sep 3
Poetry&Nightmares Retweeted Alex Clark-McGlenn
And furthermore Donald Trump brought over 12 million democrats to join republicans so explain that?
I don't like to dwell on the differences in discourse strategies. But this just doesn't have anything to do with what we were talking about. I had not mentioned Trump, except for my hashtag. Whether she is right or now, I don't know, but I do know that while we were discussing topic A, she diverted the conversation to topic B. And this:
Poetry&Nightmares@Lilkimis1Legend@AlexClarkMcG the Republican Party was established to end SLAVERY! Always remember this
While this is correct, it's also out of context. While the Republican Party was established in 1854, the present day Republican Party has next to nothing in common with the one of yesteryear.
Alex Clark-McGlenn @AlexClarkMcG Sep 3@Lilkimis1Legend What I mean to say is, neither party stands for what it once did. Dems not for slavery, Reps not for abolition.
This is more than true. Shit. The Republican Party of today doesn't look anything like what it did under George H. Bush. Back then, even I would have found some commonalities with that party. But now. . . And then. . .
Poetry&Nightmares@Lilkimis1Legend@AlexClarkMcG the American [flag] is for all! That's y we don't respect ppl who burn it! Repubs aren't racist! Democrats are! We're Christians
And now the whole conversation has just turned into name calling. Gone are supported sources, gone are any semblance of reasonable discourse. The conversation has suddenly become "I believe this, so it must be true!"
Alex Clark-McGlenn @AlexClarkMcG Sep 3@Lilkimis1Legend One party is not solely responsible for racism. I don't know how your religion applies to this conversation.
Of course this cause of racism goes far beyond any political party. It goes back thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians and Romans subjugated thousands, tens or hundreds of thousands of people into slavery, dehumanized them. Racism is an ugly and systemic issue that has been passed down throughout human history. And then, this. . .
Poetry&Nightmares@Lilkimis1LegendPoetry&Nightmares Retweeted Alex Clark-McGlenn
Sighs Republican/Conservatives are believers of Christ and Dems are too solely responsible for RACISM!
Frankly, her religion doesn't have anything to do with the origins of racism. She can believe whatever she wants. But her reasoning in bringing it up is this: Christ was a good guy and the savior (if you believe that) and I believe in him so I'm right.
Of course, this is not the case, as her blanket statement of Democrats and the origins of racism show. And this when was I had to take a step back. I have not included all her comments, or mine, but in the course of this conversation she brought up Kanye West, multiple times, she brought up the fact the MLK was a Republican, and when I reminded her that both major parties have changed dramatically throughout history, her response was, "I'm christian," which is well and good, but it is not an argument. It is a system of belief.
A day later I found an article from Think Progress about a Trump adviser who has done everything he can to preserve the Confederate flag. Remember--that's what we were talking about in the first place. It's easy to get sidetracked when the other person has an attention span of a gold fish. I sent this woman the Think Progress article and this was her response:
Poetry&Nightmares @Lilkimis1Legend 18h18 hours ago@AlexClarkMcG @atrupar why isn't Obama funding the Zika virus and everything else like he's suppose to?
Again, we see this strategy of deflection. I've written on here before how facts, typically, don't change people's minds. The reason for this is because the beliefs people have are so intrinsic to their identities that an acceptance of facts that contradict those beliefs are physically and emotionally painful. So, an article that actively shows that House Republicans have actively tried to preserve the Confederate flag was completely disregarded. To this woman Democrats are bad, the sole creators and perpetrators of racism and, it seems, no amount of evidence to the contrary can change her mind.
In the course of this conversation I had raised the topic of the Confederate flag. I call it topic A. The woman had taken every liberty to distract from that topic and raise questions that were not connected to it. In fact I counted she raised topics B, C, and D in the form of Historical Anti-Context, Christianity, and Zika. If you haven't noticed this isn't much different than Trump's tactics. If someone talks about something he doesn't want to talk about, he just starts talking about something he does want to talk about. Hey, if I don't answer your question he can't use my answer (that I don't have) against me. But we should.
I came away from this interaction boggled. What a simple word this woman lives in. Democrats are bad, Republicans good. If I'm Christian, well I must be on the good side. If what I don't want to hear isn't reported, then it's because the media is biased.
It makes me wonder what beliefs I have I am unable to reconcile with reality. I believe we all of beliefs like this, but whom of us can identify them and reflect on them. Instead of making generalizations and blanket statements, why don't we try to understand where our biased come from and why? In the end, my perception of Trump supporters was, sadly, as I had been led to believe. Zealous, unreasonable, and unwilling to listen to anything other than themselves. When I asked Twitter how you can speak to someone who believes all racism stems from the Democratic party, I received a response from another Trump supporter with a meme of Hillary Clinton, quoting her as saying all types of racist things--sources from the likes of The Daily Mail which is a tabloid from the UK, and a youtube video which, on further inspection was a clip of Hillary talking about cracking down on gangs. She doesn't mention race, only drugs and the violence gang members are capable of, regardless of the color of their skin.
This meme proves my point in so many ways. Instead of an open discussion. A thoughtful discourse I was given inflammatory responses that didn't address the issue, but brought up a completely different one to distract from what the real issue was. While I don't want to believe the worst of people, I won't be conducting this kind of experiment again.