6. Boycott the Trump brand
You can hit Trump where it hurts most by boycotting all of his family’s commercial brands. You’ll find an up-to-date list at grabyourwallet.org. And there’s a Boycott Trump app you can install on your mobile devices. This could have a greater effect than you think, since Trump likely has greatly exaggerated his assets, just as he greatly exaggerates everything else.
7. Turn off Fox
For the past two decades, Fox “News” has pumped a steady stream of toxic misinformation into American minds, and the results have been disastrous. It isn’t just a matter of bias — all media is biased in some way. And it’s not just a matter of lies and distortions, though Fox certainly has contributed more than its share. It’s a matter of deliberately stirring up hatred, fear and anger.
What makes it worse is that Fox is the most-watched “news” network in America — a distinction it has achieved largely because its fans are very loyal and keep it on the dial consistently, whereas other viewers switch channels more often. Because of this “most-watched” status, Fox has become the default mode in many public venues, artificially inflating its ratings even more.
Whenever you see Fox playing at your gym or in any other public venue, switch the channel if you can (almost any other network will be an improvement). If you are unable to switch it yourself, ask management to do so. If you can’t locate the individual who makes such decisions, or you don’t want to confront people in person, send a polite email later. Make it clear that other patrons are also displeased by this venomous one-sidedness, and suggest that they would be much better served by other networks, or at the very least by more variety.
8. Practice verbal judo
There is far too much anger and bitterness in the world. Many people (a great many of whom have gravitated to Trump) seem to thrive on confrontation and contentiousness, and may try to engage you in schoolyard bickering. Don’t take the bait. Learn to turn the other cheek (the one with the deaf ear attached) as many times as necessary.
We’d all do well to follow Michael Moore’s example. While offering some acerbic criticism of George W. Bush, he didn’t engage in name-calling or character assassination or puerile insults, even against people who childishly attacked him. He has even appeared on Fox, subjecting himself to interviews by the likes of Sean Hannity, yet still remained cordial and civil, without even raising his voice.
If you’ve ever practiced judo, you know how to get out of the way and let an attacker throw himself with his own aggression. Do the same thing against verbal attacks; if you meet hostility with pleasantness rather than more hostility, an attacker will be quite thrown off balance — perhaps even enough to indulge in a bit of reflection later.
9. Avoid tribalism
Polarization has reached a fevered pitch in America, and many people seem to regard it as mandatory that they identify themselves as either conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat — and brand the other side as pure evil. Trump supporters will be eager to dismiss you as a “libtard”, “snowflake”, or whatever the pejorative du jour might be. One of their most frequent comments about the election is that the most satisfying thing for them is seeing how upset “liberals” are; another is that it’s “payback time” against someone or other for some supposed offense or other.
It’s important that we never resort to this kind of adversarial pigeonholing ourselves. It only escalates conflict and stifles dialogue; every time you use a standardized label, you put up a barrier to getting your message across. Furthermore, contrary to popular spin, Trump is not just a problem for “liberals”, but for everyone. There are many people who consider themselves Republicans or conservatives who are as horrified as anyone; why alienate potential allies? (Some of your friends and relatives and coworkers voted for Trump, and you’re not going to accomplish anything worthwhile by pointing out to them how foolish and harmful that choice was.) Stress facts and issues rather than ideologies. In most cases, it’s best to avoid polarized words like “conservative” and “liberal”, as well as combative words like “fight” or “war”.
10. Cross the bridge
You should understand that you will never be able to reason with die-hard Trump fans. Never. They live in an alternate universe in which millions of people voted illegally, Muslims cheered in the streets on 9-11, Hillary Clinton caused the deaths in Benghazi, and Donald Trump is an honest, honorable Christian. There is no fact hard enough to pierce their armor; they’ll simply swat down any and all intrusive facts with an ever-ready supply of “alternative facts”. Many of them are perfectly aware that Trump lies nonstop; they just don’t care because he tells the lies they want to hear. And he hates the same people they hate.
But that doesn’t mean you should quarantine yourself from them. On the contrary, it means you should get acquainted with them, or more important, let them get acquainted with you. Whatever other factors contributed to Donald Trump’s election, one major consideration is that he tapped into a wave of bigotry — of fear and anger and scapegoating directed toward “the others” (Muslims, Mexicans, gays, liberals, secularists, etc.).
Bigotry is a by-product of ignorance; we all tend to be suspicious of what we’re unfamiliar with. But even though some bigots are hateful and a few are even violent, most of them are quite decent toward people they’re comfortable with.
African-American musician Daryl Davis reportedly has convinced some 200 members of the KKK to renounce their membership. But he didn’t do it by actually trying to persuade them. He did it by mingling with them and befriending them and showing them that their stereotypes were wrong.
Imagine what might happen if each of us similarly engaged with 200 bigots — or even one. Again, don’t try to feed them facts; they will instinctively put up a wall. Instead, try asking them questions about their convictions. Remember Socrates, who is regarded as one of the wisest men who ever lived, largely because of his skill in asking questions that gently nudged his listeners to see the folly of their own beliefs. A Klansman told Daryl Davis that blacks are obviously genetically inclined to be criminals, since so many of them are in prison. Rather than argue that point, Davis extended it by observing that whites must be genetically inclined to be serial killers, since there are no known black serial killers. Touche — an expert maneuver in verbal judo.
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