How do you respond to a bigot?
The answer to this question has never been more important in our lifetime, as hate speech and racially motivated crimes mushroom across the United States – the flotsam of the presidential election.
According to CNN, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported 867 incidents of hateful harassment and intimidation in the ten days following Trump’s upset victory. Many blame the president-elect for inciting racial unrest and validating those people who practice discrimination and promote white supremacy.
How ironic. In some places in the east Muslim women are attacked for not wearing a hijab. In some places in the west, Muslim women are now attacked for wearing a hijab.
It is, perhaps, for the best.
Vile ideas bubbling under society’s crust like magma have been forced into the open by the tectonic shift of political plates. They are now on the surface where they can at least be named and challenged.
While this problem may be primarily Made in America it cannot, unfortunately, be stopped at the US-Canada border like hand guns, milk products and garden plants.
LOVE TRUMP’S HATE messages are scrawled on dirtied rear windows in the parking lot of the Princeton high school. (Few of these car owners manage to get the apostrophe correct. Shocker.) In Keremeos swastikas are painted along highway barriers and on streets.
It comes up in private conversations, and on Facebook. A person you thought you knew – a person you thought you liked – suddenly reveals his or her own prejudices with a timbre of pride.
It is unacceptable to allow this to become part of our country’s landscape.
A 1984 edition of Ebony magazine – Prince was on the cover and he was 26-year-old – included an article on confronting racism.
Dr. Phillip Powell, association professor of education psychology at the University of Texas, said this:
“The best way to deal with a Klan mentality is to simply ignore it. Racists usually are not very smart people and they use Blacks as scapegoats for their own inadequacies. They simply aren’t important enough to deal with.”
Sorry Dr. Phil. While this quote sketches an accurate portrait of your run-of-the-mill racist, avoidance is not a strategy that will suffice in 2016. Possibly it represents the wisest thinking of the time – a time when women were being told to not resist rape so they wouldn’t get hurt.
Consider the following ideas for dealing with the racist over the back fence, the one who just came out of the closet. (Source: Spirit World.)
• React calmly. Convey disapproval or discomfort, without provoking a defensive reaction. Question their use of words and their fear.
• Respond to the issue, not the person. To paraphrase Buddha, when someone fires an arrow into you, you don’t try to find out who fired the arrow and what they are all about. You concentrate on getting the arrow out.
• Avoid calling someone “racist.” It will not advance the discussion.
• When racial attitudes are expressed in the workplace or the classroom, document them and share them with the appropriate authorities.
The most important thing may be this: never give up. (Source: His Holiness the Dalai Lama)
No matter what is going on
Never give up
Develop the heart
Too much energy in your country is spent
developing the mind instead of the heart
Develop the heart,
Not just to your friends but to everyone,
Work for peace in your heart and in the world
Work for peace, and I say again
Never give up
No matter what is happening
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up.