It’s a familiar refrain these days: If you were just nicer to those bigoted halfwits who support Donald Trump, you might be able to persuade them that they’re wrong. By insulting them, you only push them further to the right and make their behavior worse. A historian tracked down the ultimate example of this, from 1934, encouraging Jews to be nicer to Nazis for that same reason:
Henry Cadbury was a Quaker, and I'm sure he was a lovely man. But wow, was he wrong in a very familiar way. pic.twitter.com/dfj4EiPAwq
— Angus Johnston (@studentactivism) June 14, 2018
IT’s a very long Twitter thread with lots of images of the article in question, making identical arguments to the ones we’re seeing today in regard to proto-fascists in the United States. I’m somewhere in the middle when it comes to debates over civility with right-wing extremists. I probably have a larger subset of them that I’m willing to at least attempt to engage in a civil debate with than many of my friends, but when it comes to outright white supremacists (not “white nationalists” or “alt-right,” those are worthless euphemisms), I see no need to attempt any type of civility. If I keep myself from punching them, I think I’ve done pretty well (and I haven’t punched anyone since the 8th grade, for crying out loud). Authoritarian bigots do not respond to civil pleas for reason and kindness.Being a Trump supporter does not automatically put one in that class of people. Human motivations are very complex and we shouldn’t reduce them down to simplistic nostrums. But for those who are truly committed to Trump’s bigoted, authoritarian, proto-fascist agenda of hatred and thuggery, civility is a waste of time. They respond only to strength and resolve. I’m not suggesting open violence against them, but I am suggesting that we stand up to their bullying in a united and resolute manner. They are decidedly in the minority here and we cannot let them win.