Saturday, March 26, 2016

A Plea to My Liberal Friends in America

Please stop using the words "stupid," "crazy" and all of their colorful variations on social media platforms to label people whose behavior and words indicate they are racist, pro-gun, supporters of the Republican presidential candidate who shall not be named, anti-choice, anti-LGBT, and/or some other variation of evangelical Christian conservative. 

From where I sit, calling a DT voter an "idiot" is no different than calling a rape survivor a "slut" 

"Really?" you say. "How?" 

Because the labels only serve to confirm the worst feelings the person you are labeling has about themselves. Regardless of whether they are conscious of those bad feelings or not, the words serve to step on the self-esteem of another in order to lift your own sense of worth and belonging. The primary purpose of labels are to reinforce oppression. And DT supporters (and anti-choice activists and anti-LGBT activists and gun rights activists, yada yada) DO feel oppressed. 

And when people who feel they are being oppressed are organized, they fight back. Tea Party voters and the hundreds of permutations of their ilk, are well-funded and organized. The more we insult, the harder they deeper they feel about their cause and the harder they fight back. 

Think of the lessons American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Imagine the protesters outside of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, chanting "N****r go home!" to the members of Little Rock 9 as they bravely played their role in desegregating America's school. Did the civil right activists stop, think, and say, "Golly! You're right. We are n****rs and we should go home. We don't belong in a well-funded and high performing high school. Thanks for helping us see the light."? No, they got madder and louder and more organized until they won that phase of the battle for civil rights. 

Based on my experience as a community organizer and a thoughtful human being, I believe that every time someone posts a news article with a comment that belittles or expresses patronizing disappointment in the opposition, they are contributing to a mood in which the organized opposition gets madder and louder. 

Maybe using these labels helps to make you feel better. Maybe they also make your fellow liberals laugh. I'm sure you feel righteously superior to the "others" whom you are deriding. It's important to express your feelings. I'm a social worker. I get it. I'm as horrified as most of you are every time I read the news or skim through comments on yet another witty meme circulating in Facebook or Twitter.

But, in the grand political scheme, name calling is doing nothing to change the political tenor of our country. In fact, it's making things worse. 

So stop it. please. 

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