Racism, sexism, classism

Many Trump supporters will defend his racism by praising his politics. Which are not even mediocre on the best of days. Naturally, saying this is not a strong position to take in an argument is an understatement.

Nevertheless, Trumpers use his politics as an excuse for Trump’s racism, among other significant character and moral flaws. However, reality must be pointed out. Unfortunately, human beings come as a complete package. You cannot disassemble parts of them that are inherently evil and retain the parts of them that are good. 

By this logic, Hitler would be nothing more than a vegetarian animal lover who was kind to small children. Yes, I did compare Trump to Hitler. Don’t gatekeep Hitler. It’s ludicrous and in doing so, you only prove that you’re failing to grasp the bigger picture of the issue.

Few could be compared to Hitler in terms of the complete impact of the devastation he caused. However, some can be compared to him in how he came to power. 

Understanding the reality of the situation

We as human beings have a habit of living in denial. We frequently miss warning signs because we dismiss them and disregard our instincts. This is exactly how Hitler came into power in the first place. Churchill warned of Hitler for years before he took control of Germany.

Which was a bit hypocritical, but that’s a topic for another time. Those cautions fell on deaf ears regardless of the audience. Sound familiar? If we fail to learn from history, how can we ever evolve as a society? 

In a similar fashion, albeit a little late, many people are now speaking out about the pitfalls of Trump’s presidency. He’s already been elected, and impeachment was useless in creating accountability. Yet, there are things we can do to ensure the damage he does is kept to a minimum until he is voted out of office. 

It’s important to not dismiss Trump supporters based on their proven lack of sound judgment. They will be voting in the next election, that’s indisputable. And you can rest assured that they will have an easy time doing so. Republican politicians have a history of making voting particularly difficult for Democrats exclusively.

As we understand they will be voting, we have a lot of work to do in the meantime. Have conversations with Trump supporters from the approach of education. It’s not combative and you’ll likely gain more traction in, at the very least, opening up their mind. 

“So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here – a lynching. But we will WIN!”

Education levels & Trump’s base

Having said all of that, I’ve talked to my fair share of these types of people. Generally speaking, they are not the most educated bunch. This is not an opinion, it is a fact

It’s not uncommon to find yourself dealing with an individual who is not in the habit of thinking independently. In these instances, asking questions is the best route to take. People tend to take action when something impacts them directly or resonates with them personally.

This is exactly why systemic racism still exists. The people in power to change things are neither experiencing nor impacted by racism. 

Make Trump’s racism personal for Republicans and you’ll get them to see him for the person he truly is. Frame questions in a way that makes his actions applicable to them. Unfortunately, most of us were never taught to critical thinking skills in school, we were taught obedience. People must be taught critical thinking. This grows from asking questions because a question requires an answer and an answer requires thought. 

Consider the credibility of sources

This is particularly true when you deviate from the typical debating style so many Trump supporters are used to. They’re used to hearing back to back statements with no questions in between.

They have all their talking points because they watch things like Fox News and Ben Shapiro. These sources provide them with only a surface level of comprehension because all they can offer are sound bites. 

These sources are not known for their credibility, but they are known for shocking viewers with distorted facts and misinformation. How do they do this? By making it personal for the audience. What they fail to do is present facts honestly or ask thought-provoking questions. 

If you can make it personally applicable to your audience, you will surely open minds. To accomplish this, present facts and credible information and ask questions for them to reflect on. There’s no way around it.

Laying the groundwork

There’s a really interesting Times article specifically about instances where Trump has displayed racism. That particular article provides over forty examples with sources and evidence to confirm them.  There are a plethora of articles to be found online aside from that one.

From The Atlantic, to Vox, to Huffington Post, to The New Yorker. There is even a Wikipedia page dedicated to documenting his history of racist words and actions dating back decades.

Now I know what you’re thinking. The Trump supporters are predominantly white and statistically don’t care about racism as it doesn’t effect them. Fair point and an accurate one when you look into current Republican demographics and psychology. 

However, most of these points can be argued as intellectual defects in addition to examples of racism. Change your approach, never your point. The point is; Trump is a racist trashcan. But, maybe there’s a different approach to take that will ensure you’re heard. It might be useful to speak about the overlapping red flags within his cognitive abilities and his penchant for cruelty.

We understand the people we’re trying to educate, unfortunately, lack formal education. Consequently, they do not demonstrate the capability to change their mind even when confronted with facts.

So what changes the mind of an uneducated person? Fear of personal impact. Consider all the incorrect, offensive, hateful, and harmful things Trump has said and done. What if those words and actions could be said and done to his supporters? How can we know for sure Trump won’t turn on his own supporters?

Provoke independent thought

Humans are inherently curious beings. Once a question is out there, they might become emotional upon hearing it. Likely they’ll also be emotional in their response, angry even. They might block you, call you names, or hurl insults.

Who cares? That means you disrupted their worldview and they’re simply uncomfortable. But it also means they’re now thinking and that was the goal all along. 

One of the most basic concepts you can apply to Trump supporters is the racism of it all. This naturally will get them to start reflecting and thinking for themselves. This subject doesn’t necessarily have to involve politics either. Which makes it accessible to more people.

Discussing his racism has nothing to do with the direction his party wants to take. Nor the policies he is proposing or passing, or any history of politics. On the surface, racism is an issue that anyone can discuss because you’re either experiencing it or benefiting from it. 

This makes it an accessible issue for you to debate a Trump supporter on. Surprisingly, the people who identify as Republicans also have a strong history of voting against their own interests. Not a typo, a fact, AGAINST their own interests. The Republican party has consistently voted to defund social programs. Yet, Republican voters are dependent on these programs for their survival.

Of course, this will shape how you engage with them. 

Linking Trump’s pattern of behaviour

In 1989, Trump took out disgraceful and racist ads in New York newspapers. These ads urged the death penalty for five Black and Latino teenagers. A white woman accused these boys of raping her in Central Park.

Trump argued they were guilty despite all the evidence to the contrary. In fact, as recently as October 2016, he was still making the same claims against their innocence. DNA evidence had exonerated all five of the now-men more than a decade prior to his most recent slanderous remarks.

Yes, this is a series of racist actions. However, we shouldn’t overlook that these actions are also profoundly stupid. Despite evidence that proves otherwise, he remained committed to an accusation of guilt. Of course, a simple misunderstanding could explain things up to this point. But to do so for decades, while evidence -including DNA evidence- mounts paints a different picture.

Sadly, this wasn’t even where things ended. He continued to remain loyal to this lie for more than a decade. Defying concrete evidence that had been verified by credible professionals. This pattern of behavior alone seems…reckless and stupid. And of course, undeniably racist when you view it alongside his nearly six-decade track record of public racism.

Do you really want someone in charge who discriminates against certain people? Often the response you’ll get to that question is something in the affirmative. But stay the course anyway because the more pointed questions are coming and that’s when the realization will hit them. 

Framing it in a way that’s relatable

Remember what I said earlier about voting against their own interests? The Republican party does an impressive job of vilifying a given group. The American ‘way of life’ somehow being threatened is always the implication. The purpose is to create a sense of fear and combativeness within their base.

This motivates them to vote for a party allegedly capable of defending and protecting ‘their way of life’ for them. In reality, the Republican way of life doesn’t differ all that much from the Democratic way of life. Especially when it comes to things like social programs. The country is much less divided than is politically optimal for Republicans, and so, it’s in their best interests to manufacture some division.

Enter racism and issues that arise from racist ideologies. Combine that with low levels of education and you’ve got the Republican base, by and large. For all of these reasons, they do not care about Trump’s racism. In fact, a lot of them voted for him in the first place for that specific reason. But, what they’re failing to recognize is the red flag that his racism represents.

If Trump were to be described and defined in one word it would be ‘discriminatory.’ This label isn’t exclusive to racism either. We’ve seen ample examples of his sexism and classism, time and time and time again. His racism just happens to be more noticeable for the general population.

What’s to stop him from discriminating against people based on their median income? Poor people are arguably a ‘drain on society,’ what’s to stop Trump from discriminating against them? Poverty is an issue close to many Republican hearts.

Confusingly the majority of them are convinced capitalism is working. As we covered, the Republican party has a history of marginalizing the poor, and yet, Republican voters faithfully vote Republican. 

Racism & Classism

Using examples of Trump’s racism as a means to prove his pattern of discrimination is helpful. If he can discriminate against people based on their skin, what else can and will he discriminate against? What’s to stop him from discriminating based on other arbitrary traits? Such as sex? Such as class?

Other instances of Trump’s racism follow the same logic. Take Trump’s generalizations about Mexicans being rapists and murderers. What are the figures for this? Can anyone confirm his claim? Where are the statistics to back this comment up? They don’t exist. His claims are false.

Ask these questions of Trump supporters. If the leader of any country is speaking publicly, what they’re saying should be rooted in facts and evidence. All Americans deserve a president who is wise and logical.

Is a man who makes up statistics and generalizes groups of people based on zero evidence really measuring up? Is that really who you want representing you and advocating for you? Inarguably focusing on his classism is more relatable to his base.

Far more relatable than comprehending the fatal harm of racism could ever be for them. However, establishing a pattern of behavior and a lack of regard for differentiating between his targeted groups is compelling.

What to expect

Once you start asking questions, Trump’s presidency becomes more and more appalling and embarrassing. For me, it’s not often that this approach fails. A word of caution with this approach is to not take a lack of a response as disagreement. Perhaps the person is simply thinking about what’s been said so far. 

Don’t take an emotional reaction personally either. Challenging someone’s worldview in a practical and pragmatic way leaves them little options for reasonable dispute. This approach is likely to make them feel attacked. 

Consequently, don’t be surprised if they react in the same way as a cornered animal. As long as you’ve been respectful along the way, their reaction has nothing to do with you. In fact, it has everything to do with their perspective being turned on its head.

Think back to a time when you felt passionate about something and then realized you were wrong. I’m sure the last thing you wanted was for someone to point it out to you. Or worse, ridicule you for it. The intent should be to open their minds and get them thinking critically about Trump as a president. 

Make it ok for someone to change

Shaming them will not accomplish this as no one can grow and learn in a toxic environment. Always leave the door open for them to approach you after they’ve had time to reflect. 

As people settle deep in thought it can feel the conversation is at a stalemate. When people receive new information, it’s common for them to need time to digest it. Meanwhile, they find themselves unable to readily provide answers to questions. It’s practical to sit with those questions until the answers form. Don’t press them, allow them space and time to process.

If you’re comfortable, welcome them to reach back out to you if they want to talk about it later. Leave things on a positive note and indicate the door is open, whenever possible. You’ve done your part at that point, cross your fingers they continue to think, reflect, and grow. 

The Next Step

In short, ask questions. In doing so, you force people to reflect on their beliefs. Their cognitive dissonance forces them to confront their views. At least to the extent that they’re willing to. It’s wise to approach the discussion as an attempt to open their mind and share information in a respectful way. Nothing more.

If you’d like to learn more about how to successfully debate, be sure to read up on your fallacies. If you’re looking to strengthen your knowledge of feminist issues, browse the categories and check back often for updates.