If you've known me for any length of time, you know I have a reputation for arguing about politics with people on Facebook. As an activist, I have long seen it as my duty to educate the ignorant. And long before Trump was elected to be the U.S.'s president (a reality that is still surreal at times), my approach to responding to whackerjacks has been the same. Like all who have experienced marginalization, I was called to educate the ignorant, hoping something I say will seep into their closed-minded brains.
And there's a lot to educate them over. Their ignorance allows them to believe all sorts of xenophobic, racist, queerphobic and transphobic things about people. They honestly see themselves as the most important beings on earth and all Black, Brown, Muslim, queer and transgender person could fall off the face of the earth, as far as many of them are concerned.
I can't honestly estimate how many hours of my life I've wasted trying to educate these whackerjacks. I'm afraid to try and estimate the time I lost on people who don't matter—simply because they have no desire or willingness to change.
Changing My Approach to Responding to Whackerjacks
I recently wrote an article for Suit & Artist about the responses of companies to the #JusticeforGeorge protests. I drew some interesting conclusions, but one thing I hadn't anticipated, as a result of writing this article, is how, going forward, I'd continue responding to the ignorance.
For the article, I interviewed a friend of mine named Stephen Young, senior partner with Insight Education Systems. As Young explains his role, “At Insight Education Systems, the goal with seminars and webinars is to identify and address the inextricable link between workplace inclusion and effective leadership. Our programs provide insight and direction on how to send messages that unlock the performance of all those within a leader’s sphere of influence. Without identifying these links, without companies doing the work to address them, from the hourly worker to the CEO, nobody in the company is performing to their potential.”
After interviewing Young, I came to the conclusion it's no longer worth responding to these whackerjacks—certainly not the way I've been responding to these whackerjacks. They are who they are, and no amount of education I can provide will change their minds. They'll still be hateful of all people and concepts non-white, non-christian and non-American. They'll still love their messiah, a man who many of them admit isn't the best person for the job, he's just the one who's encouraged them and fueled their hate.
And so they love him!
Last night I found myself in the presence of a whackerjack. I've met him before: hundreds, if not thousands of times in my life and last night I chose a new approach to responding to whackerjacks like him.
My response to this guy surprised me. I fully anticipated coming at him with both barrels, but maybe my friend Stephen Young influenced me to respond differently.
Here's how things went down...
I hope this doesn’t fall flat because maybe it’s one of those, “you had to be there” moments, but here goes.
I was in a conversation on a childhood friend’s Facebook wall. The guy (my childhood friend) has some friends who are Trump supporters. My childhood friend is definitely not one.
So my friend posted something about Trump, and like clockwork, one Trumpette friend of his commented with something positive about Trump. While friends of my friend all lined up to show this Trumpette The Truth about his messiah, I decided to have a little fun.
Trumpette responded to The Truth the way most Trumpettes do: he quoted Trump, Faux News and racist tropes to back up his beliefs about why Trump is the best thing to happen to the U.S. since sliced bread.
One guy described how dim witted the Trumpette is by implying Trumpette needs a Magic 8 ball to answer the tough questions in his life.
So completely out of character for me, rather than jump in and tell Trumpette all the ways he's a terrible human being for believing the garbage coming out of his messiah's mouth, I gathered the troops and posted the following two photos.
The first photo was meant to say, "Dana Scully, Fox Mulder and the two rubber aliens have your Magic 8 ball surrounded."
The second photo was in response to the friend of my friend who implied Trumpette was so dim witted, he requires a Magic 8 ball to answer the tough questions in life. No matter how many times I asked my Magic 8 ball whether Trumpette was dim witted, it told me yes.
Trumpette took 24 hours to respond to me and when he did he came back with a flurry of insults. He questioned my intelligence and then ended by telling me he feels sorry for me because I'm not very intelligent or funny. I allowed him to have the last word.
Although that's not exactly what Young meant when he suggested I change my approach to responding to whackerjacks, I think I like I got under Trumpette's skin. I think I'll respond this way from now—with humor that clearly pokes fun at them. It was fun and my blood pressure didn't go up.