How to handle bigotry?
That is a question that has led and still leads to a lot of debate within progressive circles everywhere. Some defend that the correct thing to do is to prevent bigots from having an audience – and with that prevent them from harming people and spreading their bigotry. Others defend a more peaceful approach – namely talking with them and trying to show them that they are being harmful.
Being such a controversial matter, with such polar opposite views, many people pick a side without knowing much about the other one. So, let’s talk a bit about that.
Canceling and deplatforming
The name “Cancel Culture” arose as a way to describe this strategy of pushing away bigots of any kind, from the radical conservatives with ties to the Ku Klux Klan to the average Joe with a bad taste for jokes. And it has its degree of effectiveness: this kind of boycott led to demonetization, brands pulling out their investments, and even successful lawsuits. To handle the big guys of conservative circles, however, it is a tad less effective – for them, being canceled is a sign of success.
Still, does this actually solve anything? Doing this, they aren’t actually solving the problem of bigotry. People aren’t becoming less bigots – it’s just that people become more afraid of publicly displaying their bigotry because of it. This kind of suppression tends to create a “time bomb”, meaning that sooner or later this matter is going to explode. Some even say that it already did – that QAnon and the rise of neo-Nazi groups in the US are a consequence of that.
Talking and convincing
In order to really solve the problem of bigotry, we need to make people become less bigot. We need to reach out to them and understand why they think the way they do and try to show them how that is harmful to them and to others. We need to show them the humanity within the people they hate, and how their hate is actually turning them into worse people, even though they consider their opinions to be justified.
While this clearly would be much more effective – as it goes into the root of the problem – it is easier said than done. Even though, thanks to the internet and mobile applications, we can talk with pretty much anyone we want, some people don’t really want to be talked to. Many people just aren’t willing to listen to the people telling them that they are wrong, no matter how nice they are. Some may even become hostile if you try. Not to mention that currently there is an entire culture and industry surrounding bigotry – radical conservative influencers, neo-Nazi groups, and close-knit Confederacy-sympathizing groups, families and even small towns. The resistance to change is enormous.
Which side is the correct one?
The debate is still open. As you can see, both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages.
Both sides of the matter tend to advocate for a single approach: either going full Cancel Culture on everyone, or trying to reach out to everyone. This seems to be counter-productive: some people are more prone to be convinced than others, and some are more prone to harming people than others. Both groups try to apply the methods they deem correct to the people who are within their reach, which can sometimes lead to weird situations, such as a mob going after someone who made an awful racist joke twenty years ago while progressive Democrat congressman tries to negotiate with radical fundamentalist Republicans. You May Also Like: Historical Spy Cameras
Maybe a wiser approach would be to realize that some people are more approachable than others and there is no such thing as a best solution for any single problem, especially one involving humans. You can’t convince everyone, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t convince anyone. Maybe this way it will be easier to defuse that time bomb.