Let Them Speak

There’s a very clear reason why you don’t infringe on the spirit of free speech, even if the person across from you is someone you don’t agree with at all. Even if what they say is utterly stupid or even hurtful.

We communicate and think in language. Silence is not the same as compliance, agreement, or even understanding. It is simply that: silence.

I would rather know someone’s true feelings, their true intent than go on the assumption that I can trust them or that they’re a “good person.”

What someone says and does is key insight into who they are as a person.

Punching someone into silence. Forcing them to stay silent. None of that solves the underlying problem. None of that even begins to approach the issue. All this does is sweep it under the rug for some indeterminate amount of time. And, eventually, it will come back up again, likely bigger and angrier than ever before–because that’s what happens when you let something toxic fester. That’s what happens when you dismiss or treat a symptom but not the disease.

Anger, violence, selfishness, hate, closed-mindedness, intolerance. These are either bad always or they are never bad.

Let them speak. Let them protest.

And then, when they expose their true selves, you act.

I’m seeing a lot of people posting about how they’ve had to unfriend a lot of other people. How they’ve had to block this or that person who was a friend or even a family member.

But this speaks to you as a person. Because it shows that you never knew who these people were to begin with. You never really spoke with or understood these people. This shit isn’t hard to see or figure out. It only takes a few minutes to get that sturdy feel for who a person is deep down by the things they say, the way they act, and the way they treat other people. If you were taken aback or shocked by their support of things like Trump or the Alt-Right or whatever, you were never paying attention. And if you weren’t surprised, that means you were more than willing to keep such people around you because it fulfilled some need of your own. You were perfectly fine with who these people are and what they believe until it gave you the chance to use them, now, as an example.

Lot of people are talking about how we beat the Nazis once and we’ll do it again. Or how we took down racist confederate whoevers. And the people saying this are the same people who have ignored the nonstop string of decades where this racist, ignorant, stupid horseshit has persisted in our country.

Remember how America denied sanctuary to boats full of Jewish people–boats offered up to us by Nazi Germany itself? Because that happened.

Remember learning about the genocide of Native Americans by the American government and its people?

How about the systemic racism inherent in the language of the law *and* the legal system that keeps blacks in areas with the worst education systems and higher probability of longer sentences than whites?

What about that time during the depression when the American government shipped up a bunch of US citizens of Mexican heritage, forced them out of their homes, threw them on trains, and illegally deported them to Mexico?

What about the internment camps where Japanese families were kept isolated from the rest of the world–taken away from their jobs, and homes, and loved ones–because they were simply of Japanese heritage?

None of what’s happening is new. None of what’s happening should actually be shocking.

We were never the heroes. We were simply, at that time, on the side that won. Heroes by association.

Slavery and racism didn’t end with the Civil War, it only changed. Antisemitism didn’t end with the fall of Nazi Germany, it only changed.

As a society, as a culture, as a people, what does it say about us as Americans when we supposedly claim to hate Trump and the Alt-Right and racism and intolerance when all we really do is perpetuate it or turn a blind eye?

72 years since the end of WW2. More than 150 years since the end of the Civil War. Nearly 50 years since the “end” of the Civil Rights Movement. And what exactly about us has fundamentally changed?

We never solved the problems. We continue to treat the surface-level symptoms and ignore the disease lurking deep inside.

Trump is a symptom. His supporters who blindly praise him are a symptom. The Alt-Right is a symptom. “Punching Nazis” is a symptom, not even a treatment to a symptom.

The disease is the unchecked dark side of humanity. The protests and marching and Facebook posting makes you feel good, but it doesn’t fix what’s fundamentally wrong with each and every one of us. That takes daily inventory of one’s self, of our actions and behaviors.

Are you actively a good person, or are you using the occasional public act or statement of kindness or solidarity to comfort yourself?

Because the literal Nazi’s going around, waving their flags, and chanting their stupid chants? I know I can’t trust them. I know I can’t respect any of them or their beliefs. But I do know what they think and feel at this point. I have good reason to feel the way I do about them and their “cause”.

But those going around calling for more violence in an effort to stop violence? You aren’t giving me any reason to trust or respect you. Because all I’m seeing and hearing is more anger and hatred dressed up in the same tattered costume of compassion. And look how far that’s gotten us.

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