Given that, for many of us, this Thanksgiving will be the first time since the election that we’ll be spending time with our Trump-supporting relatives, several articles have been written about how to open up lines of communication, in hopes that, just maybe, constructive dialogue can be had. While I have my doubts as to whether, in most cases, reasonable conversations can be had over turkey with people who, at best, supported a candidate in spite of his clearly being a lying, racist misogynist, especially when all parties involved will be well-armed with cutlery, I appreciate the effort that people will be investing, and wish them all the best.
I know, in most instances, if your aim is truly to engage in meaningful conversation, with the objective of finding common ground, this probably wouldn’t work as a strategy, but, if it should come up, I’d be incredibly interested to know what the Trump supporters in you family make of the fact not only that our President-elect has selected a known white nationalist to be his chief White House strategist, but that, since the election, we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of incidents of racial intimidation directed at Americans of color.
Again, I know it might be counterproductive, if your objective is to build bridges, but I’d be particularly interested to know what your conservative relatives think of this video which came out earlier today of National Policy Institute President Richard B. Spencer, who the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a “professional racist in khakis,” addressing more than 200 of his fellow white nationalists at an event in Washington, DC this past Saturday… During the event, as you can see it the video, the attendees chanted, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”
The Atlantic, which apparently had a person shooting video of the event for a documentary they’re working on about Spencer, had the following to say about what they saw transpire.
…For most of the day, a parade of speakers discussed their ideology in relatively anodyne terms, putting a presentable face on their agenda. But after dinner, when most journalists had already departed, Spencer rose and delivered a speech to his followers dripping with anti-Semitism, and leaving no doubt as to what he actually seeks. He referred to the mainstream media as “Lügenpresse,” a term he said he was borrowing from “the original German”; the Nazis used the word to attack their critics in the press.
“America was until this past generation a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity,” Spencer said. “It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”
The audience offered cheers, applause, and enthusiastic Nazi salutes…
Spencer, who is credited with bringing white nationalism into the American mainstream under the banner of the “alt-right,” has said his dream is “a new society, an ethno-state that would be a gathering point for all Europeans.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, and the work of his Virginia-based think tank, they’re also proponents of “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”
Again, I know it may put a damper on the festivities to broach the subject of ethnic cleansing over the dinner table, but, if you should have an opportunity to share this video over the holiday, I’d be curious to know what kind of response you get. I suspect most would write it off as just the ranting of a few on the far right fringe. I’ve got to think, however, that some might actually see it for what it is – a very real, and growing, threat to everything that America stands for. And I would love hear what those people – the ones who voted for Trump and are now concerned about the rise of the far right – are doing in order to stop their party from embracing the principles of white nationalism.
I should add that I wouldn’t, if I were you, suggest that your Trump supporting relatives are responsible for what we’re beginning to see play out across America. I don’t expect that anything good would come of yelling, “Look what you’ve done, Mom!” However, I do think it’s possible that, if you approach it with a certain degree of sensitivity, leaving your relatives a way to exit the conversation with their dignity somewhat intact, progress can be made… What if, for instance, you were to say something like… “I know this isn’t what you were expecting when you voted for Trump, Dad. I know you were angry about the status quo, and just wanted to shake up the political system, bringing in an outsider with a different perspective, someone who could make things better. I know, when you cast your ballot, you weren’t thinking that Trump’s win could usher in an era of brutality and racism. And I know these things that we’re seeing now have to trouble you. My question for you is, at what point do you act? What has to happen for you to accept that this isn’t just a few bad apples, but something more significant? And, when that happens, how will you respond?“
However you decide to approach it, I wish you the best of luck, and I hope your family is able to weather the storm.. And here’s hoping, in spite of everything happening around us, you can all find something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.