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I wanted to understand why racists hated me, so I befriended Klansmen (washingtonpost.com)
370 points by evo_9 on Oct 1, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 208 comments



I grew up in the Deep South, and you can really change the way people feel by being unflinchingly friendly. People who hold controversial opinions generally know that they do (if they aren't crazy) and expect people to recoil at first contact. When you don't recoil, it throws them and makes them think. At that point, you are entering mind-changing territory. Then you start asking them questions that allows them to do 80% of the talking. They will usually stumble on their own logical fallacies at that point, and you have thus led the horse to water, which is about all you can do.

Not very many people are very good at this. Which is unfortunate.

TL;DR When you get all worked up over the way people are talking, you have allowed them to seize control of the debate and have generally lost the opportunity to change that particular mind.


I finished reading Ben Franklin's autobiography earlier this year. He was notorious for sparking (and usually winning) debates with the people around him. After getting some negative feedback from a friend regarding just how insufferable he was to be around, he adopted the Socratic method of asking questions so that people would see their own folly.

Eventually, it got to the point where his acquaintances and coworkers would refuse to answer even simple questions of his, out of fear that he'd follow up with more questions that would prove them to be incompetent or illogical.

He later changed his methods to something you might read about in a book like How to Win Friends and Influence People. Rather than leading people to see the logical error of their ways, he moved toward displaying much more diffidence, which allowed others to save face when changing their opinions. Phrases like "certainly X" and "undoubtedly Y" became "If I'm not mistaken, X" and "I imagine that Y."

That change worked out well for him throughout the course of his career in winning many rich and powerful people (along with ordinary citizens, of which he was one) to his side on various controversial issues of the day.

Another benefit was that he opened himself up to helpful suggestions and feedback as well. Most people abhor argumentation, and will allow overly-confident people to persist in whatever mistaken beliefs they hold. But when you display humility, others feel safer telling you what they think of your ideas.


Franklin also describes a technique whereby you don't directly tell someone they're wrong, you simply tell them that in this particular case the circumstances are different.

E.g., the bad way to do it:

Person A: "We should do X!"

Franklin: "You are wrong. We should do Y!"

E.g., the better way to do it:

Person A: "We should do X!"

Franklin: "You are, of course, right that X would work if P and Q were the case, but here R is the situation. Don't you then agree that Y would work better here?"

This way, your "opponent" gets to preserve the feeling of being right, or at least avoids the defensiveness that follows being told you're wrong.


Yes, the trouble is that such exchanges are often a battle of egos on both sides. Person A has an egoic need to be right, and Person B has an egoic need to prove person A wrong and themselves right.

No doubt this is an effective technique, you just have to be able to release your own ego and also not directly challenge that of the other person.


I think the point is that this approach is meant to reduce the effect of ego and allow the other person an easier way to change their position.

All public differences of opinion involve ego, status and other emotional states. It's a case of finding a way to lessen their effect on all parties (oneself included).


Thanks for the recommendation. For anyone else interested in reading it. it's on gutenberg:

https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/search/?query=The+Autobiogr...


> He later changed his methods to something you might read about in a book like How to Win Friends and Influence People.

This anecdote is actually mentioned in HtWFaIP! About halfway through, in the chapter "A Sure Way Of Making Enemies - And How To Avoid It". (I was reading it this morning - underrated book)


I'm not sure you can really call it underrated, considering it's one of the top recommended self-help-ish books of all time.

I will however join the recommendation as well :)


It is, but I underrated it, thinking it would be too hokey, for a long time. Now that I am reading it, I think it would be hard to overrate.


> When you get all worked up over the way people are talking, you have allowed them to seize control of the debate

Getting people worked up is a very potent political strategy –– and it is very effective at defusing the power of the other side. You're absolutely right that it allows the other side to seize control of the debate. I really wish more people would respond to craziness with calm compassion; our political world would be VERY different.


Isn't this very different online versus offline? I can belive it working offline on a one-to-one basis, but not online.


I suspect the biggest difference might be between one-to-one and in-a-group. In a group, other people will move the conversation in ways that distract from one person finding out the reasons why the other person holds the views he/she does.

Unrelatedly, in a group, the returns to signaling that you dislike the hated outsider are much higher, as are the costs that come with treating hated outsiders like neutral people. See also: Twitter dynamics.


I've found friendliness, being open and giving people entries to you opinion to work exceedingly well online.

Ill give you an example of something I've done recently on reddit during the burka-ban-debates of my country.

Example 1: Our government shouldn't tell women what to wear.

Example 2: I'm not a fan of burkas or of cultures that force women to wear specific clothing, however, I don't think it's fitting for our democracy to dictate what kind of clothing women are allowed to wear. In fact in doing so, I feel we are giving up basic rights, and becoming more like the cultures we are trying to fight.

Example 1 got 10+ downvotes, example 2 got 50+ upvotes, despite the two examples making the same core point.


Example one is dogma. It sets one truth. It causes a knee-jerk reaction, perhaps even in people who somewhat agree.

Example two is a motivated personal opinion. Most people not completely void of rationality can see that others might have different opinions and tastes. Most will still argue, but hopefully without knee-jerk drama.

As someone who considers themselves a-political, I tend to be more adverse to knee-jerk statements than actual honest opinions anywhere on the spectrum, so I fully agree with openness and embracing, "all-inclusive" communication if you'd hope to get anywhere.

Sadly enough dumb emotion and drama seem to beat rationality most of the time these days.


Personally, I've found it very effective in forums where there is anonymity (not pseudo, where people identify emotionally with their handles), and no voting.


you can really change the way people feel by being unflinchingly friendly

See also: Troll hugging http://pugs.blogs.com/audrey/2009/08/my-hobby-troll-hugging....


This really will be political and I’m sure get me downvoted to hell & back.

It’s amazing that the old political guard still haven’t got this. Look at Spain today. What do you think would work better - hitting them with rubber bullets and batons or something more loving like sending people down to make it “Hug a Spaniard” day and making the Catalan people feel closer to their fellow countrymen?


This method, it was called the "love-in" [1], was used by the Canadian government in 1995. It was illegal as hell as it was a blatant violation of election spending laws.

Some people say it was counterproductive but the proof is in the pudding I guess.

[1] https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/book-r...


Directionally accurate, but in the example you've chosen it's more about economics than demographics, so they'd hug and then vote to separate anyway.


Yeah, but that’s still an improvement over the current situation (at least as I understand it).


I'm not on their side, but they should have announced it was invalid and that the results don't matter, promoted unity and then secretly committed fraud they could expose. They could have posed as pro independence units preventing no voters from voting (recorded "secretly" on a smartphone). Then they could spin the separatists as dirty playing and corrupt.

What're they going to do when Catalan goes underground and high tech with their voting?


Also grew up in the deep south, and my mom would always call this "killing them with kindness"


As a northerner who lived in the South I can unequivocally tell you this doesn't work. Southerners who do this come off as saccharine and insincere. It's incredibly transparent and irritating (which I always felt was the point) to people who don't agree with you. You aren't fooling anyone.


>Southerners who do this come off as saccharine and insincere.

If they're not being sincere then they're doing it wrong.


I think the trick is that you actually have to be sincere. You almost have to feel sorry for the other person, but in a "wow you seem fucked up but I hope you can still have a good day" way. I never mastered it.


That's what my momma said, too.


Also being heavily advocated by Zoffix right now who is a prominent member of the Perl6 project (trying to get it renamed to Rakudo to distance it from Perl5, which makes some sense).


Your approach is called the Socratic method: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socratic_method


The skill you're talking about is called listening. Listening with intent. Listening with the intent to understand, not just to formulate your response.

"We typically seek first to be understood. Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They're either speaking or preparing to speak. They're filtering everything through their own paradigms, reading their autobiography into other people's lives." - Stephen R. Covey


Daryl reminds me of Ben Shapiro. Ben has (most times) flawless logic and understanding of the issues that triggers many of those, typically left wingers, who lack the same level of depth in their beliefs.

I'm buying Daryl's book.


Would you please stop using HN for political/ideological battle? You've been doing it a lot, and it's definitely not helpful. It's also against the site rules: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.


There is a fine line between collaboration and dialogue. In South Africa, there were a significant percentage of oppressed people who tried to get along with the (white supremecist) apartheid government. They participated in the sham elections that gave them political scraps. They governed the Bantustans that were used to deprive black people of citizenship by driving them into a tiny proportion of the country.

The apartheid government ultimately was a creature of greed masquerading behind an ideology. It enabled a part of the population to loot the wealth of South Africa for its own gain, using others as a pool of cheap labour. It deliberately, as a matter of state policy, gave blacks an inferior education, so they could be “hewers of wood and drawers of water”. Yet it was always open to dialogue, as long as that dialogue enabled it to survive on its own terms.

The apartheid government did finally capitulate, but only after it realised that it was utterly alone and isolated and almost universally reviled, and the collapse of world communism meant that it wouldn’t be shielded by its erstwhile allies. FW De Klerk, the then leader of South Africa, boldly ended apartheid, but has tended to equivocate about its evil. And many white South Africans remain somewhat ambiguous, at best, about the evil it wrought. Would white South Africans have eventually seen the light if they weren’t isolated and treated as pariahs for much of the 1970’s and 80’s? I expect not.

Although I can admire the subject of this article for trying to reach out to individual racists, care needs to be taken to not read too much into his message. Evil ideologies still need to be condemned, unequivocally, since they crave legitimacy, and are often not just “idealistic but misguided concepts in the marketplace of ideas” but well thought out mechanisms for the exploitation and oppression of others.


This is the difference between individuals and organizations. At no point did the author attempt to "respect" or "open a dialog" with the KKK as an org. (I'd argue his talks were aimed at individuals.) Instead, he opened a respectful dialog with individual Klansmen.

The LGBTQ rights movement shows us the same thing. Look at how politicians who used to advocate discrimination modified their stance when family members came out to them. It didn't stop institutions from discriminating against LGTBQ rights directly, but enough brothers, mothers, sisters, sons, best friends, etc. coming out on a one-on-one basis eventually took the wind out of some of the institutional discrimination.

The idea that a group of people are less than human because of a particular characteristic is what enables this kind of institutionalized hatred. However, if we open enough one-on-one respectful dialogs across the lines that propose to divide us, the institutions that support those divisions will lose their support and melt away.

There is a long way to go. Racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. are rampant not just in the western world, but globally, and institutions reinforce these boundaries daily. However, with enough mature dialog by individuals, we can wear down hatred with respect.


I hope this doesn't come across as trivializing what you say (if so that's not my intent), for the AoEII players here it's basically the difference between a Monk-rush (where you convert enemies one-by-one and let them turn on each other) and a direct attack. Both are valid strategies - the choice, which to choose is more related to the in-game economics, so not really applicable here. But one shouldn't underestimate the effect it has on the wider 'KKK brotherhood' (or whatever they call themselves) when even a Grand Dragon gives his rope to a black man.

One thing though, I recommend everyone interested in this topic to watch the documentary about D. Davis on Netflix: Accidental Courtesy. It shows other (AFAIK failed) dialogs with other extremist groups, particularly a Neo-Nazi as well as rather extremist members of the BLM movement. Other examples, particularly Jews befriending Neo-Nazis, seem to show a pattern: You really have to be a member of the centrally hated target to be able to convince members of such extremist groups. Almost like how antidotes work - a black person can be the antidote to KKK while Jews can be that for Neo-Nazis. Maybe BLM members need to talk with white policemen and vice versa?

I'm thinking, as long as it's not someone whose group you really hate, there's always a central pillar left that keeps your belief system up. "Oh well, I guess black people can be pretty smart, but still, those Jews are what's the real danger to society, so I'd better stick to the plan."


> There is a fine line between collaboration and dialogue.

I think this is a very important point that a lot of people don't quite get.

For example, I am a pacificist. When I tell this to people, they sometimes assume I would stand aside and do nothing if a loved one was threatened with violence.

In fact, the opposite is true: I would act aggressively and assertively (or I hope I would).

Pacifist != Passive

Acting with compassion for those who hate you does not disarm your ability to aggressively support and defend your rights. Really, in such a case, one should strive to be increasingly effective.

The author of this article found a point of leverage that was effective in achieving his goals. I don't think I'd call what he was doing "dialogue," even though talking was part of it.


> "For example, I am a pacifist. When I tell this to people, they sometimes assume I would stand aside and do nothing if a loved one was threatened with violence. In fact, the opposite is true: I would act aggressively and assertively (or I hope I would). Pacifist != Passive"

It sounds as if people are confused because you are using the word pacifist incorrectly. Pacifism means that you believe violence is never the answer. Look at a list of definitions:

Pacifism: the belief that any violence, including war, is unjustifiable under any circumstances, and that all disputes should be settled by peaceful means.

Pacifism: opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes

Pacifism: an attitude or policy of nonresistance

Pacifism: opposition to war or violence of any kind

Your position may be reasonable, but it isn't pacifism.


Of course pacifism means violence is never the answer. And that is exactly what I meant. I also believe that pacifism doesn't stop me from acting aggressively and assertively. I fail to see how my position is not "pacifism."


> For example, I am a pacificist. When I tell this to people, they sometimes assume I would stand aside and do nothing if a loved one was threatened with violence.

This seems like an own-goal, as the popular perception of pacifism is just that: never using violence. I recommend not using the term on yourself, as it paints the wrong picture in people's minds. If you define pacifism as "only using violence in defense of self or loved ones", then that's totally compatible with getting a concealed carry permit and carrying a gun in public– not exactly most people's idea of pacifism.


The error is in equating "doing something" with "using violence".


A cryptic response. Besides running away (which is often not possible) what other options are there?


Perhaps somewhat inaccurate wrt a direct threat against family, but this image comes to mind:

http://www.greanvillepost.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Tia...


> If you define pacifism as "only using violence in defense of self or loved ones"

I never defined pacifism that way. It seems you are falling exactly into the trap I talked about. There are always options other than violence. They are not always good options, but neither is violence.

Aggressive and assertive action is not the same as violence.


Can you please give a concrete example of what you are talking about? As I've said: you can't always escape a threat. What "aggressive and assertive action" will you take if some crazy person tries to cave your head in with a cinder block? (This has happened to me.)

Three times in my life, people have tried to kill me. Sometimes you can't escape. Sometimes you can't negotiate. And you can't count on others to arrive in time and use violence to save you. Sometimes, the choice is simple: fight or die. Do you disagree with this statement? If not, do you think the right thing to do in those situations is to die?


> The author of this article found a point of leverage that was effective in achieving his goals. I don't think I'd call what he was doing "dialogue," even though talking was part of it.

Exactly. It's like using the feather as a replacement to the sword, figuratively speaking. It's essentially brainwashing people, but in a positive sense of the word, i.e. washing out tribal thoughts that are cancerous to a wider open society.


>And many white South Africans remain somewhat ambiguous, at best, about the evil it wrought

A lot of people involved with South Africa are ambiguous about that. The white government and people made the country much richer than it's surrounding black governed countries and the problem at the borders were always stopping too many africans moving from the surrounding countries to SA rather than visa versa. I had a coloured girlfriend from Jo'berg for a while and she was ambiguous too - no love for apartheid but no desire to live in one of the black governed counties either.


The white government and people made the country much richer than it’s surrounding black governed countries

I think you’ll find that South Africa’s enormous mineral wealth did much of that. And until the 1960’s or later, the surrounding countries were also white governed. If anything, the money wasted by segregation and the deliberate suppression of human potential[1] held the country back, and is the cause of many of the problems it faces today.

I had a coloured girlfriend from Jo'berg for a while and she was ambiguous too - no love for apartheid but no desire to live in one of the black governed counties either.

As I alluded to in GP, many mixed-race (“Coloured”), and Indian people were co-opted by the apartheid system, and indoctrinated to feel superior to black Africans, and inferior to whites, as a part of a well-executed divide-and-conquer programme. It isn’t surprising that a visceral fear of blacks is pretty pervasive in many, considering how much effort was explicitly put into making them feel that way.

[1] It was logically inconsistent that many racists claimed that blacks were naturally inferior, yet simultaneously sought to deprive them of opportunities to succeed or fail on a meritocratic basis. One wonders if they really believed their own propaganda.


> I think you’ll find that South Africa’s enormous mineral wealth did much of that

I never thought this argument rang true. Many countries with great mineral wealth are quite poor and dysfunctional, and many with little such resources are wealthy and successful anyways.

I don't agree with the apartheid racial theories, but it does seem plausible that the white side inherited and followed a successful and long-established culture of good governance (well, at least good for themselves...). Meanwhile, the transitions out was abrupt enough that the culture of the government was removed and replaced with a different culture that was less experienced with government.

I suppose in an ideal world, a gradual transition which gave plenty of time for the majority blacks to absorb the same government culture would work better. I know that isn't so easy to do in an environment where there has been such strong discrimination and racism for decades, though. And there's quite a bit of truth to the argument that it's easy for the side that's on top to want their transition out of always being on top to be slower.


I never thought this argument rang true. Many countries with great mineral wealth are quite poor and dysfunctional, and many with little such resources are wealthy and successful anyways

Agreed. I was replying to a point about South Africa being richer than its “black governed” neighbours. In fact, all shared a similar colonial history and achieved independence within a similar time period, and they were, in fact, all white ruled till relatively recently. The difference between them was the vast mineral wealth in South Africa. Ignoring this would be the same as comparing, say, Yemen and Qatar, wondering why the one is poor and the other is extremely wealthy, and deciding that Qatar’s success comes down to it being a Sheikhdom.

The transition to democracy probably did happen more suddenly than planned, because the assasination of Chris Hani by a right-wing extremist in 1993 brought South Africa to the brink of civil war, and the apartheid government pretty much lost control at that point.

And the problem with the civil service was even more pernicious than inexperience-there were multiple Bantustans that were deeply corrupt, and their civil services had to be integrated into the newly created provinces bringing the rot with them. Coupled with the ultimately self-destructive apartheid Bantu Education system, it’s no wonder that the government struggled to cope.


You are completely right, but as you condemn the ideology you need to also give a way out (hopefully not a humiliating way out) to those who have been indoctrinated (or those who have gotten used to dehumanizing the "others"). The subject of the article seems to have succeeded in this.


And yet... The new rulers are far less effective than the Apartheid government. The cost of bad government is so influential it's nearly hard to imagine.

I strongly suspect the moral accounting does not favour your position in the long term, the same argument is expressed here but in the abstract since this is of course an emotive subject.

http://lesswrong.com/lw/kn/torture_vs_dust_specks/

It moves!


The new rulers are far less effective than the Apartheid government

Are they really?

Access to water, sanitation, electricity and housing are far better than they were under apartheid. The AIDS epidemic which started in the last years of apartheid has been tamed through decisive government action. Despite a stubbornly high unemployment rate, blacks have made major economic strides. The macroeconomic situation is more stable than it was in the last years of apartheid. Even crime, as measured by the murder rate, has actually dropped.

And the apartheid government was hardly a paragon of competent economic management, running up massive debts to keep itself going, and to wage war on its neighbours and oppress its black population.

There are serious issues: education (a legacy of terribly educated teachers perpetuating their ignorance) and public healthcare are awful, and high level corruption represents a risk to the economy, but the idea that the apartheid government ruled benevolently is pretty much discredited everywhere except the darkest corners of the internet.

PS. The biggest difference between the apartheid era and the democratic one was just that: in 2016, during local elections the ruling ANC was kicked out of power by voters in some of the largest cities in South Africa. It went quietly and respected the will of the people, with no squads of secret police murdering opponents of the ruling party. Could you have said the same about the apartheid government?


We are talking about something very big.

It's bad enough this is an emotive political subject, but it's also a complex one. If I can continue to harp on my 'dust mote' fable. The life expectancy was 64 under the previous regime, and is 56 in the current one.

Some back of the envelope arithmetic.

8 years x 40 million = 320000000 person years.

Let us call that, assuming the higher life expectancy: five million dead.

That's the cost of bad government. Silent. Insidious. Real.

Now it's complex, because you'll say: "It couldn't be helped, we don't really know if the previous regime would have done better", and I'll agree with you. Then it becomes subjective because nobody can really know the answer and it's impossible to test.

I strongly suspect improper rule has led to at least several million avoidable deaths.

As I see it, if a government does 99/100 things right, but 1/100 things wrong, and those 1/100 things have a greater impact than the other 99... I think you see what I'm getting at. Good intentions, some gains morally, it's all kind of worthless if the big things aren't got right. To use a Comp Sci analogy, governments have their own version of Big O notation.


The AIDS epidemic started under the apartheid regime (not directly their fault of course),and was the reason for the drop in life expectancy. It is also moving up again with the provision of ARVs. Furthermore, infant mortality is dropping.

I suspect that your "dust mote" analogy holds, but in the opposite direction to the one you assume: the quality of life has gotten materially better for the vast majority of people (coming off a low base), but worse, or stagnated for those of us SA'ns well-off enough to frequent HN.


Some thoughts.

I suspect that when a government is unable to scale its ability to govern, the statistics become dopey.

This doesn't imply a conspiracy necessarily. It could be for instance that if people stop reporting crime, that either the crimes are not occurring or that people's faith in the government to provide effective policing is undermined.

This makes a government's statistic's office an unreliable narrator even if every person is not corrupted and competant at their job.

Semi-related: I feel a faint thrill of unease at this reasoning because of the broader notion - that any society going into reverse wouldn't be sensible to what was happening: things would just gradually get weirder. Nobody would know why. A society suffering from Alzheimer's disease. It would just get worse with the ability of society to possess executive function dropping off at a similar rate to the ability to physically function. Eventually people would be looking upon the ruin wondering what the fuck happened.

Second thought.

Although no expert on SA's economic infrastructure I do know one thing which is at odds with your portrayal. Escom is the almost exclusive provider of electric power, still owned by the SA state IIRC. It has not added any electrical generation capacity to the grid since Apartheid. Their facilities are also badly run down.

How can you claim then, that more South Africans have access to electricity? Were white people hoarding all the electricity and now it is more evenly distributed? It seems more likely that more people would have obtained access in name only.

> quality of life has gotten materially better for the vast majority of people (coming off a low base), but worse, or stagnated for those of us SA'ns well-off enough to frequent HN.

I concede it is possible I have obtained a biased version of reality from those South Africans capable of net access.

I'd suspect though that most right wing South Africans would have left 20 years ago, so the people left in SA must be the more Liberal and Left of center portion of the population, or those unable to leave. If this is true, and we believe that political character is mostly hereditary (I do), then the bias may lie in the opposite direction.

That most media sources bias would be in that same direction nearly goes without saying. Western media trumpeted a great victory after Apartheid after all.

Final thought:

For what criteria would you concede being mistaken? Mine is simple: if South Africa experiences significant increases in real wages and life expectancy goes up, then it is successful.

I put to you that since AIDs should be fatal to those without access to expensive drugs, and infant mortality likely is dropping as you said you should expect an uptick in life expectancy over the next few decades.

Were that not to occur, then something is wrong.

I know some people believe the tentacles of the former regime have gotten stronger over time but this seems conspiratorial to me and I've never heard a fleshed out explanation for why that ought to be so.


It could be for instance that if people stop reporting crime, that either the crimes are not occurring or that people's faith in the government to provide effective policing is undermined.

The murder rate is used as a proxy for the overall crime rate, precisely because murders are more likely to be reported (plenty of citiations available for this). And the murder rate has dropped since the end of apartheid.

How can you claim then, that more South Africans have access to electricity? Were white people hoarding all the electricity and now it is more evenly distributed? It seems more likely that more people would have obtained access in name only.

It is well known that the apartheid government overinvested in generation capacity in the 1980s and a lot of capacity had to be mothballed. Of course, the opportunity cost caused by this failure of central planning is less visible than the later failure by the post-apartheid government to provide for expanded capacity. Furthermore, electricity-hungry aluminium smelters were built to soak up excess generation capacity. So yes, in a sense, it was hoarded by the apartheid government.

I wonder how electricity access can be provided “in name only”. It would suggest a vast conspiracy that an ostensibly incompetent government would be hard-pressed to execute.

if South Africa experiences significant increases in real wages and life expectancy goes up, then it is successful.

Life expectancy is ticking up already.(http://www.mrc.ac.za/Media/2015/1press2015.htm)

>According to this Rapid Mortality Surveillance Report 2013, issued by the council’s Burden of Disease Research Unit, South Africa’s life expectancy has escalated to 62 years in 2013 – a staggering increase of 8.5 years since the low in 2005.

Also real wage growth has been “rapid” in post-apartheid South Africa. (https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WP/Issues/2016/12/31/Rea...)

I'd suspect though that most right wing South Africans would have left 20 years ago, so the people left in SA must be the more Liberal and Left of center portion of the population, or those unable to leave

This is an interesting point, and a bit of a sidetrack, but my experience with adult SAn emigrants indicates that they tend to be in a bit of a time warp, reflecting contemporary attitudes at the time of their departure. I expect that many were pretty much centrist or even somewhat liberal at the time of their departure, but white South African society has shifted towards a less racist position while many expats are insulated from this, and thus appear to unreconstructed apartheid apologists today.


> only after it realised that it was utterly alone and isolated and almost universally reviled, and the collapse of world communism meant that it wouldn’t be shielded by its erstwhile allies

I am confused by this sentence. At least, in Europe and US, it was the right-wing parties that supported South Africa's apartheid regime. In Sweden, it had the staunch support by the right-wing Moderate Party led by no other than Carl Bildt. And here's more on the US-ZA ties: http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/07/19/apartheid-amnesia/


That’s what I meant. It was viewed as an ally against communism by the Reagan/Bush and Thatcher governments. With the collapse of communism, there was no reason for them to continue to support the apartheid regime.


I see! That makes sense. Thanks for the clarification.


I don't think this comparison holds up. There's a not-so-fine-line between co-operating with a racist government for scraps of power, as these ostensible leaders did; and trying to communicate with, and understand individuals.


It should be noted that the isolation of apartheid South Africa became almost unbearable on an individual level, and it touched the lives of everyone in the country. No international sport (important in white South African culture), no cultural exchanges, no direct flights to much of the world, no British television shows even. South Africa was removed from the Commonwealth. Attempts to break the boycotts by "rebel tours" were met with vandalism and protest. Individual South African sportspeople were treated as villains. That excludes the economic sanctions that drove the apartheid state to bankruptcy. The line between individual, and regime was blurry, because it was known that the apartheid state was voted into power by white South Africans and they had the power to vote it out (as they eventually did).

The world decided that apartheid was immoral, and gave it no quarter.


Apartheid is much more complex than just pure racism and much is tied up in the history (and especially the mythology) of the Afrikaans.

As for your question if white South Africans would have seen the light is an interesting question. Certainly the international isolation added to the pressure to change, but Apartheid would have collapsed anyway as demographics doomed it. A good example is Algeria where French rule was always doomed given the demographics on the ground.


The hardest part of his approach is the genuine respect he showed for the racists. He approached them as reasonable and intelligent and let that work to his benefit by essentially forcing them to deal with the resulting cognitive dissonance in their heads.

The wrong lesson from this would be "being nice to racists" is somehow a meaningfully important aspect of his approach. He didn't bake them cookies and expect their racism to melt away. He showed them respect and didn't preach or moralize to them. In fact, he didn't seem to directly confront the poisonous beliefs at all.

His approach was the same as that of the most effective leaders.

So many social groups start from the premise of zero respect for those with whom they disagree. Which is great for feeling superior to others, but not for actually making a positive impact on the world around you.


> The wrong lesson from this would be "being nice to racists" is somehow a meaningfully important aspect of his approach.

Well being respectful was probably a necessary, if not sufficient part of his approach. I certainly don't think it would have gone over similarly if he had screamed hysterically in his face or hit him with a socked padlock or something...


Wholeheartedly agree. From the article:

  Violence happens only when talking has stopped.


Sorry if this comes out wrong, but it have read about a similar approach when dealing with would be IS fighters.


There really is no difference.


[flagged]


This feels like it could devolve into ”true scotsman” argument real quick. Much of ISIS fanbase are NOT out to kill a lot of people. Like a lot of white supremacists they are more about talking the talk than walking the walk. But the narrative and the quick fix for slights against ”your people” offered by ISIS and nazis are very similar.


Weeeell, I am sure if I go to the largest White Supremacist parade or enclave I have 90%+ probability or more of making it out alive. However, if you put me in Hawija or Mosul I will have about 1% of making it out alive.


So? Maybe I am tired but I don't see the point. Isn't that also because "they" know they are running the show in Mosul and can kill you with impunity, whereas the white supremacists know they'll likely be caught and convicted. In the current place and time.


Actually, you are likely right. If I was in Berkeley, the ANTIFA and left wingers will attack me because they can do that with impunity.

Good point.


The story of Derek Black is also interesting. A former white nationalist (godfather was David Duke) who would later denounce his racist views after befriending an Orthodox Jew.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/the-white-flight-of-...

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/26/opinion/sunday/why-i-left...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/podcasts/the-daily-transc...


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megan_Phelps-Roper

The same was true for Megan Phelps-Roper, a former member of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. She explained in a TED talk that ultimately after being treated with respect by the people she hated, she could not reconcile her hatred of them with those experiences.

"Sometimes the conversation even bled into real life. People I'd sparred with on Twitter would come out to the picket line to see me when I protested in their city. A man named David was one such person. He ran a blog called "Jewlicious," and after several months of heated but friendly arguments online, he came out to see me at a picket in New Orleans. He brought me a Middle Eastern dessert from Jerusalem, where he lives, and I brought him kosher chocolate and held a "God hates Jews" sign."

"It took time, but eventually these conversations planted seeds of doubt in me. My friends on Twitter took the time to understand Westboro's doctrines, and in doing so, they were able to find inconsistencies I'd missed my entire life. Why did we advocate the death penalty for gays when Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?" How could we claim to love our neighbor while at the same time praying for God to destroy them? The truth is that the care shown to me by these strangers on the internet was itself a contradiction. It was growing evidence that people on the other side were not the demons I'd been led to believe."

https://www.ted.com/talks/megan_phelps_roper_i_grew_up_in_th...

I don't normally like TED talks but hers was pretty interesting.


Pretty interesting is putting it mildly. Thanks for posting that.

But we know:

Even hate against that which is low

Disfigures the face.

Even anger over injustice

Makes the voice coarse. Oh, we

Who wanted to prepare the soil for friendliness

Were unable to be friendly ourselves.

-- Bertolt Brecht


It's hard to find the Klan online if you use Google. Google is ranking the Southern Poverty Law Center first and the Klan's sites are not on the first page. Bing is more useful:

    http://kkk.com/

    http://www.theuka.us/
Stormfront is back: "https://www.stormfront.org". They transferred their domain from Network Solutions to Tucows. Stormfront is just a forum system now. It was originally David Duke's support organization, but he's out of Congress and the Klan, and not doing much with it.

The people posting there aren't evil. They're scared. Read "The destruction of white America from the perspective of a rural white man."[1] His town and life were ruined when the factories closed, unable to compete with cheap imports. "The small town that I grew up in would be radically altered and I would experience much change in my personal life as a result of these globalist policies. The company for which my mother worked would move south of the border to Mexico. The company for which my father worked would see its doors close permanently. My reasonably prosperous family in rural America would eventually fall into destitution and dissolve. My parents would split up (in part due to these financial struggles) and I would move in with my grandmother."

This is how Trump was elected.

[1] https://altright.com/2017/09/21/the-destruction-of-white-ame...


> "The small town that I grew up in would be radically altered and I would experience much change in my personal life as a result of these globalist policies. The company for which my mother worked would move south of the border to Mexico."

I can see the impetus for anti-globalism there, but it baffles me when, for example, people use "all the jobs went to Mexico" as a justification to hate Mexicans. Wouldn't it make more sense to hate the white American managers and bureaucrats who decided to move the factories?

I see the same thing in housing protests. Gentrification sucks, but why blame yuppies just looking for a decent home rather than the landlords who are actually raising the rent?


> Gentrification sucks, but why blame yuppies just looking for a decent home

Because they're gladly paying a higher rent because they personally can afford it. That's what makes raising rents (to an unreasonable degree) possible. I think it's fine for rich people to want to move into "cool" neighborhoods, just have some solidarity and tact. There's plenty of ways to spend money, and the richer you are the better you'll be able to cope to have an okay flat for a normal rent, instead of accepting something that was half-heartedly modernized just to raise rent a lot.

> rather than the landlords who are actually raising the rent?

You can can only blame the party paying the rent for paying the rent, and only the party trying to raise the rent for trying to raise the rent. Can you show me anyone holding greedy landlords blameless while blaming the yuppies for enabling them? You said you "see" this thing, after all. Where?


> The people posting there aren't evil. They're scared.

One can be both evil and scared.

You can always argue we're all what circumstances make us. You, me, MLK, Mother Theresa, that ISIS fighter and 9/11 hijackers. However, some people end up in the ranks of evil, while others, even facing enormous adversity in their lives, don't. So we can pick onto finer ontological distinctions, or agree to more crude yet practically significant behaviouristic description.


Labelling anyone evil immediately shuts down debate given its connotations. "Evil" is frankly a less than useless term. It simultaneously includes everyone and no one.


Pointing out evil leaves no wiggleroom for moral relativism, this is perhaps why people try so hard to redefine it as to exclude about everyone.


You can label something morally wrong without employing inflammatory language like "evil". It yields far more productive dialogue.


That's a huge assumption. E.g. I reckon Dr. Mengele is evil, and I would not have any dialogue about it. That's not the point. We have a word for 'blue', 'wet', 'stupid', 'awesome'. We have one for evil too.

And for certain things, saying 'morally wrong' is downplaying it. It puts casino cheaters and Auswitz guards into the same conceptual spot.


> We have one for evil too.

Not with a well-defined meaning. Go ahead and try to nail down a specific definition of evil that includes only "heinous" moral crimes while excluding "non-heinous" transgressions. I guarantee I'll be able to drive 15 trucks through the holes in your definition.

And without a rigourous definition, people are way too cavalier in labeling others "evil", which is simply not conducive to progress.

> And for certain things, saying 'morally wrong' is downplaying it. It puts casino cheaters and Auswitz guards into the same conceptual spot.

No more than the word "fall" places sky diving and tripping into the same conceptual spot. The differences in degree aren't so nuanced that people will struggle to grasp them.


This person's life sounds like it has been hard. They have some justification to feel scared and angry at the world. However, I would say that channeling that anger into racist terrorism does in fact make them evil. They had alternatives. In fact, most people in the world have hard lives but do not join organizations committed to racist terrorism.


Sure they had alternatives, but what if it seemed to them the alternatives were "sigh and resign" vs "racist terrorism"?


Sigh and resign is the only sensible response to about 90% of life's frustrations.


So it's that other 10% to which racist terrorism is a sensible response.


How can racist terrorism be a sensible response to anything?


It's just a matter of definition. You could label any violent movement against any white colonial power as racist terrorism if you wanted.

Of course you'll say that it doesn't count for whatever reason. But try to flip perspectives for a minute and understand that to the man in the quotation, he feels like an American aboriginal watching whites disembark by the thousands from ships stretching to the horizon.

He's watching his whole way of life and his family be permanently annihilated by foreigners who hate him (and this includes both rich white liberals and immigrants). There's a good chance you are such a foreigner who hates him, too; that you'd really like to see his culture and religion and social structure destroyed. "Real 'Murican"-hating is a funny pastime to American liberals who will happily shout about the evils of Christianity and how it should be erased, to anyone who will listen.

These situations are far more symmetrical that almost anyone is willing to understand.


That's an eloquent expression of the views of the KKK.

The KKK is, however, 100% wrong to think that their violence is justified by imaginary oppression of white people.

>Of course you'll say that it doesn't count for whatever reason.

It doesn't count for the very simple and very obvious reason that colonialism was based on an ideology of white supremacy, whereas anti-colonialism was not based on an ideology of black/brown supremacy. In other words, the British thought that their superiority to the Indians entitled them to run India. The Indians didn't think that their superiority to the British entitled them to run Britain.


With you until the last sentence. Klansmen and/or Nazis do not make up nearly the demographic to move even a single electoral vote, certainly not in any state that wouldn't have voted Republican in any case.

I found the SSC article 'You Are Still Crying Wolf' particularly good reading on this topic [1].

[1] - http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/11/16/you-are-still-crying-wo...


>Tucows

Now there's a name I haven't heard in a very long time...


This is the rare case of a submission that looks like flamebait and really isn't, so I've turned off the flags on it. It's a fascinating story that easily clears the bar for being intellectually interesting, and therefore on topic for HN. Please discuss what's interesting and don't go into flamewar.

Hints: to discuss what's interesting, read the article and respond to what's specific about it. To avoid flamewar, if your comment could just as easily be posted to any thread about race, and especially if you're posting to smite enemies rather than learn new things together, stop and read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html instead.


As it happens, it is also the rare story on the subject that plays exactly to the opinion that the HN community already holds; namely that it is more effective to engage even the most vile theories in measured debate, and that any attempt to reduce the publicity that, for example, racists get will only make their ideology spread faster.

The irony being that sometimes people opposing that theory are to be found at the bottom of the threat, flagged and dead. But I'm assuming that to be the work of people agreeing with them, trying to empower them.

Meanwhile, a writer as mainstream as Ta-Nehisi Coates (https://www.theatlantic.com/author/ta-nehisi-coates/) can write all the #1 bestsellers he likes on the subject, but is considered to be "flamebait" here.


Well there's some truth to that, but I don't agree with how you interpret it. Unfortunately the question gets so complicated so quickly that I don't know how to write about it in an internet comment. So I'll respond with some things I do know how to say.

Perceptions of "the opinion the HN community holds" are in the eye of the beholder. If you don't believe me, take a look at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15307915 and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15032682 and plenty more at https://hn.algolia.com/?query=13110004&sort=byDate&prefix&pa....

People see X they don't like and conclude that "the community endorses X". Advanced version: "the moderators endorse X". In fact this is not how HN works—the opposite of X is here too, it just doesn't get noticed the same way. Since X varies with the observer, this isn't specific to any political view.

You wrote your comment in the combative style that is popular on the internet. From past exchanges, I'm pretty sure you have HN's best interests at heart as well as wanting there to be more good in the world. No argument there! The trouble with the combative style is not that the community (or moderators) disagree with the content ideologically. It's that in this style one comes out swinging and assumes bad faith. That's bad for good conversation, which is really all we're hoping for.

Ideological combat insta-sorts the world into enemies vs. fellows and goes to war against the former. Indeed that's all it does—it's always on a war footing, and we can know how it has been taking over online. We're (hopelessly?) hoping to avoid that on HN. Is that because we hold regressive views about race or are milquetoast centrists? No, it's because we'd like to have an internet forum that isn't stupid, which is what scorched earth leads to.

HN's goal is to be interesting, which means being unpredictable, which means not saying the same things over and over. Ideological battle has a different goal and requires saying the same things over and over. That is why the two are incompatible; it's not because HN promotes ideology not-X where you favor X.

I'm sure we could do better and if you know how, I'd love to learn. But we need to agree that HN's goal is to gratify intellectual curiosity [2]. I think it's fair for there to be different forums that optimize for different goals, don't you? That's this one's.

1. https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20cognitive%20bias&sor...

2. https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html, https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html


I'd like add evidence to your point that hn has multiple viewpoints. I am pretty close to the communist/socialist side of politics and find many people here who agree with me. I also find people like 'yummyfajitas who are on the opposite side of the political spectrum, and while he makes posts that make my blood boil they are well reasoned enough that I've upvoted him more often than not


Everything I have personally witnessed would categorically reinforce the idea that dialogue is productive and that lack of dialogue and data is precisely what breeds hate, distrust, and misunderstanding.

I have yet to witness a person who was shouted down and denounced say "gee, that sure changed my mind about the issues". People don't work that way.


I have been. I have to admit, it took a while, though. I've said some pretty sexist stuff in the past, and racist, and so on. I don't know if that's the best way to change minds though, but enough people telling me, "Hey, [that thing you said] is kind of sexist" changed my mind.


I would hypothesize that many people are likely to reexamine their beliefs when regularly surrounded (IRL) by people who disagree. We're social animals; we seek harmony with our neighbors, to an extent.

I think Daryl Davis' achievement is changing the opinions of people who are surrounded by supporters. That's much trickier, and killing-with-kindness seems like the likeliest approach there.


i'm curious - was that always the extent of the conversation, or was there ever a 'it's sexist because ... ' part that engaged your reason and changed your mind?


To be honest, the backfire effect played a dominant role and I don't think I was persuaded by that particular instance or any that followed. It was that things I said were called out as sexist many times, and years later I started to realize that I shouldn't be offended when that term is used, and I should be more receptive to people who feel the need to use it.


Where was Coates considered flamebait on HN? Can you provide a link? I'm an admirer of his. I see a submission of "The First White President" (which is amazing); it isn't flagged and has no comments, and looks like an ordinary victim of HN front-page roulette.


I find it deeply, deeply ironic that you speak out against open discussion of "vile theories" in one breath and then, in the very next, object to HN's readership demonstrating to you in the most direct way possible what the consequences of your own position against that kind of open discussion would be.


Ad-hominem attacks on a group of people (eg; the HN community) are not always received well by that group of people :-) It's important to make arguments in a way that your audience will be receptive to if you're interested in convincing others.

An alternative phrasing of your comment, which would conform to the HN norms you describe of measured debate, might go...

> This article takes the stance that it is effective to engage even the most vile theories in measured debate. This seems to be an HN norm as well. I actually disagree with that in special cases like racism. Here are some reasons why...

> I'm also concerned that other articles, like this[link] by award-winning author Ta-Nehisi Coates, got flagged. (elaboration...)


> your opinion is that Unspeakable Opinions should be disallowed topics of conversation?

This breaks the site guidelines, which say:

Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize.

Would you mind (re-)reading and following them when commenting here?

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Whoops, I re-wrote my comment almost immediately (recognizing the misdeeds you mentioned) but didn't click submit for a few hours.

I hope the new version of the comment is in line with expectations.

Thanks for your thoughtful moderation!


I've tried this, and sometimes it's worked. When it has, it's usually when I'm part of the group that's hated by someone. As in this article, or in my personal experience talking with people biased against atheists or liberals, I was able to make headway by demonstrating that I am not the idea of what they hate.

I have had absolutely no progress with this when talking about homophobia, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, or anti-immigrant biases. I'm a straight white male with no Jewish heritage in sight and an nth generation German-Irish American. I've tried, in earnest, to apply the same "killing them with kindness" philosophy to folks to people who hold abhorrent views towards groups that aren't like me, and it's failed miserably. The cop-out from the other party is that being liberal, I'm brainwashed or following my mainstream media marching orders or something to that effect. That my impression and my testimony that black people aren't lazy, that women are not less capable managers and programmers, et cetera., is irrelevant to the person I'm arguing with. I'm not black/Latino, I'm not a woman, I'm not able to demonstrate those things in a way that is convincing.

This is deeply disconcerting to me, because it seems allyship helps in some cases (LGBT movement) but from testimony I've heard at conferences, the best way to change a homophobic or transphobic person's mind is to first, be their friend or family member, and second, come out as LGBT. The monumental success of acceptance of the LGBT movement seems to be almost entirely from encouraging people to come out to their friends and family members. Without downplaying it too much, I think that the language of allyship is primarily helpful at convincing people in power that they can be part of that movement, but it wasn't useful in changing people's minds.

My question to Hacker News is: why should the burden be on me, someone who is opposed to the KKK and the resurgent white nationalism in this country, to befriend people? And is there any evidence (or personal testimony from other commenters) that this sort of thing works when not part of the targeted minority?

Because I am exhausted. Again, I want to reiterate: "killing with kindness" was tremendously successful for me when I was dealing with people that didn't like some group identity I shared: liberalism, secularism. But it utterly fails when I try to talk to say, a racist friend of a family member who calls Colin Kaepernick "caperdink" and Barack Obama "obummer". Kindness doesn't seem to work when as a white man, they expect me to be kind.


It actually isn't incumbent on you to do it. As a non-white person, it isn't incumbent on me to be a model minority either. What you have to understand is what the author did is above and beyond the call of duty (if there is any), and as you have found, there are mixed results when you aren't the object of hate.

I know this is not a popular opinion here amongst most HNers and probably not for you, but you can't change a majority of people. Some people will never agree with you, despite your best efforts. Nonetheless, you just need to shave off a sufficient amount to win politically and in terms of policy. People forget Trump's win was a marginal one, a couple of thousand across a handful of states. In many ways, his victory was just that, convincing a handful to vote for him, while a large number of people on the left were suppressed for various reasons.


May I ask, as a minority member to a minority member:

Why do you feel like other people hate you or your "kind"?

I'd argue its because they hold some pre-existing assumptions about you.

Do you not feel like giving up on these "haters" is because you've got a pre-existing assumption about them? Specifically that more-or-less they are the type of people who will always hate?

Their assumptions cause them to not want you around them. Your assumptions cause you to not want to be around them. Aren't those both identical? Aren't they both negative beliefs?

You might not be able to change anyone else mind, but you are the only person who can change yours. It is definitely more taxing, and I may be wrong, but isn't it energy well spent, to hold onto a positive belief over a negative one?


>Why do you feel like other people hate you or your "kind"?

In the aggregate, stereotypes, negative towards me and positive towards themselves. Essentially what you say in your next sentence, although I'd argue there are unfairly positive stereotypes for themselves too that place them in a better place than others. Might be like the "positive self-illusions" most healthy people have on a personal level[0].

>Do you not feel like giving up on these "haters" is because you've got a pre-existing assumption about them? Specifically that more-or-less they are the type of people who will always hate?

The difference here is I don't condemn a particular group of people or adherents to an ideology or set of nationals, all people are sticky in their pre-conceived notions. This has been demonstrated by psychological research, and I've run into this issue with all people I've met in my life, and surprise, not just over politics, but over all issues: choice of editor, choice of psuedocolor colormap, choice of programming language, etc. The sooner in life in general you stop trying to "save" people, the happier you become.

The subtext here I feel is that you are arguing racial stereotypes are in the same category as research approved by psychologists, but this is such a category error; it's like saying a page and a book are the same because they both have words. A racial stereotype is much lazier than one that is born through statistics, for example.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_illusions#Benefits_an...


I hear your frustration. It does indeed sound like your case is completely different from the article in two big ways. First, as you’ve noted, you aren’t whoever you are standing up for, and so knowing you doesn’t change people opinion of the other.

Secondly, it sounds like you are trying really hard to convince them, and failing. The man in the article was not trying to convince at all at first, but rather to understand. Oddly enough, working hard to understand someone else is one of the first steps to their allowing themselves room to understand your views.


No, it doesn't work for us the same way. You can't go out and befriend Klansmen and expect that to have such an effect on them because they'll just think you're one of them.

I have family like that too, and the only thing to do is be very clear you have zero tolerance for any kind of racism. Even the small kinds. You can still be kind to them once they understand that, though. I still have these debates with some of my closest family members.

The trick is not to let it get wrapped up in politics. I have an uncle who is deeply anti-liberal and who thinks I am a liberal. He's always trying to bait me into a political discussion and I just don't respond to that.


Frankly this is a situation I find myself in at every extended family gathering.

The majority of my family are simply unrepentantly biased and have no desire to change.

I don't think expressing zero tolerance for it helps, in my experience. The thing that I do is simply express my opinion on the matter, rather than my judgement of their opinion. Nobody will listen when you attempt to criticize their opinion, but they will hear you if you provide a contrasting example.

Take the example of my Aunt, who used to say "jew them down" or "got gypped" routinely.

I don't think she's antisemitic or racist per se, but man, when I said "You know, it's funny, most of the Jewish people I know are very generous and kind, they don't usually like to haggle over prices", she stopped and thought for a while, and asked me about them.

She simply doesn't know any Jewish or Romani people, so had never thought about those turns of phrase or what they implied.


Yah, my fault for a poor choice of words. I wasn't saying "zero tolerance," as in judging people or asking them to censor their opinions around me. I just meant I make it totally clear that I personally don't let racist statements go unchallenged. There are people in my family who are very close to me but know full well that if they open a certain topic for discussion, they are committing to an hour long debate they probably weren't prepared for.

I find that the plain truth is that older generations in general don't really listen to young'uns anyway, so it's not a question of how to change them, but how to make it exceptionally clear to them what my stance is, because at least then they'll know that I can't be pressured to change. Once I've done that, I'm happy going on with life and never bringing it up again.


I don't see why you should feel like the burden is on you. Ultimately you don't decide what other people think, and so you cannot be responsible for changing their minds. You can show them that alternate beliefs (yours) do exist, and that you hold them just as they hold theirs.

Unless you're involved in a personal situation where a third person - friend or family - is being a victim of hate, I wouldn't beat yourself up over your inability to do more.


The role of the ally is not to persuade prejudiced people to understand the humanity of the people they oppress. It's to model more respectful and understanding ways of relating to members of the minority group; and it's to demonstrate that prejudice and bias is not socially acceptable even among others of the majority group.


[flagged]


I'm sorry, maybe I'm misinterpreting you. Are you suggesting that the biases I'm noticing are motivated by accurate assessment of the groups in question?

I think you're making a sort of Bayesian argument for racism, and I can see how consumption of a particularly odious media diet could cause that. But I don't buy the idea that it's rational to hold racist views toward, say, Barack Obama and call him names.


[flagged]


I thought your other response about forgetting the password for a throwaway was satisfactory.

Why is it that you don't take Kaepernick at his word about what he's protesting?


Why did you create a new account?


I know this post will probably get flagged because it is so political. Still, I think this article is something everyone needs to read, especially in the current political climate where identity politics and group think have pitted groups of people against one another and spurred them to violence all over the western world.

This article shows the classical liberal values of discussion and dialogue are so important to making progress.


I disagree with it being strictly political anymore than any human story is political.

Having grown up in the south, it is indeed a powerful and necessary story.


> This article shows the classical liberal values of discussion and dialogue are so important to making progress.

Values which are disappearing on the "left".

I recently lost a friend (extreme lefty) for saying that Trump was elected because of the socio-economic situation of poor white voters in the US. He just railed on about how I was racist for daring to say that the Trump phenomenon is anything more than Americans being a bunch of Klansmen...

Oh well, when discussion is lost, you wind up with things like Brexit, nationalism rising in Europe (look at how the election in Catalonia is going today), etc..., when those people whose opinions you previously ignored decide they've had enough.

Edit - deleted the first edit.


Many Trump and brexit voters were not poor. Brexit was not mainly about poverty but fear of immigrants (esp Muslim) and antipathy to the eu.

While it is comforting to come up with a narrative which explains complex events in one neat moral parable about neglecting your own poor or extremism shutting down debate (insert personal bugbear here), it’s not helpful. Perhaps that’s what your erstwhile friend objected to.


The white working class in both the UK and US are those who have been hit hardest by working class wages going down due to immigration and outsourcing. Conservative parties always attract the rich vote.

Once again, if you ignore the root causes, you'll always get results like Brexit. Exiting the EU won't curb immigration from Pakistan, India, etc..., but it will stop workers coming from poorer EU countries (Poland, Romania, etc... BTW these countries aren't Muslim. Brexit does nothing to limit Muslim immigrants).


Immigration does not lower wages, and is not a net drain on economies in general and certainly not on the uk economy. Outsourcing certainly has had an impact, along with globalisation, the internet, and as will robotics in the decades to come (a lot of jobs will melt into air in the coming decades, not stolen by foreigners but simply cease to exist).

We are certainly seeing the results of upheaval and change leading to widespread malaise, unrest, rising nationalism and xenophobia, and I fear leading to another world war, for war is the logical endpoint of blaming foreigners, competitive devaluation and beggar thy neighbor economics.

I would urge you to study the demographics of voters in the referendum though, they were very mixed, the only clear split was urban (lots of immigration) pro-eu vs suburban/rural pro-exit. I’d strongly dispute that Brexit was some sort of rational revolt of the working class (who mostly live in cities) against an invasion of polish plumbers as you describe.

Like America First it will not end well, and certainly won’t help structural problems in the economy or dying industries. That’s a matter of National govs disgracefully neglecting their population, and as we’ll see, nothing to do with immigration.


Can you please show that immigration is the cause of wage stagnation


Tall order considering that entire papers are written on the subject, but here's some reading for you: https://scholar.google.ca/scholar?q=effects+of+immigration+w...

Keep in mind I did a degree in economics, so I studied things like this for thousands of hours...

That being said, it's a pretty basic concept that increasing the labour pool will contract wages, especially in the short run. Long term effects are generally positive, but it can take a generation or two, and for those people who are affected by the negative consequences, it's not always of much solace.


Linking me to a google search isn't informative.

First off an increase in the labor pool inherently depresses wages only if demand remains the same which would only be true if the new members of the labor pool didn't you know buy things. This fallacy is so common its called the single lump of labor fallacy. It may be true that they increase the pool of low wage workers and displace people that are only marginally worth employing but I digress.

You yourself admit that long term effects of immigration are positive just that it takes a while. This is a failure of analysis. Its a failure to consider the whole system in motion instead of at a single point in time.

By your own argument we are constantly both paying the dues to integrate new citizens and reaping the benefits of past waves of immigration. It seems at best short sighted to stop paying current dues and thereby forfeit future benefits.

When you suggest you consider the people that are negatively effected by immigration let us be clear. Minimum wage doesn't let you depress wages beyond a clear line so what we are actually arguing for is to forgo future leaders, future doctors, future engineers so that fewer McDonalds workers will be unemployed new instead of in 5 to 10 years when machines replace them.


> Oh well, when discussion is lost, you wind up with things like Brexit, nationalism rising in Europe (look at how the election in Catalonia is going today), etc..., when those people whose opinions you previously ignored decide they've had enough.

THIS. Grew up in the midwest, could've told the coastal liberals that their nonstop (and unnecessary) attacks on everything even slightly valued by the flyover states was going to cost them someday. They didn't want to hear it.


You are otherizing. Who are THEY? What are the things that are valued? Please explain how did the coastal liberals attack you.


Well you sure showed us, with this brilliant act of communal decapitation. Never mind that the people who feel hurt the most are hurting themselves the most, you're making a point or something...

Seriously, if your narrative for political change is little more than hurt feelings, maybe the "other" isn't the problem. This article should have at least showed you that putting aside the petty can have real impacts on both parties.


Firstly I'm not a supporter of this Nationalist America First agenda, though the fact that simply because I'm willing to non-judgmentally listen to their side and hear their complaints and say yeah, those things are a problem causes you to react with hostility kind of shows my point well, so thanks.

Secondly, this is not "hurt feelings," not that something -just- being emotionally abusive and nothing else should be an excuse for pretending it isn't a problem, but we'll go with that anyways. No, this is the fact that the middle state's economies have been struggling for years, and that was before the 2008 housing crash, which the cities and coasts have recovered fairly well from, but has left everyone else largely in the cold. Now, it's true that a lot of those issues can be fairly directly traced to the local governments and their bad decisions; some cities, for example Chattanooga, have done extremely well at modernizing. But to pretend that the constant drumbeat of the culture that being in the flyover states (itself a term of derision) is terrible, that everything they believe is dumb, that they're uneducated prudes and all the rest of it has caused an incredible cultural scar between the rural and urban portions of the nation. And successes like Chattanooga are in spite of, not because of, that divide.


> Firstly I'm not a supporter of this Nationalist America First agenda

What a world we live in, where a government putting their own people first is considered a bad or controversial thing...


Would you please not break the HN guidelines by going on about downvotes? Nothing justifies further downvotes more.

The problem with your comment is that it takes the thread in both a more generic and a more partisan direction. A bad combination for HN (which is not to say that you're wrong).


I didn't find it the least bit political, but it was indeed flagged and dead when I came to it. I vouched for it.


I've long said that progress involves changing individual hearts and minds more than just a political process - the political process is what happens after you've changed hearts and minds.

We saw it with the civil rights movement, we saw it with the gay rights movement, and we're going to see at some point with the trans rights movement too.

Merely showing up and demanding rights isnt enough, you need to convince people that their needs are bound up with yours.


I grew up in the south and I think people are genuinely polite to each other. African Americans, redneck racists, everyone is polite in public, but the bad stuff comes out in private, in groups and friendships. That's where the hate festers.


Daryl Davis had a really interesting AMA: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/70vcr0/im_daryl_davis...


I've seen stories about Davis in the past but never read closely, though I've idly wondered how much danger he has been in.

A couple questions ask about this and it seems he has been attacked a few times. https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/70vcr0/im_daryl_davis... https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/70vcr0/im_daryl_davis...

I'm not sure where the quote comes from, but https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daryl_Davis says:

> However, not all Klan members were receptive to Davis's advances. Some reacted with anger or even violence. Davis stated, "I was not seriously injured. I've faced knives and guns and of course fists. I've had to physically fight upon occasion, but that is not my first resort. I did not carry any weapons to my interviews. On one occasion, it was only one Klansman who attacked me. On another, it was 3 of them. I won, both physically on the street and legally in court."

I would be too scared to do what he has done, even as a white gentile. The more physical distance between me and hate group adherents, the better. But hats off to Davis and anyone braver than me.


This might not be the right place to ask this but I respect the opinion of people who read and post on HN.

I don't believe I am racist or sexist. I like to believe that I love everyone. I care about people. I don't want to look at gender or race or sexual orientation or any other differentiator when I get to know someone, or ever. I don't want to judge others. I want people to have equal rights. I want people to live happily, healthy, and safely.

But, I am a highly paid middle class white male in the US. I want to know that I am helping to bring about this equality and lack of judgement. I see articles being advertised in the middle of the parent article like "What do black people have to lose under Trump? A lot" and I think "How can that be possible?" Then I realize it is no doubt completely possible. And I know my opinion doesn't matter much but I don't want that to happen. I want people to have equal rights. I want people to feel safe, happy, and healthy. But my desire is not enough.

I don't have an answer to this problem. I don't have some ulterior Motive. This is a bit of a rant against myself. I'm upset with myself that I don't know what to do to make it better. Maybe someone here will know.


I think the easiest thing to do is just be educated in the facts and able to defend your views without getting caught up in the political rhetoric of the day.

A lot of racism is just ignorance and callousness towards others, combined with a lack of resolve to do what's right, which is really true about all of us to a degree. People feel like they have enough to worry about without others' problems. Also when you expose racism you are exposing the nasty underbelly of this country's history (assuming you're American), which is hard for people to handle. People will make some of the most embarrassing and extreme statements when confronted about race. I believe that's because the topic puts them in a state of distress.

I try and have the mindset of helping and educating people rather than judging them or censoring them. After all, if you are saying racist stuff, it is you who has the problem and no one necessarily has to say anything. It's like telling someone they still have a sticker on their shirt. You are really doing them a favor so if they don't want a favor, there's no harm in just leaving them alone. Like you said, I don't have all the answers and certainly am no Daryl Davis but I think about this stuff a lot and find myself in a lot of debates about it with family and friends.


My suggestion: since you have money, use some of that money to help correct long term structural issues. Control of land is often at the core of these issues (and limits the need to make complicated value judgements around what is helpful or not), so I would suggest looking for ways to help increase land ownership in maginalized groups. One example of the type of organization I am thinking of is Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives[0], which has a focus on correcting injustices towards African-Americans in Portland. Another would be donating money or land to a First Nation, many of which have ongoing campaigns to recover land.

[0] http://pcrihome.org/about/history


> I'm upset with myself that I don't know what to do to make it better. Maybe someone here will know.

Inform yourself about the candidates and vote. Encourage everyone you know to inform themselves similarly and go out and vote. Help those who are restricted by time, poverty, or other issues to get out and vote.

We are being ruled by those chosen by the public who cared enough to exercise their vote. If we want to be ruled better, it can only be through choosing better leaders.


Through this story, I get reminded how many times I see discussion being shut down by the phrase "As part of group X, you are not allowed to have an opinion about Y".

Talking relieve tensions between groups. It builds understanding. It one of the things in this world that can change how a individual think. Its nice to read such success story.


I witnessed onece how approaching people with genuine openness helps.

I was in Aix-en-Provence (south of France) and got lost on the outskirts of the city. I waked into a "cité", which is a large area of block of flags, poor and full of drugs and angry people.

I walked to a group, the tension was obvious but I kept on walking and approched them with a simple question about how to get to downtown, and (most importantly), what THEY think is the best way to get there. A normal person talking with normal people.

Not only they showed me the way (after arguing about the best one for 10 minutes) but hopped into a car to drive me there.

Sometimes treating peooke genuinely kindky goes a long way.


No thanks. Look, I understand where this guy is guy is coming from, but as a black man the last place you'd find me is near a self proclaimed Klansman.


It's not clear to me from this article that the author ever understood why they hated him. From this account, it seems as if he just kept hanging out with them for decades till they magically weren't hateful any more. Not sure if this is very scalable.


Research more about his style and approach. He goes to great lengths to understand their views before meeting them. In his AMA he mentioned that he would even hold debates with himself in the mirror, representing his own opponent. Extraordinary stuff.


That's great, but I agree with the OP - I expected, given the headline, to find out why the Klansmen hated him. But the article doesn't actually say. In fact it doesn't give a voice to the Klansmen at all. It just says: I went and talked to them and they became friends. Eventually they changed and gave me their robes.

Nice story and I'm sure it's true. But it didn't help me understand the KKK any better, which is a shame.


As far as I can tell, the point is that there was NO actual reason why they hated him apart from they didn't know him. Once they knew him, they didn't hate him.

The ones that changed their point of view, eventually just realised they had no remaining reason to hate him. And by extension it was irrational to automatically hate every other black person they didn't know yet.

It was his attempts to understand them, that helped some of them understand him. As he points out though, there were plenty of klan members that this didn't work out with though.

It obviously takes some level of self awareness/reflection to change your mind like that.


The author of this piece was interviewed on All Things Considered about a month ago.

http://www.npr.org/2017/08/20/544861933/how-one-man-convince...


Oddly enough, the pictures of Daryl in the article seem to show he has a lighter skin colour than the other pictures of him you can find elsewhere... in case anyone else is wondering whether that may have been a factor in his successful relations.


Daryl Davis's singular story is courageous, fantastic and inspiring. He has risen way, way above an average dork like me.


> How could anybody hate me when they didn’t even know me?

That's an easy question to answer. People are not islands. They conform to stereotypes, culture, so at least to some degree one can group people into common patterns of behaviors and values. And people can hate some of those patterns.


This reminded me of the podcast Conversations with People Who Hate Me: http://www.dylanmarron.com/podcast/


Only mentioned in the byline, but there's a documentary out with Daryl:

http://accidentalcourtesy.com


In many cases people just grew up to be and found a community where they are accepted. A dialogue with them like how it has been mentioned in the article is all it takes.


I think people join gangs and clans because they want to get respect and feel appreciated. If you give them that, the clan/gang is no longer needed.


What an incredible collection -- to keep the masks and robes of the people he has led to renounce their membership!


He did a documentary on netflix.


When an Antifa member punches someone who they identify as a white nationalist, at best they can make them shut up for a while. At worst the violence is reciprocated disproportionately. If instead the Antifa would attempt to befriend that person and to have good faith dialogues with them, they would at least have the potential to actually reduce racism, and reduce hatred on both sides.

Ideally, the result could be one less Nazi puncher and one less Nazi. And with dialog, maybe they'd discover that not every political disagreement reveals a "white nationalist".

But I suspect that for many, that would be a whole lot less fun.


I do not want to see brown shirts patrolling the streets. Antifa is effectively creating them from thin air.

>The name Sturmabteilung was first used in late 1921 when it was led by Captain Pfeiffer von Salomon. Because speaking in public was potentially a dangerous matter when politics was concerned, the original task of the SA was to protect Hitler as such events usually attracted the Communists and frequently ended in violence and disorder. This played into Hitler’s hands as many members of the SA were from the old German Army and knew how to cope during such incidents. When fights broke out the Weimar police appeared powerless and law and order was usually restored by the SA. This gave Hitler the lever he needed to claim that the Weimar regime lacked leadership and power while he was the one person who could restore Germany to law and order.


Which puts all the onus on the "not a fucking Nazi" half (not actually half antifa is wildly outnumbered) of the equation while not holding the "fucking Nazi" half to any standards re: not murdering people.

Contrarily this story starts out with the KKK member approaching and being civil to the black man.


Antifa and Nazis are both extreme fringe groups and not representative of a majority of society.

It would behoove everyone to think about that when reading about them; both extremes receive an amount of attention disproportionate to their actual amount of influence.

And by punching the Nazi, now it's a major news story with two "equal" sides instead of a footnote about a crazy dude in the subway.


Well neo-nazis believe that they are the alpha race and everyone else is subhuman/inferior. And who worships a regime that tried to exterminate quite a few of them. I’m not sure what the equal and opposite extreme to that is.

This is like the equivocating 45 is currently doing by framing fascists and antifascists as opposite sides of the coin.


Antifa believe they are morally superior to everyone else and use it to justify violence and oppression, so it is a fairly appropriate comparison. I can easily see the movement turn to killing if left unchecked.


interesting to hear Antifa feel they are ethically superior to everyone else.

my take has been that Antifa feel they are ethically superior to conservative/nazi/white supremacist/KKK demonstrators and that violence is the best policy.

it seems to me that most special interest groups in the US feel they are ethically superior to others, but they do not feel that violence is an acceptable, much less the best policy.


But surely Antifa has no problem whatsoever with firmer Nazis and racists that renounce their former beliefs and adopt more moderate views. Would you agree that Nazis and racists, by the nature of their beliefs, are not capable of offering the same accommodation while remaining racists and Nazis?


Can’t upvote enough. Antifa make themselves much more like their opposition than they think by resorting to violence. It’s a whole lot more fun to think of yourself on this grandoise crusade-battle. The irony.


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My grandfather suffered a lifetime of PTSD after having to shoot Nazis during WWII. I went to a few of his unit's reunions and have met a number of other veterans of that war.

One thing I've never heard from a single one of them was bragging about shooting a Nazi.

They suffered years and years of nightmares for having to shoot persons. They were looking through their guns sites and saw people -- young men who looked just like themselves or their brothers.

Maybe there were some who came home and bragged, but to highlight those stories does an incredible disservice to the vast majority of the others. There were things they bragged about, but shooting humans wasn't a common reason for pride.


* Because we're not in a theater of war and they're not enemy combatants.

* Because we're no better than them if we inflict wanton violence on people we would rather not have around.

* Because it's taking the bait. The whole point in kindling all this anger is bring out the worst in everyone and show the world 'the intolerant left' and stupid 'punch a Nazi' bullshit only proves their point. The more these people are silenced, attacked and marginalized by 'leftists' in power the more they're able to show just how much power 'the left' wields.

The more you fight them the stronger they get.


being tolerant of Nazis is absurd.


Yet they are also people too, regardless of how disgusting their beliefs.

Edit: I should've probably known better than to reply to an obvious straw man. Arguing that responding to nazis with violence isn't necessarily the best thing is hardly advocating "tolerance"


i suppose it helps that nazi party was abolished in 1945...


Maybe when bar fights went out of style? For many of us, all fighting is bad, other than in the military or maybe a boxing ring.

I wonder how much of this debate about "punching a Nazi" boils down to attitudes about fighting in general?

Here's a interesting essay about the reality of bar fights: http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/2014/01/21/lessons-from-bar-fi...


this is equivocation.

nazis were a german political group. they were a member of the axis forces which fought and lost against the allied forces in ww2. that group doesn't exist anymore.

so-called "nazis" that people refer to today are largely just people subjected to lazy labeling.


Would you say that someone who believes in the Communist Manifesto, is convinced by the arguments in Das Capital, who’s heroes are Lenin and Trotsky, joins a Union, tries to organise labour industrial action, writes articles for newspapers and magazines promoting communism, tries to persuade people of communist goals and values is not a communist because they are not a member of any particular formal communist party? I believe Trotsky died without being a member of a communist party. Was he not a communist? Was Goering not a Nazi when he died, and all the former members of the communist party stop being Nazis with the end of the war?

I suppose that’s one way to look at it, but why do you think that approach is useful? What does it offer us that the more straightforward approach of judging people by their convictions, statements and actions does not?


well, 'communists' aren't a specific political group that are tied to a particular time and place. a 'communist' is broadly one who supports 'communism', often as described by marx.

is there a nonzero number of people who wholly subscribe to the nazi party's politcal platform, and want that specific party to be reborn? i suppose that's likely.

however, the word 'nazi' is used to describe a vast swath of people who have little in common with them. reagan, bush sr and bush jr were nazis. jewish political commentator ben shapiro is a nazi. it's all somewhat absurd.

all calling someone a nazi - at least those that don't label themselves as such - does is curb thought, agitate emotions and rationalize violence (rather poorly, i might add).


[flagged]


this doesn't address the argument. people who say it's okay to 'punch nazis' are the same people who hit people with bike locks, assault people, destroy property and torture people. all you have to do is label a person you dislike a 'nazi' and it's a thoughtless greenlight for righteous bloodshed and alienation.


He never claimed he was addressing the argument. He just showed where you were incorrect, and you were.


i said there was a nonzero number of people who might identify as literal nazis.


You wrote:

>is there a nonzero number of people who wholly subscribe to the nazi party's politcal platform, and want that specific party to be reborn? i suppose that's likely

That's about as truthful as, "Did Hitler kill Jews? i suppose that's likely."


i don't know what you mean by 'truthful'. it's not wrong, and it's simply a nod to possibility, as that wasn't even the argument. this is just a waste of time on a tangent so someone feels like they had some kind of point.

further, your comparison doesn't seem very apt. you're talking about a historical event. compared to applying labels to people today who haven't necessarily identified as those labels, as a way to rationalize and endorse violence.


> i don't know what you mean by 'truthful'. it's not wrong, and it's simply a nod to possibility, as that wasn't even the argument.

Yes, it is wrong. Saying something is "likely" to occur, is the same as saying there is some doubt. There isn't.

>this is just a waste of time on a tangent so someone feels like they had some kind of point.

Then why are you adamant about it? Do you have to "win" every argument? The poster was right, you could have said so.

> further, your comparison doesn't seem very apt. you're talking about a historical event. compared to applying labels to people today who haven't necessarily identified as those labels, as a way to rationalize and endorse violence.

I was just trying to quickly show why what you wrote wasn't truthful via an example. Instead it seems I had to spell it out.


[flagged]


who is 'they'?

i can imagine that there is a nonzero number of people who might label themselves that way, but for any given label you can probably find at least one person who might use it on themselves.

what i mean is that 'nazi' is a term used to lazily and reductively describe a disparate swath of individuals. it's manner of use is as a thought-terminating cliche and cheap emotional appeal.

perhaps ironically, thuggish violence against actual nazis in their nascent days (not to say they didn't engage in their own) drove some amount of public sympathy and attracted support.

bad ideas need good ideas, not fists and yelling.


[flagged]


and the vast majority of 'punched nazis' have not been nazis.


> How did punching a Nazi once in a while stop being great?

Maybe when the people doing it reserve the right to decide who is a "Nazi" and who is not.


My sister's grandfather was a Nazi soldier. He became a PoW, ending up a Canadian. Eventually married someone who had had to flee Germany. He didn't need to be shot, he'd been a kid put to serve his country

Read some Vonnegut


Was he really a Nazi? He could be a German soldier in World War Two without being a Nazi, just as a Russian could have fought in WW2 against the Germans without being a Communist.


Indeed. But that goes to show that Americans weren't "shooting at Nazis" in WW2. They were shooting at German soldiers, because that's what you do in a war.


Kind of the point. War paints a wide brush of the opposing side. Being a Nazi isn't a binary thing


This has been my position on the "check your privilege" rhetoric for many years now. I've rarely found people who share my perspective on this and I'm heartened to see this perspective shared here.


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> The world already saw once what happens when you don't prevent Nazis at all costs, we don't need to repeat history.

Did you know that during the rise of Hitler, there were almost daily violent clashes - many of them resulting in murders - between right wing and left wing extremists? It was not like the anti-Nazis wren't trying to "prevent nazis at all cost". But using street violence against street violence only serves to destroy rule of law, and whoever wins the violent clashes, democracy loses.


Antifa is tolerated - often more than tolerated - despite being a violent hate group. They aggressively use violence, they aren't subtle about it, and they practically worship extremist left ideology. Everyone should be asking why that is being tolerated. It's solely due to the media having an extreme left bias. They've conditioned hundreds of millions of people in the developed world to regard the mass slaughter & genocide of left regimes in the 20th century as dramatically less important, and not fundamentally evil, versus what the fascists did. Michael Bloomberg had a nice article about the increasingly broadening ideological bias problem on the left:

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-09-28/jeff-sess...


> They've conditioned hundreds of millions of people in the developed world to regard the mass slaughter & genocide of left regimes in the 20th century as dramatically less important, and not fundamentally evil, versus what the fascists did.

While there certainly are tankies (aka people who worship Stalin, Mao and Tito) as part of the Antifa, they are by far not the majority. In fact, many left-libertarians despise the authoritarian tankies as much as every other educated citizen.


It's solely due to the media having an extreme left bias.

Are we living on the same planet?


What stopped the Nazis?


the war?


> But using street violence against street violence only serves to destroy rule of law

Which rule of law? A state that outright finances and supports right-wing terrorists (e.g. NSU), actively looks away when Nazis are terrorizing entire neighborhoods while at the same time heavily repressing anti-fascist activity does not deserve to be called a state with a "rule of law".

As for the street murders and street clashes, most of the time these were provoked by the SA marching and rioting through worker hoods (e.g. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/SA-Aufmarsch_in_Braunschweig).


I think a large number of the people protesting on the other side are not neo Nazis and white supremacist. When you demonise the other side instead of trying to understand them you can justify horrible actions.


> I think a large number of the people protesting on the other side are not neo Nazis and white supremacist

Who wears swastika flags, shows the raised arm salute or marches with robe-wearing KKK members or globally known right-wing extremists, deserves to be called a white supremacist, and deserves all consequences that come with being a neo-Nazi.


unfortunately, it seems that antifa does violence against more people than just those fitting that description.

not that the violence is justified anyways.


> This strategy only works on people not dragged into a fully closed world view composed of conspiracy theories

The article seems to refute that. Your typical KKK member does not embrace a wide variety of news, but Daryl Davis was able to get through to many of them. It doesn't work in all cases, certainly, but sometimes.


It's definitely good to talk to people like this, but it needs to be carrot and stick: their organisations need to be ostracised and labelled as the hateful, racist hellholes that they are, while people of any background still treat each other with respect in their communities.

The biggest risk with bringing the members of these organisations in out of the cold is that this might normalise the organisations and ideologies without actually destroying anything. E.g. like having a POTUS who equivocates over their behaviour.


I disagree. We get nowhere by making fun of other people or taking the moral high-ground. Progress comes by having real conversations with others, no matter how much we disagree with what they have to say. It's easy and fun to call someone racist and walk away, but the right thing to do is having them explain how they feel and just talking to them about it.

I also don't understand how normalization is an issue? We get nowhere by censoring the our least favorite ideas in society. We get somewhere by bringing them out, and talking about why we disagree with the points made, in a respectful manner.

Relevant article from The Onion: http://www.theonion.com/article/former-conservative-recalls-...


> We get somewhere by bringing them out, and talking about why we disagree with the points made, in a respectful manner.

It's not as if Neo-Nazis are "making points."


an additional argument for protecting free speech for extremist ideas: the rest of society has a better sense of who these people are, what they're doing, what they're thinking, where they're going. the rest of society has more information about the extremists than it would if they were always suppressed.


I don't think this is true. You can disagree with a person without having to make every effort to signal they are evil. If you do this it just becomes group a vs group b. We like to form groups and defend our own instinctually. But our societies have grown in a way that means these instincts no longer help us but hinder us. Only when you find a way past that can you actually reason with a person.


Perhaps we shouldn't be signaling that a person is evil, but it's damn well in unbent upon us all to trumpet the fact that their beliefs are evil.




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