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Moral dilemma: Being friends with Trump supporters


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#1 wisp

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 11:11 PM

I try not to refuse to associate with people whose political and/or religious beliefs are opposed to mine. I think it's important to remain open to at least considering other positions, and that's less likely to happen if I'm surrounded only by people who agree with me about everything. But right now I'm having a serious moral dilemma: Where do I draw the line between beliefs I can handle and those I can't?

 

Can I honestly, in good faith, remain friends with people who support Donald Drumpf and those like him? This feels like it goes beyond a "tolerable" amount of racism and bigotry. I hate to even think of any amount of racism and bigotry as tolerable, but don't we all have a handful of old friends or family members that we can't bear to cut out of our lives entirely, who occasionally say racist things or trash other religions without providing any reasoning? We hear what they say and cringe, maybe even argue with them, but we continue to associate with them because we love them, right? In some cases, maybe we designate "off-limits" topics because we know that we'll get angry at each other if they come up in conversation.

 

At first I even accepted that some of the people I care about were Drumpf fans. But the longer this campaign goes on, the more offensive, dangerous, and frightening his statements become, and I feel like we're at a point now where it's no longer okay by any stretch of the imagination to support this man. I can understand why there's a certain appeal to what he's saying. Whereas a lot of his initial offensive comments seemed to be more like off-the-cuff assholery, now it seems like he's starting to phrase things in a manner that sounds juuuust "reasonable" enough to appeal to scared white people, particularly those who are privileged and/or ignorant enough to consider themselves immune to the consequences of electing morally bankrupt lawmakers.

 

But… I'm a scared white person too, and I reject this, because what he's saying isn't actually reasonable! I paid attention in school when we learned about how the Nazis came to power, and I paid attention when we learned about the Japanese-American internment camps. And after 9/11, I knew this kind of rhetoric was on the horizon for us; even as a teenager I knew it was just a matter of time. And I don't understand how any decent human being can stick their head in the sand and pretend it's okay to follow politicians who base their campaigns around fascism. Even if these turn out to be empty campaign promises, how can a decent person vote for someone who calls for special IDs and state-sponsored harassment of a religious group? No matter how scared they are, how is that acceptable to them?

 

I don't think that I have too many friends who still support him, but there is one really vocal person in particular that I'm having a great deal of anguish about, a friend of mine from high school. We're polar opposites about a lot of political issues that are important to me, but I've always known him to be a good and kind person in spite of our opposing views. After the attacks on Beirut and Paris, I posted a Facebook status saying that we should all remember that extremists aren't representative of all Muslims, and he was one of the first to like and agree with the post. But he accepts Drumpf's fascist hate speech because he believes that while Drumpf's remarks are "worrisome" (or something to that effect), he's also the only one who will "do what needs to be done" to keep us safe. 

 

I'm just… I'm ill about this. I'm increasingly reaching a point where I just can't view this kind of conservative as a good person, no matter how much I care about them. If you're kind to me but you view others as second-class citizens who deserve to be branded and surveilled just because they nominally share a religion with some extremists, well then, maybe you aren't really that good of a person? I don't see these people calling for similar scrutiny of Christians, even though a person in America is statistically much more likely to get killed by a terrorist who is a white Christian. They recognize that those Christian terrorists aren't representative of the rest of Christendom; shouldn't it stand to reason that Islam is the same way?

 

I just don't know how to handle this. I've now established that yeah, unfortunately, maybe I do think some of my friends are kind of bad people, despite how kind they've been to me. But should I unfriend them on Facebook and cut them off entirely? Should I continue to post about what I believe is right and hope they'll come around? I kind of want to start a discussion on Facebook, but something about Facebook seems to make people lose their ability to have a rational discussion, and I know I would just get accused of acting childish, being ignorant, and trying to start drama. I feel like the truly responsible thing to do is to talk about this… to stop looking the other way when our friends say unacceptable things (or support those who do)… but I really, really hate debates and conflict, and I'm afraid of the social backlash I could get for bringing this discussion to Facebook.



#2 Doctor Pogo

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Posted 10 December 2015 - 02:21 AM

I'm friends with some people who I think are bad people in some very specific and kind of appalling ways. But I'm still friends with them because of other things. One close friend in particular treats her children and talks about her children and handles parenting in general in a way that is unacceptable and kind of upsetting to me, without actually tipping over into abuse. But we remain close friends, for other reasons that mostly overcome that, mainly that our personalities feed off each other in a funny way and she really, really needs a couple steady friends. There have been people who I just couldn't handle anymore, though, and I eventually had to let them go.

I think that the people who are still behind Drumpf at this point are definitely veering into morally questionable territory. I guess it comes down to how valuable the other parts of your relationship with that person are. Even beloved relatives might need to be unfollowed when they go too far, at least until the current storm has passed. You have to be the judge of whether they've changed your opinion of them enough to stay banished.

I would advise against confronting them dead on, unless you really feel like they're just missing something and could actually be convinced to come around. Mostly, having loved ones coming out against them will just strengthen their conviction by raising the stakes and making it harder to back down.

#3 Jasi

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Posted 10 December 2015 - 08:39 AM

The only time I really stood up to my dad and told him that I was personally losing respect for his political issues was when I felt like he could be hurting my brother's feelings. He's gay and my dad had been posting some homophobic things on Facebook. That was where I drew the line because I felt like I should stand up for my brother/his son. Other than that, I just try to nod and let him vent and wait for it to pass. (Of course, then there was the one time when he was visiting me here in NYC and he got mad about my just nodding and being silent and forced me to engage with him... ugh).

 

To me it's not worth picking these fights if you really care about the person. Personally I've never had my opinion changed by someone whose views were the polar opposite of my own because there isn't enough common ground to begin to have a productive discussion. My views are changed more when it's coming from people whom I generally agree with because I agree with their starting premises. I imagine most people are the same way. The way I see it, nothing good can come of engaging them. Everyone will just get mad and anxious. There's nothing lamer than being all riled up from a Facebook post (and I say this as someone that's felt that way very often, haha). I've just unfollowed all those people and made a pact with myself not to engage in this kind of discussion.

 

idk. I'm mostly just telling you my own take on it rather than giving you advice, sorry.



#4 Selena

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Posted 10 December 2015 - 09:58 AM

I think I only have one friend who vocally supports Drumpf -- an old coworker of mine. A nice enough guy, so long as you never ever ever talk about politics with him. But he posts anti-Muslim, pro-Drumpf, ultra-conservative stuff all the freakin' time

 

I don't think I'll cut ties with him. But I'll probably "mute" him on my facebook feed. I'd recommend doing the same. And if you're worried about a big argument if you post something, then I'd just block that person from viewing it.

 

Although, it is morbidly curious to see how people like that think. For science.



#5 Egann

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Posted 10 December 2015 - 10:25 AM

Cutting friendships off because of politics is not something I can approve of. For several reasons.

 

Say you do cut the friendships off. Rather than confronting the beliefs you think are bigoted, you're running away. Sure, you're not likely to change your friends' beliefs if you stay and talk things out, but if you burn the friendship down that chance becomes zero. This is the equivalent of sweeping uncomfortable truths under the rug; the problem remains constant (in fact, it will clearly get worse) but you're willing to tolerate it so long as it does so away from you. That just doesn't sit right with me.

 

But the second problem is the one I'm more concerned about. The more we socially accept people cutting off relationships to avoid talking about politics, the more the United States becomes a copy of Israel. Let's play a game of musical chairs; who gets to be the Palestinians this election cycle, the Republicans or the Democrats? Cutting social ties between parties will just make things worse because it lets people steep on either side of a divide. And this is the worst kind of apartheid; you can't fix this by tearing down a wall or removing a "colored" sign from a fountain. You're building a prison for your mind, and then encouraging everyone else to do the same.

 

I must be the only person on the planet who finds the prisons we're building much more terrifying than the politicians we elect. Between the Supreme Court and the ACLU and all of the special interest groups in the US, there are a lot of watchdog groups which will control the amount of damage any president can do (rephrase of the Federalist Papers). The worst thing I can see Drumpf doing is being such a bigot he inflames the left's base to take action. Which, by the way, is almost exactly what happened to Obama with the right. In a sense, that backlash is what made Drumpf.

 

But if people start building prisons for their minds, those watchdog groups become useless. I seriously doubt that electing a single politician will turn the United States into 1984's Oceania. It might, but I doubt it. Burying our heads in the sand, however, will do it every single time.

 

The sad thing is I seriously doubt I can stop this. CGP Gray made this video earlier:

 

 

I can visibly see conversations between groups turning into conversation about the other guy behind their backs. It's a subtle shift, but it has profound implications. The inertia to turn the internet into this is powerful, and I really don't think I can stop it. But rest assured, I will try.



#6 Jasi

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Posted 10 December 2015 - 11:42 AM

Say you do cut the friendships off. Rather than confronting the beliefs you think are bigoted, you're running away. Sure, you're not likely to change your friends' beliefs if you stay and talk things out, but if you burn the friendship down that chance becomes zero. This is the equivalent of sweeping uncomfortable truths under the rug; the problem remains constant (in fact, it will clearly get worse) but you're willing to tolerate it so long as it does so away from you. That just doesn't sit right with me.

 

This is all true, but the point of most friendships isn't to change your friends' beliefs or to uncover the truth. It's supposed to be like a mutually beneficial relationship; you both enjoy the other's company. If the other person is only driving you insane, you shouldn't be friends with them.



#7 Delphi

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Posted 10 December 2015 - 12:40 PM

Most of the Drumpf supporters in my life I'm only peripherally engaged with. Usually old ward members that I was indifferent to in the first place, family members I don't care if I miss off, etc. I mean I basically went all out and called Drumpf a terrorist himself yesterday! And I'll admit I'm actually waiting to see who unfriends me for that.

So I did a lot of hand wringing and then finally came to this conclusion. Sitting by and letting this kind of hate fester doesn't help anyone and can actually actively hurt others.

I, as you've seen, will actively post what my feelings on Drumpf are regardless of who on my friend list I offend. If my opinions on this douche canoe offend them, the unfriendly button is right there. I just unfollow the ones that have a history of hateful comments and figure I'll piss them off enough to unfreind me eventually if we disagree that adamantly. I'll still be nice but I'm not going to sugar coat what I see as a huge danger to our way of life just so their precious fees fees don't get hurt. People are dying trying to run away from the same people we're afraid of. Hurt feelings fall pretty far down my give a shit list when that's going on. And if our only interaction in years was a Facebook argument with them supporting what i see as the personification of all things wrong with America, should I really be all that upset about losing them as a Facebook friend? After writing about it in my space on my wall?

I also came to the conclusion that I prefer a small, safe group of close friends and I am cordial to the rest of the people I know unless given a very good reason not to be. I have to keep telling myself that friends aren't pokemon. You don't have to catch them all. And really, did you want a whole box full of Muks, Grimers, and Trubbish anyway? Set 'em loose and keep the Pokemon you actually like.

#8 wisp

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Posted 10 December 2015 - 12:52 PM

Yes, the point of having a friend is supposed to be that you enjoy being around each other. Like I said, political differences are one thing. I'm pro-choice, but I have pro-life friends and that's fine. I'm an atheist, but I have religious friends of many persuasions. I believe it's morally repugnant to oppose same-sex marriage rights, but I have friends who oppose marriage equality and we otherwise get along fine. There are many political and social areas where my friends and I may disagree. And when I'm presented with facts that demand I change my stance on something, I consider them carefully and change my stance if I find them compelling. I stated up front that I don't insulate myself against opposing ideas as a general rule.

 

But when a friend or family member supports a politician who says that all Mexicans are rapists and criminals, that no Muslims should be allowed to enter the country (potentially including those who are US citizens), that all Muslims should be marked and monitored like Jews in Nazi Germany, and that he possibly would have supported the Japanese-American internment camps in WWII, and who fabricates history and makes untrue claims about Muslim tailgate parties in NYC on 9/11 - an event that we all lived through, no less, hearing zero news about these alleged public celebrations - this feels like a lot more than your run-of-the-mill difference of politics. 

 

It's not necessarily about whether Drumpf would actually be able to carry out any of the horrible things he spouts off about. I know that our country has checks and balances that are supposed to prevent that and hopefully would (though there have been a lot of atrocities in our history that I feel should've been prevented by the system). The issue for me is that people actually want him to do those things and whether I can stomach being friends with people who think it's okay and good to elect someone because he promises those things, regardless of whether or not he can deliver.

 

To be frank, yesterday was a very high-anxiety day for me, and that always makes things seem bigger and badder than they would otherwise. Today I don't feel as anxious, and this doesn't seem quite as much like the end of the world as it did yesterday. But it's still something I'm struggling with and something that's making me ill. And to address the last part of Jasi's post from a few posts above... Yeah, I guess I did sort of phrase it like a question, but I'm not really looking for advice, just a discussion. The question was more of just me talking aloud to myself. XD 



#9 Selena

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Posted 10 December 2015 - 01:40 PM

It's okay. I'm constantly wanting to argue and post rants about all the things that are going on, but I've always tried to avoid discussing politics on facebook, so I've largely kept silent. Maybe I shouldn't. I'm always torn about whether I should go for it or not. 

 

I honestly don't know how things have gotten this bad. It feels like people are looking for fights -- looking for any excuse to go after the "others" in society. Maybe it's because American culture has been going through some big changes, and white Christians are starting to feel challenged by all these brown people and alternate lifestyles. When your cultural influence has been unrivaled for most of your nation's history, it feels like you're suddenly being "oppressed" when you actually have to start sharing power and influence with other groups. 

 

Drumpf has tapped into those emotions. I don't even think he really believes half of what he says, and he's openly admitted in his books that he bullshits and tells people what they want to hear in order to close deals. But even if he doesn't believe in everything he says, his words are encouraging American nationalists to take bolder actions. And that's awful.



#10 wisp

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Posted 10 December 2015 - 01:50 PM

Exactly! I actually halfway believe he's a Poe or that he's a plant for some other kind of political stunt - but simply knowing that so many of our citizens agree with the hate speech he's spouting is really scary to me. It makes me think twice about who my friends and neighbors really are, and I don't like a lot of what I'm seeing. I'm heartened by the number of people I see speaking up against these ideas, but I'm discouraged, infuriated, and frightened by the number of people I see agreeing with him. I saw a really, really scathing Gawker piece last night about how he doesn't respect his supporters, and while it was obviously written purely for the enjoyment of a liberal audience, I thought it was 100% right. 



#11 Hana-Nezumi

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Posted 10 December 2015 - 02:29 PM

Maybe I'm an ass, but I say fuck 'em. You have no obligation to continue to be friends with someone if they have genuinely shitty beliefs. In my book, if the person isn't family, or a coworker, or an unavoidable long-time member of a community/group you frequent, there's no reason to have to painfully tolerate someone who spews garbage that pisses you off. Tell them off, cut ties, whatever you need to do to feel like you're getting the closure that you need.

#12 JRPomazon

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Posted 10 December 2015 - 05:01 PM

Friendships and politics are two things that don't mix. Might as well mix oil and vinegar.

 

That being said, a friendship is a dynamic relationship that is the culmination of various aspects and traits. There are obviously going to be a mix of things in that bundle that don't always compliment each other but you need to figure out whether the pros out-weight the cons. A certain political stance or religious belief can set people off and away with no trouble but the thing to remember is that these are not the entirety of a person's personality. Personally for me, there is a huge difference between folks I'm friendly and polite with and people I actually call my friends. I'm a Christian in a very blue state and a majority of my friends have distanced themselves from religion all together but if they were to ask me questions on why I believe what I do or if I were to ask them why they choose not to follow a religion then that dialogue could be had in a civilized manner. With people I'm just friendly with, I just don't talk about it and will respectfully decline that subject of conversation.

 

So you need to ask whether these people you're talking about are people you are that close to or just folks you need to just smile and nod for. Because I know for a fact that Drumpf scares me. He scares me because people are eating up the shit that flops out of his mouth and he's far too egotistical to change his mind or stop. The man could have accidentally lit himself on fire and he'd find a way to justify it as a good thing because he's so full of himself. But he does brush up on some very basic truths I can't refute. People are scared. No one has any faith in the powers that be to do anything about what's been going on these past few years as we've dug ourselves in and out of wars in the middle east, tanked our economy, sold out our children's and children's children futures in a variety of different means all the while things get progressively worse. That isn't to say we haven't had our victories but it hasn't been enough to say we're living in a golden age of any kind. And that's what people want, it's what we've wanted since Obama took office almost eight years ago with the promise of Yes We Can and Change and all that. It's just that the promise of a better America is something that has multiple interpretations. But I've gone on long enough on this.

 

Anyway, don't go burning bridges till after the primaries. There's a chance we might not see Drumpf on a ballot for the Republicans and I'm hoping on anyone else to take that place, save maybe Jeb Bush because FUCK THAT NOISE.


Edited by JRPomazon, 13 December 2015 - 12:32 AM.


#13 Delphi

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Posted 11 December 2015 - 12:56 AM

I'm with Hana. Maybe I'm just being an old grump but I don't have the energy to put up with bullshit from people that aren't an integral part of my life anymore. And I don't expect others to just put up with my bullshit if they don't agree and we're not particularly close. Plus you'll never be able to please everyone no matter how friendly and accommodating you are.

As a picture I found said, "You cannot make everybody happy. You are not pizza."

Be happy and don't invite stuff that sets off your anxiety into your life unless you're sure it's worth it.

#14 Jasi

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Posted 11 December 2015 - 07:08 AM

Might as well mix water and vinegar.

 

Do you mean oil and water? :P Water and vinegar do mix. 

 

I'm bringing the hard-hitting questions to this thread.



#15 Veteran

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Posted 12 December 2015 - 04:40 PM

I'm lumping this problem in with my previously noted dislike of morons using the internet. Life was more straightforward when you didn't know what someone else was thinking.

I've always been taught that you don't discuss religion or politics with friends and family out of politeness. The same kind of social taboo as discussing personal wealth or women not wanting to reveal their age, that kind of thing.

Why the internet (read: Facebook) makes people lose any and all sense of shame is a strange phenomenon but ultimately useful I guess. Now you know who deserves to be ignored.

#16 Egann

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Posted 12 December 2015 - 11:50 PM

...

 

But when a friend or family member supports a politician who says that all Mexicans are rapists and criminals, that no Muslims should be allowed to enter the country (potentially including those who are US citizens), that all Muslims should be marked and monitored like Jews in Nazi Germany, and that he possibly would have supported the Japanese-American internment camps in WWII, and who fabricates history and makes untrue claims about Muslim tailgate parties in NYC on 9/11 - an event that we all lived through, no less, hearing zero news about these alleged public celebrations - this feels like a lot more than your run-of-the-mill difference of politics. 

 

It's not necessarily about whether Drumpf would actually be able to carry out any of the horrible things he spouts off about. I know that our country has checks and balances that are supposed to prevent that and hopefully would (though there have been a lot of atrocities in our history that I feel should've been prevented by the system). The issue for me is that people actually want him to do those things and whether I can stomach being friends with people who think it's okay and good to elect someone because he promises those things, regardless of whether or not he can deliver.

 

The unfortunate truth is I know for a fact that at least two of the "facts" you cite about Drumpf are highly sensationalized. Specifically the database--I've heard that soundbyte and he actually appears to be talking about his wall on the border--and the claim of Muslim tailgate parties is an interesting case of everyone being right because they're both exaggerating half-truths. (Source: Drumpf is backed by an unsourced AP article. The Associated Press prides themselves on factual accuracy and reliability, so let me translate this contradiction for you; there probably was a reliable source, and it was probably removed at some point.)

 

Drumpf is exaggerating to inflame his base, the news media is exaggerating to make you scared because scared people sell ratings. The moral of the story is to not believe everything you read or hear. Drumpf has connections with the Clintons (he decided to run shortly after calling Bill) and is a very intelligent real estate mogul. Point is, he knows better than to say or act on this stuff even if he believes it. If he doesn't mysteriously move to the center for the general election--EVERY consultant worth a dime in Washington knows you start wide to pull the nomination and slide center to clinch the popular vote--it's because he's playing a Bond villain to make Hillary look good.

 

In case you can't gather, I don't like Drumpf one bit, either, but for completely different reasons.



#17 JRPomazon

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Posted 13 December 2015 - 12:33 AM

 

Might as well mix water and vinegar.

 

Do you mean oil and water? :P Water and vinegar do mix. 

 

I'm bringing the hard-hitting questions to this thread.

 

Well, my knowledge in science is surpassed by none. ;d


Edited by JRPomazon, 13 December 2015 - 12:33 AM.


#18 Hana-Nezumi

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Posted 13 December 2015 - 01:21 AM

(wait never mind I didn't say anything)

Edited by Hana-Nezumi, 13 December 2015 - 01:23 AM.





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