Ignorance is not a compelling justification for enabling racist behavior
Please Stop Giving Trump Supporters a Stupidity Pass.
A friend recently offered a theory that I hear all too often from seemingly reasonable adults right now: Trump supporters are somehow victims of the partisan media/Religious Right Church alternate reality that they’ve been raised in and are still captives of. They’re surrounded by fake news and false stories, and so they aren’t bad people—they just aren’t seeing what we are seeing. We need to be more understanding.
I’m sorry but this isn’t an acceptable justification. It may have been in a pre-Internet era, but today there simply isn’t a reasonable excuse for being so sheltered from facts and so truth-deprived that you can’t see the level of malevolence of this President and you can’t discern how reckless and dangerous this Administration is.
People aren’t being asked to dig beneath some complex, brilliantly crafted ruse perpetrated by the Conservative media and religious conglomerates working in concert. If you can simply read the President’s own Twitter feed and not be fully disgusted to the point of vomiting—you aren’t a reasonable human being or you are willingly choosing to engage in wild intellectual/theological gymnastics in order to avoid a reality that makes you uncomfortable, and to justify some really vile stuff that no one is even attempting to conceal.
We’re all seemingly striving to be adults here, and being an adult means we’re responsible for ferreting out what is real and what isn’t, and for making good decisions with the available information. This is what we demand from our children isn’t it? We only let their ignorance be an excuse for so long, and then we remove that option because we expect them to be smarter than that at some point. If grown men and women aren’t willing or able to sift information and choose wisely because of their media choices or their circle of friends or their mental effort, the net result is the same: they are enabling and protecting reprehensible behavior that places people in great danger.
If FoxNews creates your reality, you’re going to be hateful toward lots of people. You’re going to be afraid of Muslims, “Gays”, people of color, immigrants, refugees—and on and on and on. And if you’ve been on the planet for a few decades, you should have developed the critical thinking not to allow a network that brokers in fantasy and fiction more than the SYFY channel to be your baseline for truth. That’s a you problem.
If The Religious Right defines for you what it means to be a Christian—your Christianity is going to look nothing like the actual teachings of Christ. It’s going to be an angry, violent thing devoid of compassion and gentleness—and that isn’t your preacher’s fault and it isn’t Franklin Graham’s fault and it isn’t the Devil’s fault. As a thinking Christian who supposedly reads the words of Jesus and reflects on them regularly—you should see through this sham in a hot minute and soundly reject it.
If the brazen, unapologetic racism and xenophobia and misogyny on display right now is too subtle for your sensibilities, and if nazis marching through towns with torches and pedophile politicians fall beneath your radar—you either have your head in the sand or it isn’t on straight to begin with, and either is a problem.
Many of my white Evangelical friends supporting Trump aren’t as much stupid or unaware, as they are cowardly. They held their noses last November, voted in anger or haste or error—and then quickly got out of the politics business, choosing to escape the consequences of their decision on other people. So FoxNews and the Evangelical Church have become convenient places of sanctuary for people with privilege wanting to hide. Again, they aren’t ignorant of reality—they just are opting out of it altogether. If it is stupidity, the affliction is highly selective, extremely localized, and very convenient.
It’s time we stopped giving adult human beings the benefit of the doubt, simply because we think they’re not smart enough not to be fooled by religious shysters, fake news peddlers, and political snake oil salesmen. If that is true, then they’re also not smart or mentally available enough to be presented with objective data or compelling argument and to filter them responsibility. They are practically speaking, unreachable with rational measures.
I’m tired of having to treat people like children, when they aren’t capable or willing to see what even a child can see, what my children can see. They know hatred and bullying without needing to read a think piece or do online research or unpack layers of religion and history.
I’m over justifying bigotry and racism and the horrible stuff happening in the country, and giving people who perpetuate it a pass because they supposedly don’t realize they’re supporting a monster, when most of the watching world seems to get it.
In a time when information is available at our fingertips and when conversation and study and exploration are limitless, I’ve through excusing adult men and women for not being able to make a decision that is based in reality, simply because they’re in some hateful, self-righteous, nationalistic bubble. That’s their fault, not ours. I don’t hate these people but I’m also not going to coddle them and encourage their ignorance anymore because lots of people are damaged when that happens.
Sooner or later we adults all have to own our stupidity–and choose to be wiser.
Originally published on johnpavlovitz.com as Please Stop Giving Trump Supporters a Stupidity Pass
John Pavlovitz launched an online ministry to help connect people who want community, encouragement, and to grow spiritually. Individuals who want to support his work can sponsor his mission on Patreon, and help the very real pastoral missionary expand its impact in the world.