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We have to shun these Republicans


I’m sleeping better going into this weekend. I’m now convinced that Trump will soon be gone—either through Impeachment, or the 2020 election, or by his own hand. However it happens, we’ll soon be done with the most disastrous horror that has struck America since the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

What brings about this peace of mind is, as I blogged the other day, my belief that the long-fabled Tipping Point has been reached.

Trump’s foulness finally has caught up with him. Like water chipping away at rock, three years of exposure to Trump has convinced a solid majority of the American people that this aberration cannot go on any longer. Black and Brown people are effectively united 100% against him. So are younger voters and those in the suburbs. Even the working-class men and women, ranchers and farmers of the Rust Belt, Bible Belt and far western states have woke to the disgrace and danger this man, and his willing white-nationalist henchmen, pose to America, and to them personally and their families. Things have gotten so bad for Trump that his supporters have to keep their allegiance to him a secret, lest they be ridden out of town with tar and feathers, their companies boycotted, their families shunned.

There is an old concept in civil self-governance: shunning. This occurs, says Wikipedia,

“when a person or group deliberately avoids association with, and habitually keeps away from an individual or group…as a form of solidarity. It is a sanction against association…Targets of shunning can include…anyone the group perceives as a threat or source of conflict.”

In the olden days, communities shunned members who were perceived as dangerous or undesirable. This had, of course, its bad effects (homosexuals were shunned, and sometimes those shunned, such as “witches,” were brutally murdered), but on the whole, shunning was a good thing. There is such a thing as societal norms. Individuals who willingly breach those norms must be advised that to continue to do so will be more harmful to themselves than to the greater community. This kept people in line, in a day and age before police, courts, newspapers or social media existed.

We as a society must shun Trump supporters. We must let them know that their behavior is completely unacceptable, if we’re serious about valuing diversity, fairness, civility and decency. This is why, when the rightwing billionaire, Stephen Ross, tries to explain away his fundraising for Trump on the fake excuse that he doesn’t agree with everything Trump says or does, his excuse doesn’t hold water. He can’t say he likes Trump’s tax cuts (of course he does!) and then say he denounces the white nationalism and racism. It doesn’t work that way. If he supports Trump to any extent at all, then he’s in favor of racism, of locking brown babies in cages, of vile rhetoric that inspires mass murderers. Stephen Ross can’t have it both ways. When the people who use his Equinox and SoulCycle facilities boycott them in protest, they’re employing a modern-day version of shunning. It’s the only way to get stubborn offenders like Stephen Ross to listen, to hear the voice of the majority.

Any Trump supporter can be shunned, anywhere. Admittedly, this can be difficult. Thanksgiving is coming up. What do you do when you run into Cousin Alan at the family dinner when Cousin Alan is a certified Trump nut? Do you forgive and forget and recall pleasanter times? Do you simply eliminate politics from the conversations? I would argue, No. If you let Cousin Alan think all is well despite the disgust you feel for his political leanings, you are sanctioning his beliefs (in a positive sense) and telling him, in effect, “Never mind what I say about Trump and the people who support him, I don’t really mean it. You’re still okay in my book.”

This is a wrong-headed approach. To shun Cousin Alan, to let him know how you really feel, doesn’t mean you don’t love him. It doesn’t mean you’re not hoping and praying he comes to his senses. What you must do is an intervention: let Cousin Alan know, gently and lovingly, that you (and, hopefully, the rest of your family) are shocked at his embrace of a racist monster. Cousin Alan will try to defend himself by arguing that, yes, Trump is a pig, but… (and he’ll have all sorts of “buts” to offer). He’ll explain that by supporting Trump on, say, immigration and tariffs, he doesn’t mean to excuse Trump’s disgusting, racist statements.

Don’t fall for it. Patiently explain to Cousin Alan that by continuing to support Trump he is excusing Trump’s racist statements. His continuing support is tacit support of racism, of neo-nazism, of virulent white nationalism, of undermining our Constitution and our way of life. Confronting Cousin Alan in this way may lead to a temporary straining of your relationship with him. But that will pass, and you can only hope and pray that your words will find their way to Cousin Alan’s heart.

Have a great weekend! Stay safe. If you have a Cousin Alan, confront him.

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