Be Cool, Phoenix

Phoenix Billboard
Tempers are flaring across the country. Protests and counter-protests — always seeming on the brink of violence — are becoming normal.

Last week a white supremacist weaponized his car, killing one, injuring many.

Nazis and KKK members are rallying in the streets.

How do you not respond with anger? So the saying goes:

“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for well-intentioned people to do nothing.”

Speak Up! Make your stance known. I unequivocally condemn the Nazis and the KKK and the white supremacists. Any demonstration of racism is evil and un-American. 

The anger is hot against Donald Trump for not uttering those words soon enough. And then going back on them in a press conference where he blamed the Left for fighting against the Right. “Both sides” were violent, he said. Why do you not call them out?

The obvious reply: One side is for white supremacism, one side is against it.

The less obvious reply not in vogue right now but needs to be confronted before more violence breaks out: These fringe right-wingers thrive on confrontation. They want to provoke anger. They want to bait a violent response.

Because a violent response = chaotic street fighting. Which strengthens their political talking points.

The Civil Rights Movement was effective because of their non-violent discipline. It was a coordinated effort. People trained for non-violent resistance, practiced in staying calm and patient when provoked with anger.

We need to think bigger picture. What’s the goal of these white supremacist folks marching in Charlottesville? According to them, it is to get attention. These groups are “counting on the media to serve as their amplifier.”

So do you ignore demonstrations of overt racism? That doesn’t make sense, either.

I have been thinking a lot about this short Twitter thread, written after the Tiki torch rally but before the car-attack, by technology writer and philosopher 

Conflicted about this, but still think it may be wise to starve for attention those whose maliciousness is fed by it.

I understand that this cannot be the only response, but it seems a useful tactic as part of a larger strategy.

Sometimes “the best I can do is to kill the message in my little corner of the network.”

Resist locally, starve them for attention digitally.

Donald Trump will be in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday. God knows what for. A campaign rally? Sheesh. To pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio? To rally his base?

At the least, this is an ill-timed political stunt. At worst, it will be cause for violent conflict in my home city.

If Donald Trump understands anything, it’s how to be provocative.

Downtown Phoenix will be a circus of Trump loyalists and protestors. The anger from Charlottesville — and Trump’s pathetic response to it — still fresh in everyone’s minds.

Trump is the circus ringmaster. Top Clown. President over the rising courage of bigoted trolls.

Like Trump, convicted criminal and former Sheriff Joe Arpaio is an attention whore. If he does get pardoned, at least we won’t see Joe all over the news, each step in the legal process.

My hope is that the “resistance” shows up committed to non-violence, in word and action. No need to curse Trump supporters. What will that accomplish other than releasing your own anger?

Be cool.

We’ve already seen active non-violent responses to the ugliness on display last week. Bipartisan political agreement that Trump equating the KKK with it’s opposition was wrong. Business leaders dropping out of the council advising Trump. Charities pulling their events out of Mar-a-Lago. White supremacists photographed at rallies being identified and ostracized. Parents of neo-Nazis condemning their children’s actions.

Non-violence can be practiced whether you attend the rally in person, or whether you stay at home and follow developments on social media. Be mindful what you post. Remember their goal is provocation. Humor can be a powerful tool.

I hope and believe we will get through this chaotic era in one piece, perhaps edified by our blunders.

The trolls want to provoke your emotional righteousness. Strategic non-violence will beat them.


Author: Billy

High school teacher and blogger.

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