Talking Turkey: Practical Strategy

Here in the U.S., the holidays are coming and that means some of us will be sitting down with family and reconnecting with more distant friends. I think there has to be a high priority on talking with those in our social circles who voted for Trump. Let me lay out a little more what I mean.

First, I’m mostly talking to white readers, and especially to white readers, since this is largely our experience and, I think, our responsibility. (Comments welcome from all of course!)

Second, if you’re white and have no kin or acquaintances who voted for Trump, I implore you to wonder why. This is not, I think, something to be proud of but is, rather, indicative of how we got here. If progressive white people don’t know white people unlike themselves, we’re abandoning the work of persuasion where it could be most effective. There’s much talk of the bubbles in which we surround ourselves, so if you’re in one, please get out of it for a spell.

Most importantly, the election is over so that means the temptation to go back to “normal” is strong, going along and passing the potatoes while leaving politics and other bits of “unpleasantness” aside. I think this temptation should be resisted. The election is over, but what’s coming next is not. It’s not clear what power we all have but my guess is that remorseful Trump voters would be a help. So too would Trump voters encouraged to oppose things they may have let slide when it was all ostensibly in service to “campaigning.”

With all that as preface, what I really want to talk about is how to talk to your Trump kin and acquaintances.   I retain the conviction that, particularly where personal connections are concerned, polite interaction has value. Likewise, while feeling polite might be hard, being polite might be more heroic. White-to-white disapprobation delivered rudely or uncivilly is usually strategically inept and, worse, can be self-serving. It’s cheap and easy for white progressives to disapprove of the Trump voter and thereby confirm a moral self-conception in which one is not one of them, but what’s the point, really? The quick thrill of being one of the “good guys” isn’t going to move things in a better direction. Signaling that you’re “progressive” has power if you’re trying to make clear to people at risk that you are not a threat and have their backs, but that’s not my target here. I’m talking about how white people talk to white people when others are not in play. In that context, polite can do things. Still, if you’re doggedly or temperamentally committed to more pugilistic interaction, don’t overlook the potency of polite interpersonal disapproval: Consider it giving up your guns-blazing approach for a clever, soft-footed ninja shiv, if you must.

So, here’s what I can muster about how to talk with maximum reach, with some attempt at empathy and concern, and with some hope of drawing out personal connections that can effectively contribute to persuasion. I’m mostly going to be talking from experience here, so factor in that all this comes from the people I know and your people may be different. Please contribute more strategies in the comments!

Bringing one’s personal experience to the table. Many of those I know have themselves very small circles. They may not be encountering people unlike themselves, much less those who are afraid and worried. There is power is using yourself to draw them out of their own orbit. E.g., say to family: “My friends are really concerned about X and I’m afraid for them about this.” My family cares about me and so, by extension, they care about my friends. If they see I’m distressed for my friends, they’re more likely to give uptake to what’s distressing. Saying out loud that people I care about are hurt or at risk makes everything more live and immediate, less abstract and distant.

Connecting with people’s existing commitments. Manichean assumptions about people are not helpful. Most have existing moral commitments that are betrayed or have been overmastered by whatever motivated them to vote for Trump. Invoking those overmastered commitments is useful, not just for persuasion but for seeking to understand what’s going on with them. E.g., if you have Christian family, ask them how they’re squaring what’s happening with their Christianity, invoke Christian compassion and the “least of these” doctrines, invoke Trump’s moral character, etc. If you have kin with daughters, ask them how they’re reconciling Trump’s attitudes and conduct toward women with their care for the women they love. (Yes, I know that being someone’s daughter should not be the resting point for women’s value, but I’m talking rhetorical presentation and emotive connection that might do something, however imperfect in principle.) Tone matters here: The point is not to start quarrels over these commitments, but to express confusion about how everything coheres for them, gently asking them to seek coherence themselves. Here too, my assumption is that expressing puzzlement that someone is not acting on values you thought they had has power to oblige them to explain, to themselves, what they’re doing and sanctioning. And, maybe, to reconsider.

Hypotheticals and, increasingly, actuals. I am trying to harbor trust that not all those I know who voted for Trump can be on board with, e.g., his employing a white nationalist advisor. Likewise with future possibilities that may be coming down the pike. So perhaps it’s useful to pick at these discrete issues, rhetorically inflected to invoke their commitments or your esteem for them – e.g., “You can’t be comfortable with his chief strategist pick, can you? I would think you’d find that disturbing and worrying?” Again, the aim here is to encourage people to lay themselves out and lay out their limits, so that they are encouraged to find them, to find their own limits. To emphasize, I say this in the trust or hope that many have limits that are already being defied.

Deploy disappointment. If your kin and friends care for your good opinion, I think letting them know that you’re disappointed is valuable. It might be especially useful if you frame with respect to your prior expectations of them, e.g., “I would have thought you’d be unable to accept X.” This is closely related to the point above about their commitments, but here what I’m trying to emphasize is that disappointing others and feeling shame before them is powerful stuff where interpersonal relationships are concerned. Stimulating that can be useful, though that likely it won’t happen if you go guns blazing. For me, this is hooked in, emotionally, to wanting to respect and admire those I love and care about. So, the aim here is to let them know when that is damaged. Families and friends do this all the time and often not to the good, but perhaps it can sometimes be on the side of the good.

Struggle. Political discourse is so fraught at present that the impulse to quarrel with Trump kin or friends is going to be high. Anyone following the news will find much to exercise her anger or dismay. Off-loading that anger and dismay onto those around you might feel gratifying. But I think a more promising course is to try not to. Instead, try to struggle out loud. I.e., confess that you are struggling to accept or understand or countenance what’s happening. This is to register the events, but with the personal inflection that more typically belongs to our interpersonal relationships. One isn’t venting but asking someone to see that you are struggling and to register this fact as something that involves them, that solicits their help. To see you angry might tempt others into a host of less useful reactions (“There she goes again.” Or “Why must we talk politics?”). But struggling invites people to try to sympathize and understand, perhaps even, via social contagion, feel some of the struggle as their own.

Don’t not talk. I trust that every white person has had the experience of hearing kin, friends, or acquaintances speak white-to-white in racist ways or with racist inflections. And I’m pretty sure all of us have sometimes let this slide by. Don’t. Prick the bubble they think they’re in and let them know that their views are not shared. It doesn’t have to be done rudely – and indeed, I think doing it with real disappointment is often far more potent – but do it.

Finally, let me just anticipate the objection that all this soft touch, stay polite business is unwarranted. At risk of sounding rude, I don’t really care that your delicate conscience and vaunted personal integrity might not like dissimulation and indirection. I care more that you have some effect on the people you can reach, and I’m thinking for a lot of us, polite is more promising than retracting or letting fly with open anger. If you and yours achieve persuasion through fisticuffs, then I guess you can have at it. For the rest, focus.

9 thoughts on “Talking Turkey: Practical Strategy

  1. The have a 2nd cousin I won’t see until Christmas and one Facebook Friend–Mormon and ex-military–who are Trump supporters. Dunno what I’ll say to Cousin. With my FB friend, I get a kick out of ‘liking’ his militaristic posts–and that sincerely because I’m a hawk. He posts weird stuff, e.g. the revelation that anti-Trump demonstrators were getting paid $3500 a pop. I noted that I was going to the One Million Women March in DC in January and needed to know where to apply for the $3500 since I had just had a new roof put on and needed the money.

    I appreciate the value of the kind of dialogue suggested here and dunno how I’ll handle it with Cousin this Christmas. Not my way though. To me, I ‘witness’ by letting it out that I’m a ‘regular guy’, so to speak. And this isn’t an act for me. I really am a hawk. I have nothing against guns. I have no sympathy for ‘trigger warnings’, ‘safe spaces’, etc. I’m worried about climate change, which I certainly do not believe is a hoax, but I’m no environmentalist. And I love my beautiful red Toyota Tacoma.

    Maybe what I’m thinking here is that in addition to, or preliminary to, engaging in dialogue it may be worth something to get it across who we are, that we aren’t the stereotypes people imagine. I am an urban-coastal lefty-liberal college professor. I read the NYTImes. I’m a feminist. I like ‘classical’ music, etc. etc. etc. But I share lots of interests with lots of people that aren’t specific to my tribe–I like dogs, bike-riding, and knitting. And I drive a pickup.

    I suppose to me it seems that we’ve become so alienated, so remote, that people on opposite sides of the Divide see one another as caricatures, and that that needs to be addressed.

  2. This is fantastic, and I think provides a lot material for talking about politics in general. But, I’m wondering if you or anyone else have recommendations for talking to relatives who are liberal, but who are comfortable in their place of privilege and will probably do little or nothing to help more marginalized people or take political action without being forced to.

  3. Ask how they feel about John Bolton for secretary of State, Net neutrality, What you kind of healthcare might be better than obamacare, pardoning snowden and assange, whether you think he should forgive and forget with paul ryan and pass his budget, or if the mood is less trickle down and more keynsian in the rank and file nowadays, and if so is some big infrastructure spending actually a good idea.

    I soaked up soooooo much conservative/libertarian/far left talk show podcasts this year trying to get a good fingertip feel for what the vibe was among his coalition, and I think it’ll be a very interesting couple of months.

    Technically, most of his votes came from lifelong repubs, who put a brave face on, lined up and did the right thing by the party. With house and senate control, I think they’ll be hoping he’ll just sit there and sign whatever paul ryan gives him and try not to screw up.

    But the big anti-establishment crowd he pulled, like the reddit kids, the alex jones people, the milo yiannopoulos fans, the bernie defectors, the libertarians…they loved him being anti-war, loved him putting that old time trickle down religion out of business, and feel like between their memes, his big mouth, and wikileaks muck raking that it was their little rebel alliance that made the difference.

    He said he can’t be bought, but he’s gotta go one way or the other. If he goes traditional republican democrats will get all their voters back by the mid terms

  4. hbaber, that sounds good to me. It often seems to me that political divisiveness functions to obscure what used to be treated as more stable and meaningful commonalities. I think that’s where one-to-one interpersonal and familial relations can do a lot. Even such that differences can be sources of affection or shared humor. I don’t know what others’ felt experience is like, but it does seem to me that recent years’ style of political rhetoric has done much to unsettle formerly reliable commonalities in favor of treating political views, cartoonishly, as The Big Identity that swamps much else. That has a diabolical effect to the extent that suppresses dialogue between “unlike” people who in fact may share very much.

  5. ir, I’m going to have to think about that… I think some of the same might apply with respect to things like encouraging people to find their limits, think about what they can/will tolerate. But I’m going to think.

  6. I think, especially for those of us– and I am one– who are going to be/are among this administration’s first targets, it is essential to disambiguate something that I fear is, at worst, conflated in the op, and at best, well, ambiguous and warrants disambiguating. [I’m white, but I fall into several other groups that are already being targeted, and things will get much worse come January]
    1) The question of whether one knows, and perhaps through professional ties is required to, interact with Trump voters.
    2) The question of whether there are persons in group (1) with whom one is in a close relationship–friends, family, etc.
    Many of us– I am one– are in situation (1), but not (2). Your post is for the most part addressed to people in situation (2). But there are also these lines, “Second, if you’re white and have no kin or acquaintances who voted for Trump, I implore you to wonder why. This is not, I think, something to be proud of but is, rather, indicative of how we got here. If progressive white people don’t know white people unlike themselves, we’re abandoning the work of persuasion where it could be most effective. ”
    You assume too much, I think. None of the people I know in category (1) are in category (2) for me, because they are people who actively favor the annihilation of my basic rights–beginning with rights against discrimination in employment, housing, and public service. Such rights on those scores that I now have will, I expect, soon be lost. There’s no excuse for that. When you ask me to speak with “empathy and concern” to these people, you are asking me to treat this as a matter of reasonable disagreement. It’s not.
    If you know people in category (1) who do not advocate such violations of fundamental principles of equality, who are also for you in category (2), then I think your conversational advice might get somewhere. But please do not assume that “we” are in the same position when it comes to why some of “we” don’t have anyone in category 2.

  7. anonymoustargetofnewregime, you’re completely right. I should have clarified that in the op and not been so breezy in tone either. I think, to clarify a bit more, that there is absolutely no case for any duty for those who are at risk to engage in this kind of persuasion. And I likewise think that asking empathy from them – strategic or genuine – is grossly inapt. So, I apologize for not recognizing and saying that at the outset.

  8. I want to say in advance that many of comments are really not directed at this post, but what I have been reading in the aftermath of the election. Nonetheless, I do feel the need to defend why I don’t know any Trump supporters except my boyfriend’s step-mother, and to explain why these strategies would not work at her Thanksgiving table. This is not to say they can’t work at other tables, but it does show that there are larger issues at work that may take institutional changes to get beyond.

    We will actually be spending a few hours with my boyfriend’s step-mother over Thanksgiving. She is a Christian and she doesn’t believe what the media presents. Her concern is not living in an inclusive world, but living in a world dominated by Christian thought. She thinks liberals are against God. She does not live in some small town in rural America. She lives in San Jose, California. She believes these things because this is what she hears at her church. While someone over time might change her mind on such a view, it’s unlikely to happen while certain institutional structures or stances exist.

    There has been much ado about the economy, insularity, racism, and third party voters as the reason for Trumps win. While some of these factors are important, there are other factors, which I think play a far bigger role in his election. Even discussion of inequality in the economy, which is probably one of the best places to start, fails to acknowledge something that Steve Bannon got right. If you want to get a real feel for what might driving people, it’s worth reading some Steve Bannon’s interviews and articles on Breitbart. While I think the site is filled with racist and misogynist underpinnings, it is actually very easy to see why some people would be taken in by these views. Even though Bannon is a pro-capitalist, he hits on some really important aspects of our current economy that were not expressed by Clinton; I am not even sure they were expressed by Bernie. Bannon talks about how capitalism, as it is now, treats people like commodities. He even waves his hand to Marxist terms, while rejecting him. I have never heard anyone outside of academic circles discuss the way in which capitalism makes people feel as if their value is only as a commodity to some company. The way in which the work ethic propounded in our culture often leaves people without dignity. It’s unfortunate because while greater equality in distribution is important, it’s not enough. It doesn’t address how people are treated at their jobs, how they view themselves in light of work and profit, how they feel that the certain changes are destroying communities.

    Excised from religion, separatism, and racism, many of the concerns that Bannon was discussing are the same ones discussed in philosophy papers on the ethics of care, the moral underpinnings of socialist economy, and concerns within the philosophy of technology. These ideas are all but ignored in the mainstream. Yet, they overlap the concerns of many Christian conservatives. Bannon is able to engage his readers by discussing these issues, but then saying this is a problem of capitalism divorced from Christian value. If we cannot get these ideas out into the mainstream, then they will be co-opted by others in ways that suit their needs. I find it shameful that I found a more nuanced, even if false in some areas, presentation of the economy on Breitbart than in most of the mainstream media.

    The next issue, which seems to be simmering at the bottom of the Trump win is xenophobia. Xenophobia was in part meant to be combatted with calls for diversity in education and diversity training. Unfortunately, instead of a robust thoughtful diversity, we ended up with what I will call naïve diversity. There has been a bit of shaming for those that don’t know any Trump supporters. Guess what I don’t know any Trump supporters, outside of my boyfriend’s mom, and I am not ashamed.
    My lack of Trump friends is not that I am an elitist stuck in an academic bubble. (I am only friends with one academic, who is as disgusted with academia as I am at times. I also want to tip my hat to the blogger who wrote about the rejection of Velveeta cheese. I actually find the snobbery among some academics almost intolerable.) The reason that I don’t know anyone that supported Trump is first and foremost because I avoid time with lots of people. While I am not a hermit, I am not social. I don’t like small talk. Given those conditions, it seems that I would not likely spend time with people around which I wasn’t comfortable. Some comfort is built on shared experiences, both past and present, some of built on shared value. I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to spend time with others that are similar to you. This can be done while being open to what counts as similarity, and to not being a separatist. This can be done while valuing difference. While this kind of shaming is not at the heart of naïve diversity, it certainly doesn’t address the more complex issues of whom we spend our time with and whether or not it is a moral imperative that we have a diverse group of friends, whatever diversity means in this context.
    What I mean by naïve diversity is an embrace of diversity without understand its importance and its limits. I asked my class yesterday why diversity might be important; I wanted to know why we should not just try to get everyone to conform to the dominate values in a society. The only answer the students came up with was that you can’t get everyone to conform. This is both trivially true and clearly false. People’s hearts and minds often differ from others; yet, historically societies have managed to convert people to the dominate values of the society. I am not endorsing this. I am just saying if this what people think diversity is about, then we have a problem.
    Diversity at the college level is rarely explained. It has become merely a sharing of one’s feelings as if nothing else need occur. I am not making a strawman out of this. I teach at the university and I value diversity, but my experience with how colleges present and discuss diversity, and the way in which it is understood it is problematic. The students take these ideas and somehow think that this means all values are equal, or that it’s all just someone’s opinion, without even recognizing the contradiction when they think we should respect all other values. In every class I must combat the “that’s just your opinion,” or “who’s to say”, or “other cultures have different views.”
    While some might think that the above is just the immaturity of students, I have seen some faculty act in a similar manner. Last year I was on an ethics committee at my school to discuss how ethics might be presented across the disciplines. When we presented to the other faculty communities, those working on different projects, I was met with similar responses. Our presentation engaged other faculty members in a series of questions about ethics in their discipline. Sadly, almost every member wrote down that their biggest concern, as it related to ethics, was plagiarism. After discussing plagiarism, we showed Robin Thicke’s video “blurred lines” and asked them to discuss the ethics of video. The same people boiling over plagiarism responded to the video by asking whose values can determine if this is good or bad. The comments mirrored the comments of my students when discussing value. It was disheartening that their reaction to the video was naïve relativism, while failing to realize that they never asked these questions when assessing that plagiarism is wrong. I am not equivocating on wrong. These members were not just concerned that it was university policy, they were incensed that their students would plagiarize.
    Diversity training and engagement needs to be far more nuanced. We need to focus on having good reasons for our beliefs; we need to learn how to discuss them. We need to acknowledge that all diversity is not necessarily good; we need to convey the standards under which to make this determination. If we find this too complex, then we will continue to have the same problems.
    If you have spent the time to read Breitbart and listen to Steve Bannon, then you might have come to realize that, if one ignores the comments, some of the racism and misogyny is subtle, or things that most people often don’t associate with racism and misogyny. When these subtle forms are used, most people are not equipped to discuss these views, to recognize them as antithetical to things they value, and even if they did, they are not likely to how to defend their own values. While I have no empirical evidence with which to make this claim, I am guessing most of the people who voted for Clinton would have a difficult time defending their beliefs. Hailing the call for diversity will not resolve anything and likely result in backlash, if we don’t analyze it and listen to what is presented.
    Further, the shaming has to stop. While I cannot put a label myself today, I can give you some idea of where I am at. I am not a capitalist. I am agnostic. I have become more and more suspicious of liberalism (and not just neo-liberalism), which is not say that I am a communitarian. I think a lot of really important ideas are coming out of ethics of care, and I am concerned with the number of ways people can be oppressed. This is in contrast to college where I was an atheist Ayn Rand reading libertarian who listened to Rush Limbaugh and felt she had more in common with Christians than other atheists. I felt very frustrated by diversity on campus, which at the time was a newly required segment. Whether or not my feelings represented reality is not something on which I can comment. However, I remember I felt challenged because I was a conservative. I felt I was told I was bad because I didn’t want to embrace and find joy in all of the multi-culturalism that existed. I remember taking Indian Studies for my diversity requirement (I feel terrible to this day for the way I acted in that class) and feeling, rightly or wrongly, that I was being told that I was to blame for what occurred to the Native Americans and that I was meant to somehow pay for what had occurred. Let me say my stance has totally changed from my 19 year old self, but I often wonder what kinds of interactions, if any, might have helped me in those times. I am sure no one was really saying those things, but it was how I felt. I have spent a lot of time as an educator wondering how I might have dealt with my younger self. At times I think that different kinds of interactions might have been helpful, but there other times where I have to admit there might have been no reaching my former self in certain contexts.
    This brings me to the next problem, the corporate media. I am always surprised with whom I can hold some common ground. Glenn Beck, in a CNN interview, explained that some people thought the media was lying about the things Trump was saying. I don’t think he is just pulling this out of thin air. The step-mom who is hosting Thanksgiving dinner next week said the same thing to my boyfriend when he told her about some of the things that Trump had said. The sad thing is that there isn’t a really good response to this because so much of the media is not transparent, cherry picks what it presents, and provides poor analysis. I don’t have to go to Breitbart or Fox news to find this kind of activity. I can look at the Huffington Post, I can listen to NPR, and I can pick up the New York Times and Washington Post. I am just going to defer to Noam Chomsky on this issue.
    The way in which the economy, science, politics is discussed is problematic. I find that I have to spend hours when I am searching for news to determine if it reliable. Even the sources I trust, I find I need to engage in due diligence in following up on the evidence presented. Few people have the time or even the know how regarding media assessment. Information literacy classes do not teach the strong critical reading and analysis skills that are required to maneuver through the glut of information with which we are presented.
    A lot of what is presented in the main stream is atrocious. It seems almost every day I am ranting about something I read in the supposed liberal media. While many might claim that the corporate media covered Trump too much, or they might complain that it’s biased or skews the news with too much entertainment, few realize that the information presented often lacks appropriate evidence. Economics and science journalists often lack the expertise to report on the issues appropriately. The discussions I see and hear on NPR, MSNBC, and CNN lack real substance and rarely provide arguments. Discussions, even by supposedly intelligent educated people fail to understand the heart of the issue. If we cannot manage a responsible media where we have access to good information, then engaged, thoughtful, respectful conversation with someone who opposes our views will mean little, as the need for evidence is likely to rear its heard. In this day people are asking “whose evidence?” We are in a time where we cannot agree on and trust our information sources.
    The problem with our media brings me to the issue regarding critical thought. While the election was at times presented as the educated vs. the uneducated, I am not overly impressed with the critical thinking skills of the educated. I am not just talking about the new generation. I am talking about people my age (40’s) and older. Very few of the people I know, all college educated, have the ability to analyze information and understand what could constitute appropriate evidence. Most people I meet lack the ability or desire to read and understand complex issues. Even if they show an interest, they stop at a certain point. Every day I feel as if I must spend an hour preparing someone with the concepts I need them to understand before I can even begin to express my position.
    I am not sure critical thought in the general population was ever good, but it’s getting worse with the corporatization of education. This is a topic which deserves a lot more attention than I can give. While education mantra is all the rage with learning styles and student engagement, there is not much discussion on the time and effort it really takes to learn a skill. This time is often in conflict with the priorities of many in the administration which is to graduate students as quickly as possible. Suffice to say that as an adjunct all I feel is pressure to entertain students, to keep my classes filled and to get good evaluations. (I suck at this – which is probably why students drop my classes and I always feel my job is on the line.) The students in my classes, even as junior and seniors, cannot read at the upper division level and are not used to putting in much homework time into anything that is not a math or science class. The writing is so atrocious it is often beyond comprehension. I was told that other philosophy classes do not emphasize reading in the way that I do. If there is a chasm between the college educated and the non-college educated, it is not an intellectual chasm, at least not a real one. Mostly, I know that we are not preparing students to live in a thoughtful democratic society that is tolerant of differences, while still being able to understand when tolerance should end.
    This brings me to my last point. If you are still reading – thank you. I may not explain this well because I want to be brief, but one thing related to the whole Trump election has to do with environmental concerns. We are making a mistake when we continue to reduce a lack of belief in man-made climate change to some people not believing in science. I am not even sure what it means not to believe in science, but the sentiment is that these are uneducated non-scientific people. First this ignores the religious aspect that drives some of the views. If we fail to figure out how to connect with this, then we will fail to connect with the people who think man-made climate change is worthy of concern.
    Further, it ignores the many problems and ways in which science is presented, the mistakes that have been made, the lack of transparency, and its overreach. There is a lot of bad science out there, and we need to be honest about this. I also find it odd that the same people who lament those who deny science in the face of climate change deny science in the face of genetically modified foods. I am not saying they are equal. I am also not saying GMOs are good. I am not saying they are bad. I am just saying there is a bit of a parallel as to the scientific community and these issues. When we lack a firm understanding of how to handle expert opinion, when bad science occurs, when we don’t know how to tell the difference, when we cannot trust our media sources, it seems unfair to just say someone doesn’t believe in science. It’s not enough to say that 99% of the scientists believe that climate change is caused by man-made activity. I can imagine being met with the claim that chemists used to believed in phlogiston at one point.
    There are experts that disagree with climate science. Most people who are concerned with climate change do not know or understand what might be an appropriate stance when experts disagree. I will be the first to admit I am not a climatologist and I would not know how to assess a paper on global warming if my life depended on it. Explaining to students why I believe we should be concerned with man-made climate change is not a simple task. When the difficulty of this task is coupled with the lack of information transparency in our society, and a rightful of distrust of our intuitions, it’s not hard to see why so many people might be climate change deniers.
    I was very frustrated when the media blasted Jill Stein for being an anti-vaxer. Yet, she said exactly what I was thinking a couple years ago when California had the outbreak from people not vaccinating their children. I thought we are lied to so often by our government officials. We know that in some cases pharmaceutical companies have pushed to prescribe medications that we did not need or that were harmful. Let me be clear: I do not think that vaccinations cause autism. Yet, it was very easy for me to see why someone would think it was true. As such, saying over and over again, that most medical experts agree that vaccinations are safe will have little effect.
    Science, by all parties, even many scientists, is not well understood in this society. Too often it is valorized in ways it should not be, other times it is merely shunned as useless. I often cringe at the sorts of articles published in Scientific American, which exist on assumptions, as a philosopher, that I find suspect. Yet, these articles find their way into mainstreaming thinking in ways that are harmful. Even Breitbart took a nod from evolutionary psychology in providing an evolutionary-like argument for why we are not cut out to live in diverse communities and as such should aim for separatism.
    This was much longer than it should have been. Once again, my point in writing this is not diminish anything written about Thanksgiving dinner. In some ways much of what was said in that post was echoed in my own, but on needed on a larger scale. Mostly I wanted to see if we might shift the discussion to the some of the structural matters at play and how to address them.

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