Many Trump supporters who spent their entire lives never questioning their societal privilege are finally learning what it’s like to be an unpopular minority, and many are not handling it very well. Back last June, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant because of her role in the Trump Administration. She left gracefully, but then complained about the restaurant not treating her nicely. In January, following a confrontation between teens from a private boy’s high school and a Native American elder, one of the teens who was seen in viral videos wearing a MAGA hat is suing CNN for misrepresentation saying that he was falsely accused of escalating the situation when he was actually trying to “defuse” it. Earlier this month, a man in Arizona reported that the tire on his SUV was slashed because he had a MAGA hat in the window. Another Trump supporter was kicked out of a New York City restaurant for wearing a MAGA hat. It’s apparently gotten so bad for some of these people that there’s now an app where Trump supporters can find “safe spaces” free from liberals and where they can also bring their guns.
It’s really a misnomer to call these Trump supporters a “minority” since they have societal privilege and since their guy is in power in the White House, but that hasn’t stopped them from claiming “victimhood” and outrage for being treated the way real minorities are treated every day. There was a time when African Americans and other People of Color weren’t allowed in “white” restaurants, to go to “white” parks, or sit in “white” sections at the front of public transportation. And in recent years many conservatives have rallied around the “right” of cake shops and other businesses to deny service to LGBT individuals. There was a time when LGBT individuals had their names posted in newspapers after police raids on gay bars thus destroying their reputations, careers, and lives. A certain “faux” news network still makes its fame and fortune by misrepresenting marginalized communities – Muslims, People of Color, LGBT folks, immigrants, and so on. In college, my car was keyed because I was active and vocal in my campus LGBT group, and many others have had their cars or homes vandalized for being LGBT. LGBT teens have deservedly sought out safe spaces because of unaccepting parents and bullying peers.
If these aren’t enough to make the MAGA complaints at least seem like karma or poetic justice, other things that minorities deal with make these complaints seem just trivial. Just last week there was the mass shooting at a Mosque in New Zealand. In 2016, there was a mass shooting at the gay Latino Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. In 2015, there was a mass shooting at a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina. I really haven’t heard about any mass shootings at MAGA events or in conservative venues. In addition to these mass shootings, many minorities live in real fear of being targeted for being who they are. In 2017, there were at least 29 Transgender deaths due to violence against them. That number doesn’t include how many who suffered violent attacks and lived. Trans People of Color are especially prone to be victims of violence and hate crimes. Matthew Shepherd is just one of many gay folks attacked and even killed for being open about who they are. And, of course, suicide among LGBT teens is much higher than suicide among the general population.
Many minorities live in fear of violence, harassment, being denied service, being fired from their jobs, or being challenged for who they are or what they believe. Fear is often used as a tool to keep minorities in their place. Being in a place of fear is not something that most MAGA supporters are used to. While I believe there is some karma involved, and while I’m a big fan of poetic justice, I really don’t think we liberals should be slashing MAGA folks’ tires or escalating violence against them. For one thing, a crime is still a crime no matter who commits it, and for another, we really don’t need to be fueling the fires of their “victimhood” and indignation. One thing I’ve learned both through my college activism and because my Dad was a cop, is that you don’t really want to be the one to throw the first punch in an argument. The moment you throw the first punch, you become the attacker and you’re legally liable as such. It doesn’t really matter how much the other party provoked the attack or whether they started the argument. When we throw the first punch, it also just looks bad on us. As liberals, we promote diversity and non-violence, and we really need to walk the talk. At the same time, if you are attacked, I definitely support your right to fight back and defend yourself. Just don’t throw the first punch. Also be aware, that many professional conservative trolls are trained to provoke you to the point of violence, so they can make an incident of it – whether a legal incident, a viral social media incident, or a news media incident. Don’t fall into the trap.
I don’t support violence against MAGA supporters (unless it’s self-defense). And while I find their views distasteful, I do support their right to wear their red hats, sport conservative bumper stickers on their cars, and share their views on Facebook and their personal blogs. I think denying prominent Trump supporters service at restaurants and other businesses is more of a grey area. I definitely support calling out conservative politicians and those in the Trump White House for their views and complacency. It is their job to listen to citizens, even if they would rather hide or insulate themselves from those who disagree with them. What I also support is civil discourse and calling out individuals on their negative and harmful ideologies. You might be able to change the minds of at least some middle leaning folks. While you may not be able to change the hearts or minds of extremists, if they’re called out enough, perhaps they’ll at least think twice about being so vocal about their unpopular views.