Dealing with ignorance and bigotry

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Meecrob, Jun 23, 2009.

  1. Meecrob macrumors member


    Aug 25, 2006
    New England
    I want to know what experience you have with responding to ignorance and bigotry. My mom, a hardcore conservative, gets all her news from right-wing bloggers and bill o'reilly. As you can guess, a few years of this has provided her with a certifiably nutty perspective on world events. I'll be taking a trip with the family soon, which means that there will be plenty of extreme anti-islam and anti-obama rhetoric combined with inaccurate history coming from her. I can deal if its some random idiot on the internet but this is my own mother. Any advice or personal stories would be a big help.
  2. Shotglass macrumors 65816


    Feb 4, 2006
    Can't give you any advice, but I'll take any advice that people give you. My mom's exactly the same.
  3. JNB macrumors 604


    Oct 7, 2004
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    People with limited--and even possibly extreme or highly flawed--world views are generally unlikely to accept any other, and resist them vehemently. Regardless of where they're coming from, Left or Right, you cannot just point out facts. They will deny them, convince themselves that the other POV is propaganda, lies, and the like.

    It's an easy trap for someone to fall in to, and the stronger the denial, sometimes the greater likelihood that they know they're wrong (or at least not seeing the bigger picture). It's a defensive posture to avoid admitting they have been mislead. Also, they also will gravitate towards sources that reinforce the way they want things to be, not necessarily how they are.

    As it's your mother, I'd approach her as a loving son, and not as an opponent. If there are specific instances or claims she repeats, get a full view of that to start opening her eyes. Something like, "That's true, Mom, but did you also know that…" The point being that you're not challenging her, but adding to her knowledge.

    Also, keep an open enough mind yourself to recognize that while she may not be right, she also may not be entirely wrong. Examine your own sources and understanding for bias. In this day & age, we've polarized our viewpoints to be useless in having any real understanding, much less rational discussions.

    The goal is not to convince; it's not a contest. People have the fundamental right to believe what they want to, and to hold a point of view that suits them. Proselytizing the opposing view will never win anyone over, but just lead to more intransigence on their part.
  4. Gonzo3333 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2009
    Chicago, IL
    I would say to ignore it but it is your family. That seems like it would be almost impossible to ignore. Do your best to not let it get to you would be my suggestion. Try to change the subject if it gets out of hand.

    Best of luck.
  5. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    I'll accept anti-Islam speech as bigoted. I can't say the same for anti-Obama speech.

    I don't know you and I don't know your mom, but my guess is that someone older than you is going to know more about history than you simply because she's lived more of it. Her opinions of it may be different from yours, but you should recognize that her memories of things mean as much or more as what you read in a textbook.

    Not all conservatives are bigots, and some liberals are. Place the blame where it lies.

    My stepfather is a fairly liberal Democrat, but is singularly the most bigoted and hateful person I've ever met when it comes to people of any persuasion different from his own (ethnic, religious, sexual preference, race, etc.). I'm a moderate to conservative Republican and I do not share his views at all. I avoid him for this and many other reasons.

    Just because someone's views are different from your own doesn't mean that they're "certifiably nutty."
  6. AdamLikesMusic macrumors 6502

    Jun 3, 2009
    I just avoid the topics with certain family members.

    You both have your own opinions, and you're not going to convince eachother to accept the other side, so it seems like it's best to just brush the comments off, or avoid them altogether.
  7. jav6454 macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2007
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    This by far, the best advice anyone can give in respect to this subject.
  8. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    Any answers we give are ignorant as to how your family operates. Give us a little more about how people get along and what interaction is like and we will be able to give better suggestions.

    For instance:

    Does your family enjoy debate and therefore it's quite common for "controversial" topics to be discussed without it affecting relationships?


    If a political discussion breaks out do people get angry with each other and act like morons?

    Families operate in different ways, some parents really don't care what their adult children believe, but others are highly sensitive to it and get upset depending on the views and attitudes their children adopt. Only you know how your family interacts and how to best make the most out of the trip. I'm going to assume that your goal is to enjoy a family vacation together. Thus, don't jeopardize that in any way.
  9. ecstasy macrumors 6502


    Jun 9, 2009
    I, too, avoid the topics, but sometimes, that ignorance and stubbornness to listen to the opposite side really gets me riled up like no other.

    It's the way of the world. Some people just don't change.
  10. Shivetya macrumors 65816

    Jan 16, 2008
    I look at it this way, people who have been around a long time are rarely swayed. I have problems with people who can be described as being hardcore conservative and those who are definitely hardcore liberal.

    It doesn't seem to matter, I know some moderates who have their subjects that they are definitely not-pc with.

    I just avoid the discussions or work out their reasons to understand why they hold the view. I do not automatically assume a view as bigoted just because it doesn't agree with mine or current trends. Remember, views held as perfectly reasonable one generation can be held as ignorant/bigoted by the next.

    I tend to date black women (I am a white male in the South) and it comes from both sides. You just write them off and ignore them if possible. I find most bigots in public are chickens anyway, or not worth the time. Family is another matter but honestly I have lots of family and ignoring a few ain't going to hurt me.
  11. ecstasy macrumors 6502


    Jun 9, 2009
    I love you even more now.


    (yeah, this reply needed 3 smilies. And what?)
  12. chrmjenkins macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2007
    Politely ask that she not discuss the topics with you around. Say it bothers you and that you'd prefer to avoid that and be more light-hearted and focus on being a family.
  13. opinioncircle macrumors 6502a


    May 17, 2009
    I love to hear what people have to say on issues. My dad always takes the counter point just to make me go crazy (which is not very sane I know :D). However, I agree that some people have very opinionated views. It may be because of life experiences. That's why I don't blame them.
    I think we are all entitled to our opinions and that for some reason, we might have flexibility on certain issues and none at all on others.
    We are all pretty much the same on that one.
  14. Iscariot macrumors 68030


    Aug 16, 2007
    My friend and I ended up having a 2-hour long conversation with an anti-evolution anti-homosexual Muslim at around the start of summer at a local University. We were very amiable and very fact-driven, and tried explaining things with a number of different perspectives. While I doubt we "changed" his mind, the friendly nature of our words coupled with the weight of our arguments certainly lit a spark and he became at the very least receptive to the idea that our words had merit.

    Since then I've seen him at the gym and have spotted him for some exercises, so despite disagreeing we clearly made some inroads and have at least established a rapport and some understanding.

    I think what helped is that none of it was politically charged. By leaving out a political or strong ideological bent, we were more easily able to discuss each issue on it's own weight.
  15. MTI macrumors 65816

    Feb 17, 2009
    Scottsdale, AZ
    i don't recall what travel magazine it appeared in, perhaps Conde Nast Traveller, but there was an article earlier this year about the cultural differences between American and European tourists.

    One of the key differences is that Americans tend to avoid discussions about controversial topics such as race, religion and politics at social gatherings, while our cousins on the Continent enjoy a good give and take more frequently.

    The difference that made me laugh is the American penchant for constantly asking "How are you?" as their opening greeting.
  16. synth3tik macrumors 68040


    Oct 11, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    Luckily my mother and I share many of the same viewpoints. I do have some friends who have different viewpoints, but they are educated and don't get their information from blogs.

    My father unfortunately does not share the same viewpoints as me. Although I can't say that he is misinformed, it gets hard sometimes. Luckily we know family comes before politics.

    I guess my advice would be to try and change the topic of conversations. Usually politics and world affairs are rather dark subject matter, and I have found that people for the most part are happy to switch up conversation.

    You are going on a trip with family, this is supposed to be a time for you to get away from all the day to days, which includes politics, blogs and the like.

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