By Thomas DiGennaro | United States
Daryl Davis, a black musician and one of the biggest sweethearts I’ve ever met, has made quite a hobby over the past few decades; he has repeatedly met with members of the Ku Klux Klan, National Socialist Movement, and other hate groups. He is the first black author to ever write a book on the Ku Klux Klan and has recently aired a documentary, Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race, & America.
Daryl Davis: A Mission
Daryl’s desire to meet with people who belong to these organizations stems from a staggering question he has asked himself since his first experience with racism as a child; “How can you hate me if you don’t even know me?”. Inspired by a sheer curiosity of how this was even possible, Daryl studied just about everything there is to know about the KKK and other groups. However, he could not answer his question.
Eventually, Daryl encountered a Klansman at a bar he was performing at. The man approached him and invited him to talk and have a drink in a courteous, polite manner. Daryl, as a result, decided to schedule a meeting with the leader of the KKK in Maryland, his home state.
Since then, Daryl has collected dozens of robes from former Klan members who have befriended him. He also has spoken at universities and groups all over the country about his actions. Daryl’s underlying philosophy is simple: “If you have an adversary, someone with an opposing point of view, regardless of how extreme it may be… give that person a platform. Allow them to air their views, and when you do things like that, there is an excellent chance that people will reciprocate”.
The inability to have the conversation, the fear of having an argument, of sharing opinions has become an underlying root of a variety of hate, violence, and alienation in politics today. Ignorance breeds fear; fear breeds hate; hate breeds violence. Simply put, sit down and talk with someone to try to understand their position and intentions. Otherwise, it’s easy to make inaccurate assumptions about people or groups.
A glaring example of this today is the belief that all liberals want to take away everyone’s guns. Though most support some gun control, this in itself is a generalization. On the other side, the ideas that gun owners are violent and nothing good comes from guns are also generalized.
We also see the belief that all cops are racist and hate black people because of incidents that end in shooting or violence at the hand of a cop, as well as the belief that every black male in a hoodie is a gang member and perp because of high crime rates in black ghettos. I could fill 30 pages with these, immigration, Kavaughn and #metoo, marijuana laws, voting laws, health care, student loans, the ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’, and so many more.
This is a pressing issue in society today. Polarization and refusal to talk leads to isolation of the opposing viewpoint and the conversation dies out. Worse yet, we’re sometimes too afraid to have the conversation out of fear of offending anyone or changing their opinions of you. The day that people are afraid to express an opinion because of what others may think is the day we start the slippery slope towards groupthink.
Have the Conversation
Clearly, there’s no denying the ignorance between the conservative and liberal ideologies. There also is general public ignorance of libertarianism and capitalism. So many people have these egregious misunderstandings of libertarian forms of government (or lack thereof) such as minarchism, paleo-libertarianism, and anarcho-capitalism. Like anything else, people make the most ludicrous assumptions, and the idea loses credit without conversation.
Whether about race, politics, religion, or anything else, have the conversation. Give the other person a chance to voice their opinions, and instead of waiting for your turn to talk, listen. Absorb what they have to say, inquire about it, and try to emphasize their opinion. You do not have to agree with everybody, and some positions certainly do not deserve respect. However, the fact that they are a person with an opinion deserves respect, regardless of what the opinion is. If a black man can sit down with Nazis and Klansmen, then we can listen to our boomer Trump conservative uncle or millennial hippie Bernie-loving socialist sister. You will be a better person and have a more cohesive understanding of the subject. There is no better test of your beliefs than to have them challenged.
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