Friday, February 14, 2020

Karlyn in Trumpland

If perchance you want to escape from America’s political madness, you might take up a hobby, like knitting. What could be further from Trump derangement syndrome from the placid grandmotherly world of knitting. 

That’s what knitter Karlyn Borysenko thought. She was wrong. Apparently, she could not escape the culture wars, even within the Instagram knitting community.

She explained it in a Medium article (via Maggie’s Farm):

I knit as a way to relax and escape the drama of real life, not to further engage with it, but for anyone who is active in the knitting world on Instagram, it became almost impossible to avoid it. It started about a year ago when roving gangs of online social justice warriors started going after anyone who was not lockstep in their ideology. People were bullied and mobbed by hundreds of people for such offenses as publishing an article expressing excitement about going on a trip to India, posting a video saying they were leaving IG because they were uncomfortable, and posting a poem asking for kindness. Katherine Jepsen Moore has documented the full stories extensively and the BBC recently covered it as well.

How bad did it get? Very bad, indeed.

I started paying attention after one man who was attacked got mobbed so badly that he had a nervous breakdown and was admitted to the hospital on suicide watch. There was something that was not right (well, so many things really) and it witnessing the vitriol coming from those who I had aligned myself with politically was a massive wake up call.

Lest you be confused, Borysenko is a denizen of the political left. She lives in New Hampshire and voted for Pete Buttigieg in the most recent primary. And she naturally accepted as dogmatic truth that Trump supporters were racist, sexist, Nazi white supremacists.

She explains:

You see, I was one of those Democrats who considered anyone who voted for Trump a racist. I thought they were horrible (yes, even deplorable) and had worked very hard to eliminate their voices from my spaces by unfriending or blocking people who spoke about their support of him, however minor their comments. I watched a lot of MSNBC, was convinced that everything he had done was horrible, that he hated anyone that wasn’t a straight, white man, and that he had no redeeming qualities.

But then, the Instagram knitting world became infested by venomous hatred directed at Trump. It was not mere prejudice. It was certainly not about policy disagreements.  It seemed animated by a will to destroy, the man, his family, his followers, everyone who did not toe the anti-Trump party line:

But when I witnessed the amount of hate coming from the left in this small, niche knitting community, I started to question everything. I started making a proactive effort to break my echo chamber by listening to voices I thought I would disagree with. I wanted to understand their perspective, believing it would confirm that they were filled with hate for anyone that wasn’t like them.

Apparently, she had not read about the social psychological experiments where researchers had proved that facts do not change minds. (See yesterday’s post.) So she decided that, rather than prejudge Trump’s supporters, she would get out and meet a few of them. 

It was enlightening, to say the least:

The more voices outside of the left I listened to, the more I realized that these were not bad people. They were not racists, nazis, or white supremacists. We had differences of opinions on social and economic issues, but a difference of opinion does not make your opponent inherently evil. And they could justify their opinions using arguments, rather than the shouting and ranting I had seen coming from my side of the aisle.

And she arrived at this question:

And the biggest question of all was this: Did I hate Trump so much that I wanted to see my country fail just to spite him and everyone who voted for him?

Being a New Hampshire native she decided to risk life and limb, by attending Trump’s Monday rally. There, she met many Trump supporters. To her shock, she discovered that they were “nice:”

So I headed over an hour and a half before the doors were scheduled to open (which was 4 hours before Trump was set to take the stage) and the line already stretched a mile away from the entrance to the arena. As I waited, I chatted with the folks around me. And contrary to all the fears expressed, they were so nice! I was not harassed or intimidated and was never in fear of my safety even for a moment. These were average everyday people. They were veterans, school teachers, and small business owners and they had come from all over the place for the thrill of attending this rally. They were upbeat and excited. In chatting, I even let it slip that I was a democrat and the reaction was “Good for you! Welcome!”

They were welcoming, courteous and respectful. They were not attending a fascist hate fest. They were attending a party. They greeted her and everyone else as fellow members of the community. Good will toward everyone, whoever heard of such a thing:

Once we got inside, the atmosphere was jubilant! It was more like attending a rock concert than a political rally. People were genuinely enjoying themselves. Some were even dancing to music being played over the loudspeakers! It was so different than any other political event I had ever attended. Even Obama in 2008 didn’t feel like this.

The harmonious atmosphere was striking, a point worth noting as we read over and over again how Trump is trafficking in hatred. Borysenko discovered that Trump was really playing it for the comedy:

With Trump, every single person was unified around a singular goal. With the Democrats, the audience booed over candidates they didn’t like and got in literal shouting matches with each other. With Trump, there was a genuinely optimistic view of the future. With the Democrats, it was doom and gloom. With Trump, there was a genuine feeling of pride of being an American. With the Democrats, they emphasized that the country was a racist place from top to bottom.

Worse yet, for those who cling to their prejudice, Trump supporters at the rally were remarkably open minded. They did not care that she was a Democrat. Besides, however much they admired Trump, they were quick to criticize those character traits that they did not like:

But the strength of this rally wasn’t about the facts and figures. It was a group of people who felt like they had someone in their corner, that would fight for them. Some people say “well obviously they’re having a great time. They’re in a cult.” I don’t think that’s true. The reality is that many people I spoke to do disagree with Trump on things. They don’t always like his attitude. They wish he wouldn’t tweet so much. People who are in cults don’t question their leaders. The people I spoke with did, but the pros in their eyes far outweighed the cons. They don’t love him because they think he’s perfect. They love him despite his flaws because they believe he has their back.

Now, she has changed her registration from Democratic to Independent… the better to escape the toxic environment that has infested the Democratic Party. And she boldly predicts that Trump will win in November:

I think the Democrats have an ass-kicking coming to them in November, and I think most of them will be utterly shocked when it happens because they’re existing in an echo chamber that is not reflective of the broader reality. I hope it’s a wake-up call and causes them to take a long look in the mirror and really ask themselves how they got here. Maybe then they’ll start listening. I tend to doubt it, but I can hope.

It’s the word of one woman, but it shows how someone can do some on-the-ground research, amass the facts, evaluate them and change her mind.


Sam L. said...

Normal people DO "nice". Am I saying Democrats are not normal? Some are; some aren't.

Anonymous said...

I read the original article...she got negative comments from leftists about how awful she is, blah blah blah. Another commentor pointed out that they were making her point!

UbuMaccabee said...

She has written a better article, with more plain truth, than you would get from 99% of our professional journalists. 75% of them could not even arrive at the self-evident truth she did because it doesn’t align with their facts.