Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Suggested Response by Memphis to the KKK Rally

(I posted this to my Facebook account. I'm also posting it here for those who don't use FB. Please feel free to pass this around; just credit me, OK?)

I posted this yesterday. Please fee free to share it. Memphis needs to hear this:

To the people planning counter-protests against that KKK rally in Memphis this summer, a word of advice: don't. You are treating them as they want to be treated. They think theirs is a serious demonstration of the community's anger with the renaming of Memphis parks. Don't give the KKK the honor of treating them like worthy opponents. They aren't.

By holding a counter-protest, you are only feeding into their anger, creating a feedback cycle and ratcheting up the possibility for someone sparking violence. That's what the KKK wants that day. They can be counted on to take advantage of any opportunity they're given. Violence ensures they'll get media time, and the "rules of broadcast" ensure the media will have to give them time to express some part of their ideas. It will also inevitably portray the KKK and their oppoenents as equals in the debate. Don't give that victory to them. That's just what the KKK wants.

Don't fall for that. Treat them as they should be treated: as a sideshow. Call a party for that day, at their protest site or across the street. Let the people of Memphis come out and have a good time, with food and music. Hand out messages of love and tolerance; short embracing ones, not slogans nor screeds. Show the media that we can all, sometimes, get along, at least for a while and for a good reason. Let the KKK's anger be swamped by the merriness of Memphis showing who we are. That this city is better--has more to offer--than the KKK's hate and xenophobia.

At the same time, don't treat the KKK condescendingly. Don't give them a demeaning "pat on the head" or a sneer for a failed effort. Don't TELL them they're irrelevant, SHOW them. Don't give them an argument they can respond to. Give them a good time that demands they respond in kind. Remember, hate begets hate but genuine kindness in response to hate can only be responded to with more kindness.

Communities that have been afflicted with pernicious Westboro Baptist Church protests have had success with variants of this approach. I suspect the KKK is going to adopt the Westboro approach. Don't fall for it. Don't give them what they want.

Show them who we are.