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I’ve never been called a racist. If I were, I admit that it would be upsetting. But @gossamercat brought up the fact on @richardfulmer’s post that many of us feel obligated to defend ourselves when we are attacked; it’s only natural to protect ourselves and our reputations.
But what if we didn’t “bite”? What if we responded by not responding or making an off-handed acknowledgement? I think it would drive others crazy. Even on Twitter. Let me give you a couple of examples:
You’re a racist.
Really? So, let’s discuss your other point further. . .
You’re admitting you’re a racist!
Nope. Now you were trying to explain. . .
You were born a racist!
You’ll have to explain that to my mother. As I was saying.
But my favorite response—
You’re a racist!
[a soft smile, tip of the head sympathetically] So where did you say you went to school?
* * * * *
It’s important to remember that people will insult you for all kinds of reasons. In rare cases, they will believe what they say; since you know they don’t know what they’re talking about or don’t even know you, they really don’t deserve a response.
If they call you a racist, the most powerful response: none. I’m not on Twitter or Facebook, but a non-response would drive them crazy. Even better, you could respond by simply typing the word: Sigh. Over and over again.
Suddenly they will go bonkers, feeling angry and powerless that they haven’t baited you. It doesn’t matter how you feel (because you will probably be upset), but the best way for us to fight back is to give no credence to what they are saying. They are boors and childish manipulators. They get their power by trying to make you feel inferior. If you don’t respond defensively, they will eventually run out of steam.
You’re just no fun.
So the next time you are called a racist, you know what not to do.
* * * * *
You might have noticed that my responses are not kind or cordial. They are not meant to be. When a person attacks you, they have not earned your respect. They haven’t even earned your acting respectful. At the same time, if you respond in kind, you will have lost respect for yourself (or at least I would for myself). We have to assume that for the near future (at least up to elections), people will be nasty, punitive, hateful, and inappropriate, and we are unlikely to change their perspectives.
I know that this response may be difficult to carry out. Try it anyway. What have you got to lose?
[This will work for other insults sent your way, too.]Published in