Counter Hate and Malevolence - Part 2

Heidi Burgess
Guy M. Burgess

September, 2018

You can download this video from Vimeo for offline viewing.


This is the second video focusing on ways to counter hate and malevolence. While the first one focused on the importance of avoiding hateful actions of your own, this one focuses on how to respond if hate or malevolence is directed at you.

References Resources:

Slide 2:

Slides 4-6 NPR. Dwane Brown. :How One Man Convinced 2000 Ku Klux Klan Members To Give Up Their Robes.  August 20, 2017. .  Heard on All Things Considered.

Slide 9: From Part 4 [of Business-as-Usual Unit] : Power and the Power Strategy Mix.

Slide 10:  By By Grace Amiss, Katie Carter, Griffin Conboy, Richard Edgemon, Corinne Hildebrandt, Alexa Hines, Brittany Kasko, Carolina Olivares, Mariana Rivas, and Michael Rogers.  Sept 24, 2018.  Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Slide 11:  Taken from YouTube:

Slide 14: Frog in pot: Source:  Attribution:  by J. Ronald Lee.  CC2.0. 

Full Transcript:

Slide 1. Hi. This is Heidi Burgess. Here I want to continue my discussion about hate and malevolence and how to counter it.

Slide 2. In the first video, I was primarily talking about how to not escalate conflicts by engaging in hateful actions yourself. Here I want to talk about what to do when others attack you, or people or things you care about.

The first thing to do, of course, is to protect yourself. Try to get away from dangerous situations and hateful people. Try to stay away from such situations before you get in them. But if they occur, act to protect yourself, and then, to the extent possible, protect others.

This picture is a flyer of, that was made by an organization called Not in Our Town, which helps people stand up to hate crimes in their communities. And this flyer is available on their website for downloading for use in any school situation that is witnessing hate or bullying.

One thing that struck me in this brochure is the statement that one out of five students in public schools reports being bullied. And 70% of students have witnessed bullying at schools. So, it goes on a lot.

Yet if someone intervenes, the bullying stops within 10 seconds according to a UCLA study! So intervention can have very rapid and beneficial effect.

Slide 3. Another thing that you want to avoid doing is not to directly engage or lash back in kind. The left picture is taken in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the riot between the White Supremacists and the anti-hate marchers, many of whom were "Antifa," and the situation became violent.

The alternative that usually works better is to hold a counter or alternative or parallel demonstration. One that I remember fondly happened in Boulder, Colorado, a very liberal town, where the KKK came to march. Rather than confronting them directly, we hosted a community fair a couple miles away, with lots of demonstratiosn of inclusion and love. This picture, I have to admit, was taken from somewhere else, but it looks somewhat like the scene in Boulder. There was music. There was dancing. There were crafts. It was a very attractive place to be and got lots and lots of people to come. Whereas the KKK downtown got practically nobody. And they quickly packed up and left because their goal was to arouse a crowd and they totally failed.

Slide 4. Another interesting way to deal with hate groups and hate crimes is to reach out and surprise the instigators with disarming gestures, which I talked about a couple of videos ago.

This is a story published in 2017, shortly after Charlottesville, about how one man, Daryl Davis, convinced 200 KKK members to give up their robes. The story starts by saying, "Daryl Davis is a blue musician, but he also has what some might call an interesting hobby. For the past 30 years, Davis, a Black man, has spent time befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan."

Slide 5. The article explains that Davis first learned about the Klan by studying them and studying their beliefs and studying their actions. And he's quoted as saying, "When they see that you know about their organization, their belief system, they respect you. Whether they like you or not, they respect the fact that you've done your homework."

Slide 6. He goes on to say, "That began to chip away at their ideology, because when two enemies are talking, they're not fighting. It's when the talking ceases that the ground becomes fertile for violence. If you spend five minutes with your worst enemy, it doesn't have to be about race, it could be about anything. You will find that you both have something in common. As you build up on those commonalities, you're forming a relationship, and as you build that relationship, you're forming a friendship. That's what would happen. I didn't convert anybody. They saw the light and they converted themselves."

This quote reminded me of John Paul Lederach's frequent statement that conflict resolution is all about building relationships. In his book The Moral Imagination, he calls on people to imagine themselves being in a relationship with the other. And he focuses on building relationships as being the most transformative thing you can do. Meeting hate with hate does not build relationships. Reaching out, listening, being respectful does.

Slide 7. Another thing that does is utilizing the psychological tendency to reject what's called "cognitive dissonance." This is the cognitive discomfort that we get when we have two beliefs that are incongruent with each other. Cognitive dissonance can be used to make people feel uncomfortable with their disparate beliefs and actions, and therefore encouraging them to change one or the other.

This is what Martin Luther King did so masterfully in his "I Have a Dream" speech and other speeches. In that he said, "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

Well it was clear that you couldn't believe that and discriminate against Black men. So the security that Whites felt with their discrimination began to erode.

Reading the Bible does the same thing. The Bible says that "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." How can you love thy neighbor as thyself if you hate your neighbor because your neighbor's Black? Or your neighbor's gay? Or your neighbor's a man? But you believe in the Bible. So you have to start questioning your beliefs of hate.

Slide 8. Research has shown that utilizing such normative pressure is more effective to bring about change than legal pressure. This, I think, is why abortion still remains extremely controversial, while gay marriage and gay rights is less so. That's because gay marriage and gay rights was fought, at least partially, on a normative moral ground. Abortion, on the other hand, has been fought primarily through the courts and on a legal ground.

I was trying to find a picture to put on this slide and the one that I came up with was a picture of Everett Dirksen, who was a Republican, who was the key person who brought cloture to the Senate, which meant that they were able to close off the filibuster and pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Here was a Republican, a respected White Republican, who was advocating the support of Civil Rights for Blacks. That was much more successful than Blacks advocating by themselves. If the conveyor of moral pressure is seen to be someone who is similar to you, someone who is respected by you, you're much more likely to change. That means it's important to pay attention to who you are dealing with.

Slide 9. This is a chart that I got from a slideshow that we showed long ago on power strategies and what we call the "power strategy mix." I think I'll probably repost that slideshow after this one because it's important here, but let me just focus on just the top part of this diagram that shows that there are four types of people: Ones that we call "persuadables," the "reluctant persuadables," "traders" and "incorrigibles."

The sizes of the columns relate to how many people there are in each of these categories. The incorrigible people are the ones whose mind you are never going to change. These are the people who are dug in and they hate and there is no way you're going to change their mind, no matter what. They need to be approached using coercion.

But coercion tends to backfire and hate tends to backfire on everybody else. There are much more effective power strategies, such as exchange and collaborative power that can work much better. And conciliatory gestures can work much better on most people because most people aren't incorrigible. So, it's important to distinguish what kind of person you're dealing with when you decided how to deal with their hate.

Slide 10. Now the one kind of person and organization that we are now becoming wary of, that we need to be very wary of, is what Guy calls "divide and conquer tyrant wannabes," or hatemongers. This is what we now know Russia has been doing to try to disable American democracy. They took the hatred that we already had and made it deeper. Heather Conley at the Center for Strategic and International Studies points out that Russia is just amplifying the weaknesses we give them. It's not that we didn't have differences-or that we didn't have a deep divide or hatred between Democrats and Republicans before 2016. But Russia has been very effective in pouring gasoline on the fire.

Slide 11. So too has Donald Trump. This is a very intentional strategy that he's been using. When he stated that Mexicans were killers and rapists, he was trying to drive the escalation spiral. His statements about Muslims being terrorists and his immigration ban are designed to drive the escalation spiral. He thrives on hate and fear because building those up energizes his base and strengthens his support.

Slide 12. The way to reverse this is with listening, with respect, and with empathy. You can hate hateful actions.

Slide 13. You should condemn hateful actions. But I think we should not condemn the people who carry them out. We should give, whenever possible, a face-saving way out and give people a good reason to change. Some will. Hopefully many will.

Slide 14. But people won't change if the good folk just keep calling them names, telling them that they're hateful and stupid. That just digs them in deeper and it's a recipe for more of the same.

Hate can't be fought with hate. It needs to be fought with listening, learning, respect, and collaboration. Thanks.

Photo Credits:

Slide 3: Left: Charlotteville:  by Karla Cote. (CC BY-ND 2.0). Love signs.  From counter kkk protest in Athen Alabama, 2007.  By Gregory.Skibinski. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Slide 7:,_D.C._(Dr._Martin_Luther_King,_Jr._and_Mathew_Ahmann_in_a_crowd.)_-_NARA_-_542015_-_Restoration.jpg.  CC0

Slide 8: