I got this quote from a friend who had received a dispatch from someone who attended a Trump rally last week. Apparently his “correspondent,” rattled by the utter futility of his attempts to reach out to the vociferously hostile Trump supporters he met that day, thought it explained everything.
At first, I recoiled. It’s a harsh assessment. And I am especially wary of characterizing the folks who voted for Trump as “stupid.” Name calling on both sides has gotten us nowhere — in fact, it continues to back us into our respective corners with our dukes up and minds shut.
But if you can get past that, it does speak to that gnawing feeling of helplessness many of us feel. And you have to admit, the tactics described do sound familiar.
Falls short of a solution, of course. But it may be cathartic for some. Read on:
“Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed — in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical — and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison