What is the most effective way to “oppose hate”? What should we do when someone makes a comment that we experience as racist, sexist, homophobic or ethnocentric? Do we ignore it in order to get along? Do we confront the person? If so, how?
When we ignore remarks we experience as bigoted, we enable them. However, while confronting our opponents might make us feel good, it is rarely effective. Direct confrontations tend to provoke feelings of shame, defensiveness and anger. When this happens, opposing parties become invested in defending themselves and protecting their self-image.
We can’t oppose hate by “opposing hate”. Hate is not something that can be shamed away. In fact, attempts to shame away hate simply tend to foment more hate.
We often hear that “love trumps hate”. There is much truth in this maxim. However, this doesn’t mean simply loving lovable people. It means acting out of love for people who espouse beliefs we hate.