Part 2: Discord in the community – better strategies needed?
By Tim J. Clark
Updated Oct 4, 2019
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” –– Declaration of Independence
Preface. This post introduces a method that can be adapted as needed, to address some of the issues associated with the controversies surrounding the Bloomington Farmers’ Market.
One page summary Bloomington Farmers’ Market – Summary of Issues
The United States system of government was designed to be continually improved with the local government being the catalyst for needed change. Working together to make progress towards “a more perfect Union” and community can be supported through applying a better method for problem identification, resolution and decision-making.
Regarding political systems, from a global perspective, adversaries have always worked to undermine each other’s systems. Digital technology including social media enables the communication of challenges worldwide to include coverage of a community’s successes or failures in addressing the opportunities that the challenges present.
Application of better problem identification, resolution and decision-making processes can lead to stronger and more resilient communities. This, in turn, provides positive examples that are needed to reinforce that self-government is still a principle worth fighting for and application of better methods can lead to “a more perfection Union.”
Two Key Issues
The controversies with the markets in Nashville and Bloomington revolve around two issues: (1) A person’s right to express beliefs that are protected by the First Amendment, and (2) being associated with a group (s) that others find offensive. In this case, this includes allegations that an association with AIM is synonymous with promoting white supremacy and/or white nationalism and hate.
On the first issue, this was summarized in the post (Part 1) ” Discord in the community – better strategies needed?” Background information and a timeline of the issues is provided in the post: “Wanted: Tolerance, Understanding, Collaboration, Progress.”
Individuals and private entities can exercise their right to free speech that includes protests and boycotts. The protestors also accept the risk that they, in turn, can attract protests and boycotts for their beliefs and actions. An action (boycotts), leads to a reaction (the boycotters can become the boycotted), and counteractions (community taking sides) leads to an escalation of the conflict.
The remainder of this post deals with “group” association – specifically the American Identify Movement (AIM) with the intent to clarify the scope and substance of the issues.
A problem identification, resolution and decision-making framework can provide a “start” in developing a common understanding of the situation to include acknowledging the diversity in individual perspectives. An ideal end state is to develop a solution where everyone benefits or at least, are not any worse off in the long-term.
The focus for a way ahead incorporates more of a moral than a legal perspective. On a legal perspective, actions that are taken to support or oppose a position are guided by the legal system. The FBI investigates and the Justice Department prosecutes violations of federal laws. The local police and courts get involved with criminal offenses and individuals can pursue civil action (defamation, libel, slander, harassment) that violate their individual rights.
What does “right” look like?
The term “moral” is defined ” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior: ethical.” Taking action that results in “a more perfect” Union and community requires that you ask the effected stakeholders how they define “more perfect”, e.g., what “right” looks like. A follow-up question is to identify the feedback that will be used to determine if a change resulted in improvement.
A Problem Identification, Resolution, Decision Making Process
- Phase 1 – Understand the situation, identify and define the problem.
- Phase II – Identify causes and/or solution (s) to include identifying the advantages and disadvantages of each proposed option or course of action. What feedback will be used to determine a change resulted in improvement?
- Phase III – Select and implement a solution (s)
- Phase IV – Assess the effectiveness of the solution. What is working and what is not? Repeat the cycle as needed.
Example: Local community (county) Decision-Making Process.
Phase 1 – Understand the situation – identify and define the problem
The AIM website identifies the purpose of the organization, principles, and activities. The site states that AIM “prohibits the advocacy of or participation in supremacy, violence, or illegal activity. We reject extremism of any stripe.”
Given the communication technologies that are available in today’s world, it is easier to compare actions with rhetoric. It is also more difficult to keep anything “secret.” The challenge is separating fact from allegations when determining the truth.
“WHO WE ARE: AIM is a growing, active movement defending our nation against mass immigration and the scourge of globalism.” Source – AIM website.
For Supporters of AIM
- What specifically is the problem e.g., how do you describe and define “mass immigration” and the effects of the “scourge of globalism”?
- What do you identify as “America’s historical demographics”?
- Are you proposing new legislation?
- What legislation in this area are you supporting?
For Non-Supporters of AIM
- If AIM and its members and/or supporters are “the problem”, what specific beliefs, statements, and positions do you disagree with and why?
- How do you define the key terms involving this issue? Members and/or supporters of AIM have been accused of being white supremacists, racists, white nationalists, fascists, Nazis. What criteria and facts are applied to render this opinion?
- What do you propose as a solution (s)? What action should be taken? What does success look like in the immediate and long-term?
- How will you determine what strategies will be effective in the long-term and will not do more harm than good?
For Supporters and non-supporters of AIM
QUESTION: What do you see as the root cause for those that have a different belief than you?
A technique for helping to identify a root cause is called The Five Why’s:
- Start by identifying a problem that you’re having.
- Ask “why” that problem is occurring. Make sure that your answer is grounded in fact. You should be able to state the proof or evidence that you’re relying on for your assertion of the reason why the problem is occurring.
- Once you have an answer, ask “why” again.
- Continue the process until you reach the root cause of the problem. Usually, you’ll be able to identify the root cause of a problem after asking “why” five times.
- Once you’ve identified the root cause of the problem, come up with a countermeasure that prevents it from recurring.
Conflict and Violence
- Do you believe violence is justified in support of your respective goals? (Violence defined as an action that violates the law.)
- Do you believe any action short of being considered criminal, is appropriate? If yes can you provide examples?
Prejudice, Bigotry, Bigot
Humans are imperfect. The definition of prejudice includes “harm caused by the adverse preconceptions of others.” “The word is often used to refer to a preconceived, usually unfavorable, evaluation of another person based on that person’s political affiliation, sex, gender, beliefs, values, social class, age, disability, religion, sexuality, race/ethnicity, language, nationality, beauty, occupation, education, criminality, sport team affiliation or other personal characteristics.” (Wikipedia)
Webster’s New World College Dictionary states that: “The definition of bigotry is prejudice and the state of being intolerant” and a bigot is a person who is prejudiced, or intolerant of those who are different.” Reference: OneLook Dictionary.
The “So what?” Human beings are imperfect – we have prejudices and we can all be bigots. The first step in resolving a problem is to recognize you may have one.
- What have been successful strategies in addressing bigotry that has resulted in positive changes in the immediate and long-term?
- What are examples of strategies that have not worked?
Examples of success stories – Confronting bigotry – Changing Minds
- Megan Phelps-Roper TED Talk: Four suggestions supporting dialogue: (1) Don’t assume bad intent; (2) Ask Questions; (3) Stay Calm; (4) Make the argument.