Don’t attack the person, attack the argument

My SECOND video on How to Talk Trump at Thanksgiving is called “Don’t attack the person, attack the argument.”

Also known as, the Ad Hominem Fallacy.

We’ve seen this type of fallacy on both sides, calling people “racist”, “crooked”, “weak”, a “liar”. The Ad Hominem fallacy is dangerous because it diverts the attention of the argument (that we’re discussing), and it puts it on person.

Because if you can prove that your opponent is a liar, you don’t have to prove that the substance of what you’re talking about is true.

Look out for phrases like…

  1. “Of course you would say that…”
  2. “The only reason you could possibly be in favor of this is…”
  3. “How can you argue for eating vegetarian when you sometimes eat fish” (One of my favs, this clearly shows how a person is attacked instead of being addressed for or against his argument.)

This Thanksgiving, look out for when people attack the person, and not the argument. And maybe try to keep focused on the argument. You would do that, wouldn’t you!

How to Talk Trump at Thanksgiving

How do we talk about Trump at Thanksgiving?

As people feel unsafe, fear moves them to either silence, or violence. Lashing out, or not saying anything.

Based on the current tone of my Facebook Wall I anticipate some emotional conversations happening in America tomorrow. (As well as failed opportunities for finding mutual understanding.)

So… I made a short series of videos for YouTube on how to have difficult conversations.

Check them out, share with people you think might benefit, and if you have any feedback for me please let me know! 🙂

Waking up in Trump’s America

It’s time to Unite the Country! [ep1 ]

I feel like I’ve been in an episode of Black Mirror… not (only) because Trump won. But because of what it tells us: we live in a divided country.

And I was wrong. And being wrong like this has caused me pain. I had no sense how divided we were, and Tuesday night (election night) was a wake up call. Americans are angry. Americans are divided. And so I’m here to speak about that, to humbly admit I was wrong, and to promote conversations that work to unite the country.

The Day After Trump Won in NYC [ep2]

Unfriend all Trump supporters!? [ep3 ]

The Obstacle is the Way [ep 4]

“The things which hurt, instruct,” said Benjamin Franklin. Through our pain, we will find the cure. And so I’m looking for ways to turn my pain over the division in our country, into a positive dialogue where we can unite the country.

Why Doesn’t America Have a National Museum of Slavery?

Upon arriving back home from Berlin, Germany I can’t stop wondering: Why isn’t there a Museum of American Slavery?

Last Sunday, while at a dinner party in Germany, I asked my friend a question about the Nazis. “Immediately, I realized it might be rude to discuss that painful period in German history. I apologized and tried to change the subject.”

My friend interrupted me, “No need to apologize, please let’s talk about the Nazis.” From there he explained at length how modern Germany has come to terms with such a regretful past. In our conversation I came to admire the educational resources, artifacts, and museums that the German people have to keep their past alive. All of these resources act together to advance the mantra: this should never happen again, not in Germany, not anywhere in the world.

I wish Americans felt the same way about our relationship to slavery. Sure, in America we have built museums that uphold memories of our history and monuments that praise our fallen veterans. But what I’ve noticed is that we tend to erect monuments where we see ourselves as either the victors, or victims. For instance, Vietnam Memorial includes only American names, and does not have any of the names of the Vietnamese dead.

Compare this with Germany, where in Berlin’s city center you will find the an enormous Holocaust memorial: 19,000 square meters wide and right in the center of the city situated behind the US Embassy and the Brandenburg Gate. It is there for everyone to see. The name imparts tremendous responsibility on the German people: “The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.” This is what responsibility looks like! The monument serves as artifacts of a regretful past. We can learn from it, and have conversations about it, all so that we never forget.

Someone once said that “those who do not know history are destined to repeat it.” I’m afraid that in America, we often repeat the bad parts of history.

Take a look at Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall between Mexico and America: I can tell you that there are no conversations in Germany at the moment where the solution is to build a wall between Germany and its border countries! Why? Because there is literally still a wall still standing in Berlin to remind the Germans that, “Nope, that wall didn’t work out.” But here in America, we hide our scars. We don’t take the same responsibility.

While at dinner that night in Berlin, I admired my friend. Because when speaking about Nazis, he took responsibility for his German past. Not “responsibility” for the horrors committed, but the responsibility for not letting people forget.

Why Doesn’t America Have a Museum of Slavery? I’m not sure of the answer. All I can wonder is that if history is truly written by the winners, then why don’t the “winners” of the 13th Amendment have their own museum? Only after all Americans can take the same level of responsibility for the past, can we ever evolve as a country beyond our wounds, and finally start healing.