“Never fight fire with fire.”
Until recently, I looked at that phrase with snobbish snickering.
“Oh look, it’s the pacifistic ‘just give ‘em a hug’ hippies.”
I saw the wisdom behind it, but viewed it as over-shared, over-applied, and its results over-dramatized.
“Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire,” I’d say, “You can’t always rely on pacifistic-love to deal with everything, it’s not realistic.”
I mocked it in the area of school bullying.
Hearing stories of kids bullied for superficial reasons, some taking their own lives because of it always hits me at the core.
Hearing some love-and-understanding psychologist tell parents the best way to deal with a bully is diplomacy and love, makes me shakes my head.
“You can’t negotiate with a bully,” would be my response to such advice.
“Ignoring them won’t help. You have to confront them. You have to show them you’re not easy prey.”
Basically, I advocate fighting back. With bullies, I say, throw some fire at them. However, I would never claim this approach can be applied across all areas of life.
“Fighting fire with fire” can have serious repercussions. It can destroy any chance you have at actually fixing the problem.
It can augment division, strife, hatred, and hurt feelings. As is now being felt in the aftermath of the Chicago Trump rally protests. For many Americans fearful of a Trump presidency, fighting fire with fire seems like a good idea.
It seems like a good idea to: gather thousands of protestors to a public rally. It seems like a good idea to: scream, yell, confront, and jeer at Trump supporters. It seems like a good idea to: shut down a rally via fear, force, and numbers.
The protests in Chicago are the beginnings of a “fight fire with fire” national strategy. More protests are planned for locations across the nation.
Americans are starting to fight fire with fire. And it’s troubling.
Because this isn’t some middle school bully. Trump isn’t a bully in need of a good beating.
Bullies use force, insults, and peer pressure because they themselves suffer from low self-esteem. By picking on weaker kids, the bully projects an image of himself as strong and in control. Realistically, the bully is not in control. He suffers from the same tactics that he uses to control others.
It’s why it’s important to break that projection.
Once you show the bully (and the audience) that he’s merely projecting an image of strength, you break his control over you.
This is why fighting fire with fire is so effective against bullies. They don’t control the fire. They’re merely using its powers themselves.
Now, shifting back to Trump: He’s no small-time bully.
Trump is not simply using fire, he controls it. He is the master of using confrontation, aggression, and fear to accomplish his goals. Right off the bat, Trump has used confrontation, aggression, and fear to climb the polls. He’s used it to control the media, the debates, and the voters.
He’s not projecting anything. He’s not vulnerable to the same tactics he uses. This is the ultimate failure of the Chicago protests, and any subsequent ones. If Trump controls the “fire,” any strategy that involves utilizing fire to fight back is going to backfire. It will have the opposite effect.
Instead of pushing Americans away, these protests will draw them closer to Trump. It’s already happened. Trump is unfazed by protests, aggression, and violence. In fact, he’s called for his supporters to get more aggressive and violent.
After a protestor was taken out of his St. Louis rally, Trump remarked that:
“Part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long [to kick them out] is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore.”
There’s dozens of comments from Trump encouraging violence toward protestors.
So why would a protest accomplish anything?
Why would Americans watch protestors chant, disrupt, and clash with Trump supporters, and ultimately decide they’ll drop their support for Trump?
Specifically, why would republicans look at these protests and side against Trump?
You’ve got left-wing activists protesting against a republican candidate and clashing with republican voters. Trump looks like the victim in this situation. He had to cancel his rally. People got hurt.
And that’s why I mentioned above that these protests are already driving people to Trump. And that’s why fighting fire with fire won’t work against Trump.
He’s not projecting. Trump is the real deal. He’s a master of utilizing confrontation, aggression, and fear to push his agenda. He’s not hurt when you protest against him. Protests get him media coverage, sympathy, and ultimately more support.
I don’t know how we’ll stop Trump. But I do know that it won’t be via violence and intimidation.