A very wise man whose social justice roots go back to the civil rights movement once gave me a working definition of internalized oppression.
He said I should pay close attention to situations where:
- I feel attacked
- I want to respond but am not sure how
- so I say nothing—silencing myself
- and the anger and frustration keep building within me for a long time after the encounter.
He said that in a situation like that you are engaging in internalized oppression. You have assumed that the other person in the situation is so powerful that you have no alternative but silence.
But even if it is true that you are dealing with a powerful person, or an oppressor, or someone else who is attempting to silence you, you are under no obligation to cooperate with it.
You always have the choice to stand up and speak up for yourself.
When you are willing to accept the consequences of speaking up, you sometimes discover that the consequences are not as bad as you thought they would be, or that in fact there are so consequences at all, because the person you thought was so powerful has a lot less power than you imagined.
Below are some alternative ways to respond.
If you don’t know what else to say, just state the truth about what you feel.
That feels like a threat.
That sounds like an attack.
That is an insult and it is unfair.
Once you get more practiced, this changes to:
I will not be silent while you attack me.
I will not be silent while you accuse me of things I did not do.
I will not be silent while you claim I hold beliefs I do not hold.
The next levels of response include a challenge. Overwhelm them with honesty:
You are not telling the truth about me.
You are not telling the truth about this situation.
You are making negative assumptions that are not true.
I will not let you tell lies without challenge.
I will not let you insult my character without a response.
I will not allow you to attack me without speaking up to defend myself.
You have no right to speak to me in that manner.
Your behavior is inappropriate.
You are repeating inaccurate information and spreading lies.
I have the right to defend attacks on my character.
I do not cooperate with your attempt to distort the truth.
I have the obligation to speak up and challenge propaganda and lies.
You are wrong on the facts.
You have no evidence for that.
That is simply not true.
You may not change the other person. S/he may not respond the way you want.
But you will process the situation differently after it is over because you stood up for yourself.
You will not have that nagging feeling of “I should have SAID something… why didn’t I speak up for myself… why did I just sit there and take it.”
Even if you do not manage to gain the upper hand and you LOSE the argument, you will still end the encounter feeling more empowered than if you had remained silent.
Now let’s look at how Ryan Lizza handled the spokesbot from Concerned Women for America.
Here is the clip for those who have not seen it:
Ryan Lizza is asked a question. He answers it.
Spokesbot Penny Nance is asked a question. A tough question with no easy answer. So instead of answering it, she starts out with an insult, a smug claim that moral relativism is a new topic for Liberals.
That is the point in these interviews when my blood usually starts boiling and I have to calm myself down or change the channel.
But LO AND BEHOLD, Lizza speaks up and challenges her! OMG is this actually happening? “Moral relativism is not a new subject for me so please don’t make a personal attack on me. thank you very much.”
Spokesbot Nance goes to all the normal tactics and THEY ALL FAIL!
“I didn’t interrupt you! You’re being rude! Stop. Stop. Stop.” (Just imagine for a second what would have happened if Hillary Clinton had ever pulled out such a condescending scolding schoolteacher attitude and said Stop Stop Stop to anyone in that tone of voice, much less during a nationally televised interview.)
Then she strangely says “I wasn’t even talking about you” which is definitely from the “alternative facts” school of talking points.
Lizza will not cooperate with the gaslighting: You were talking about me after I made a statement.”
Nance goes to “You talked over me... over a woman which is disrespectful.”
Everyone please note two things.
First, one reason Rs send female spokesbots on these shows is so they can play that “talking over a woman is rude” card if necessary, hoping that chivalry will prevent men from defending themselves as Lizza did.
Second, talking over other people is the number one weapon in the Rcon spokesbot arsenal. As guests or hosts they feel free to talk over others, and IOKIYAR. But if you talk over them, suddenly they get all upset. This is the proof that they know talking over people is rude, and also the proof that they hold themselves to one standard and expect us to adhere to a higher standard. And so often we accommodate them.
But not this time! Lizza is NOT PLAYING! She called him disrespectful and he snapped back with a true observation: “It is disrespectful to come on air and accuse me of not caring about moral relativism.”
Nance tries to hide behind “I don’t even know you.” Hmmm, she didn’t seem to be thinking about that when she started her portion of the segment with an insult.
Lizza is in for a penny in for a pound and doesn’t let “I don’t even know you” go by: “That’s right! So don’t make accusations like that!”
Nance tries “You are speaking over me, let me get to the point” and he answers AGAIN: “You are making a point about whether I cared about moral relativism.”
“And you’re just yelling at me on air.”
“No, I’m not yelling (and he wasn’t—he did a great job at keeping a moderated tone) I’m trying to correct the record.”
Nance is coming to the end of her rope. “May I speak? May I? OK. Thank you.”
This deep into the exchange you would think Nance had learned her lesson, but instead she goes back to the snide Rcon formula, “I was going to say, before I was rudely interrupted, that I think...”
Lizza jumps in AGAIN! He will not be denied! “No, it’s rude to make... come on air and say things that are incorrect, OK? And if you are going to do that yes I will interrupt you.”
I have never seen anything like this. It is as if he could hear the way I scream back at the television during these interviews. I heard my own commentary coming out of his mouth. It was eerie and surreal and beautiful and I was LOVING IT.
Rs do this ALL THE TIME! They are SO RUDE with slipping personal attacks in their interview remarks and talking over people and yet so quick to accuse others of being rude. They can dish it out but they can’t take it. Give them a taste of their own medicine and they melt under the bucket of water.
The spokebot falls back on appealing to the host, perhaps forgetting she was not on Fakes News where the host would automatically take her side: “Poppy are you going to let him just berate me on air or are you going to just continue to let him do this?”
This was an important moment. Poppy Harlow could have hung Lizza out to dry, but instead she also showed backbone and said “You know Penny, you said something and he is defending himself.”
Nance knows she has played her last card and she has lost. She is reduced to mumbling “Whatever.”
Harlow ends the interview by thanking them both, and Lizza, completely composed, says thank you back.
Nance lets her last word be another mumbled “Whatever.”
Complete and utter defeat.
ATTENTION BLUE TEAM. WATCH AND LEARN. More of this and Rcons will figure out that we are not going to sit there quietly while they smarmily rely on their old script of simultaneously refusing to answer questions and spewing false assertions about who we are and what we believe. They will abandon that tactic if they see it has stopped working. They may go to a new tactic, but because we are smarter and we outnumber them we will find a way to defeat whatever they come up with.
The whole exchange made my day. And I hope it taught a bunch of other folks how to stand up for themselves in these types of interviews.
A. thing. of. beauty.
Thank you, Ryan Lizza!!!
Let there be peace among us, and let us not be instruments of our own oppression.
—The Rev. Canon Ed Rodman
Previous TRUE BLUE REPORT diaries
Feb 5: These protest signs with Bible cites will confuse and befuddle RWNJs
Feb 4: Blue Ribbon Winners: Temple B’Nai Israel, Judge Robart, CNN, Senate Phone Callers
Feb 3: Not rich, not smart, not a good businessman, not a winner—DJT is NOTHING he claims to be
Feb 2: Thursday action—Encouragement, thanks, and apologies (pick one or more)
Feb 1: July 7, 2009 to August 25, 2009 and September 25, 2009 to February 4, 2010
Jan 31: If you’re on overload that’s part of their plan—there’s more than one way to #resist
Jan 30: Interview Skills 101 for reporters attempting to interview KAC and other Rcons
Jan 29: Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness
Jan 28: Blue Ribbon Winners: Women's March participants and #NoMuslimBan demonstrators and...
Jan 27: I wish Steve Bannon would tell me to keep my mouth shut
Jan 26: Thursday Action—Have you ever written a letter to the editor? Here’s how to start
Jan 25: The Asch Conformity Study, inauguration crowds, and the importance of speaking out
Jan 24: #ResistTrumpTuesday—good news day or another paying dues day?
Jan 23: Spy the Lie 101: How to enjoy watching Rcon spokesbot interviews, even KAC!
Jan 22: Why I prayed for the President* today
Jan 21: The only silver lining in the midst of these clouds
Inaugural (!) diary: Stop expecting Republicons to make sense