** Warning: Some of the language quoted in this article is explicit, offensive, violent, and may be inappropriate for younger readers. Reader discretion is advised .**
Their threats of violence have never left me. For opposing President Donald Trump’s lies, bigotry, abuse of power, and recklessness, one of his supporters tweeted me publicly that he’d like to beat me. Another wished our country would fall into a civil war so he could find me on the battlefield and murder me. Still another wished I would get stage four cancer and die.
As I’ve heard from many in the Resistance movement against Trump, such insults, attacks, and threats are disturbingly common. People have told me how they’ve gotten threats of death and rape. Some have told me how they live in fear and have needed professional counseling to cope with the impact of Trump’s presidency.
From a man who incites violence and hate, and with the increase in hate crimes America has suffered since Trump took office, such hateful comments and threats are what I’ve come to expect from many of Donald Trump’s devout followers. And for a long time, I did what I think many people do when they get such hate mail, insults, and threats: I’ve simply deleted them and reported them when appropriate.
But recently, I got to thinking: What if that hate could be flipped on its head? What if we could unmake the hate?
It turns out we can.
Looking back through some of the hate mail and messages I’ve received, I found that I could unmake Trump supporters’ hateful messages by rearranging their words into something positive. If meeting hate with hate can beget more hate, then responding with positive messages not only subverts the hate, it flips it on its head. It unmakes the hate.
These are not meant to be perfect anagrams, but here are some of the hate messages I’ve gotten, and the positive messages I created out of them, so far:
*Note: Identities have been redacted so as to not reward people with exposure for their hateful and threatening messages. Highlighted letters denote those from the originals I’ve used to form more positive messages.
For expressing my personal opinion that Hillary Clinton is our rightful president, and despite Trump having planned to contest the results when she was ahead if he didn’t win, one Twitter user had this to say.
But buried within this person’s bigoted and hateful comment lies a larger truth.
Others have targeted me for being bisexual and for speaking out against Donald Trump’s politicized speech to the Boy Scouts of America (for which the Boy Scouts later had to apologize). One person used my orientation to attack me for criticizing Caitlyn Jenner’s support of Trump and for suggesting that she should apologize for enabling Trump’s bigotry.
But such hate and bigotry, however, helps no one.
Still others attacked me for suggesting that Senator Elizabeth Warren should have been allowed to read a letter by Coretta Scott King in a debate about Jeff Sessions’s racism allegations, rather than being silenced.
For me and many others, however, Warren is an inspiration.
You might think that opposing Trump’s lies and bigotry, as well as Russia’s act of war in the 2016 election, would be seen as a positive act of patriotism, but one Trump supporter didn’t seem think so.
But buried within this hateful message, I found a larger truth.
Even more telling are some of the comments made by President Trump himself, such as when he encouraged those at one of his campaign rallies to physically attack protesters. Trump said,
But within his statement lies a deeper truth that America must hear:
Trump’s support for white supremacists and neo-Nazis at Charlottesville, blaming “both sides,” sends dangerous messages that we must do everything we can to resist. On Charlottesville, Trump said,
Trump’s views are dead wrong and deserving of censure, but here, too, we can create an honest and more revealing message even from his vile comments supporting white supremacists.
But the truth is that bigotry hurts us all. Trump shouldn’t be using his power to attack the Constitutional rights of American citizens. He should be taking a knee along side them.
These are but a handful of re-written messages I’ve created. In this way, it’s possible to turn many of the hateful, violent, and negative things Trump and his supporters say into tools of positive resistance.
I invite others to re-write similar publicly available messages made by Donald Trump as well as those they’ve received on Twitter into new, positive messages and to share them alongside mine in a project I’ve created called #UnmakeTheHate . As a non-commercial project of free political expression and resistance against bigotry and violence (especially that incited and supported by Donald Trump), #UnmakeTheHate creates a space on Twitter and beyond for new, positive resistance. Together, we can flip the violence and hate inspired by Donald Trump and many of his followers on its head. Together, we can unmake the hate.