The wave that changed history | March 17, 2017 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - March 17, 2017

The wave that changed history

Fifty years ago, Palo Alto teacher's lesson on fascism took on a life of its own

by Linda Taaffe

The classroom guards, symbolic armbands and secret salutes carried out by members of an elite student movement at Cubberley High School in Palo Alto may have ended decades ago, but that brief, ominous week in April 1967 when a history lesson took an unexpected turn continues to have worldwide impact on the eve of its 50th anniversary.

The Third Wave began as an experiment in the classroom of first-year history teacher Ron Jones to simulate fascism in World War II and demonstrate to skeptical students how the Nazi Party rose to power. Over five days, the movement took on a life of its own as it spread from the 30 sophomores in Jones' homeroom class to more than 200 students from all three high schools in the Palo Alto school district eager to pledge allegiance to a social movement that promised acceptance and reward to those who obediently followed its rigid rules.

"It started out as a fun game with the most popular teacher at school," said Mark Hancock, one of the students in Jones' Contemporary World History homeroom class. "He told us, 'If you're an active participant, I'll give you an A; if you just go along with it, I'll give you a C; if you try a revolution, I'll give you an F, but if your revolution succeeds, I'll give you an A.'

"I was a mischievous 15-year-old, and I remember right away, I wanted to be one of those revolutionaries who got an A. ... But it went well beyond (grades) pretty quickly, and at the end, I was scared to death."

Jones posted student guards at the classroom door, ordered students to march into class and sit at attention with their hands clasped behind them. He taught them to salute each other with a curved hand similar to the salute used during the Nazi regime. To avoid rebellion, he made it illegal for any party members to congregate in groups larger than three outside of class — a rule that had to be followed 24/7. He used students as secret police and held public trials to banish "resistors" to the library with a reduced grade, according to an account by student reporter Bill Klink that appeared in the school newspaper, "The Catamount," on April 21, 1967.

At the time, no one realized the experiment would become a significant catalyst for much broader discussions about bullying, history, peer pressure, fascism and psychology or inspire multiple stage productions, a musical, movies and books. In more than 32 countries, study of the Third Wave has become part of the classroom curriculum, including in Israel and Germany, where the story is a high school reading requirement.

Palo Alto City Historian Steve Staiger said the Third Wave is among the most-asked-about topics, behind the Grateful Dead and developer Joseph Eichler's homes.

"It's become one of the more significant historic events in Palo Alto's past," Staiger said.

But back in 1967, the classroom experiment drew little attention. Local media didn't report on it, parents quickly dismissed it, and most of Jones' students seemed to drop the subject the following week when they moved on to a history lesson about Vietnam. Life went on with no one publicly talking about the experiment for an entire decade until Jones unexpectedly bumped into a former student on a street in Berkeley who immediately gave him the secret salute. That brief encounter inspired Jones to write a short article in a local magazine about his Third Wave experience, which captured the attention of Hollywood and beyond. The 1981 film "The Wave" and subsequent book of the same name are based on his article.

Hancock,too, eventually decided to speak out about those five days during his sophomore year that had gnawed at him for more than 40 years.

"'It had gotten to be such a big story — obviously something much bigger than all of us — that I knew the time was right to talk to the other students and give us a voice," said Hancock in telephone interview from his Seattle home last week.

At the same time, former classmate and Hollywood film editor Philip Neel ("Twin Peaks," "Boston Common") said he had decided to begin tracking down classmates to get their take on the experiment after discovering that his two daughters were learning about the Third Wave in their southern California school.

The duo ultimately teamed up and produced the 2010 award-winning documentary "Lesson Plan," which weaves together personal accounts from schoolmates, Jones, parents and former Principal Scott Thomson.

On March 22, the Palo Alto History Museum will show the film for the first time in Palo Alto during a special event at the school site where it all happened (now Cubberley Community Center) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Third Wave experiment. Hancock, Neel and Jones will be on hand to answer questions.

"It wasn't until we started doing the movie that I found out the depth of what had really happened. We were all blindsided by how everything unfolded at the time," said Neel over the telephone from his southern California home.

The experiment

Jones had just graduated from Stanford University when he was hired at Cubberley during the 1966-'67 school year. At the time, Cubberley was a freewheeling school that prided itself on being experimental, and Jones, who liked to bring in guest speakers and conduct unorthodox lessons, quickly became a favorite teacher on campus, Hancock recalled.

"He was very charismatic and his classes were really fun. They were so good that if a particular speaker came to campus, other kids in other classes would sneak out and watch our class," Hancock said. "A lot of students wished they had him as their teacher, and we knew we were lucky."

No one had any reason to be alarmed that April when a student asked how could the Nazis have been so appealing to the general population that no one spoke up during the Holocaust, and Jones responded, "I don't know. Let's try an experiment. I will be the dictator, and you will be the movement," Hancock recalled.

The following Monday, Jones ordered the students to address him as Mr. Jones, instead of Ron. He lectured them on the benefits of discipline and ordered them to practice the proper way to sit and stand at perfect attention through repeated drills.

"It was really only meant to be a one-hour exercise," Jones said in an interview with the Weekly. "I definitely wanted the students to have some understanding of the Holocaust. I thought it would be a stepping stone into what it was like to be in a totalitarian state if they followed the directions of a teacher in a marshal-like way."

When Jones returned to class the next day, he discovered the students sitting in the same posture that he had left them in the previous day with "these zipper smiles on their faces," Jones said.

He thought, "Oh my gosh, what is this about?" and spontaneously, like improv, Jones went to the blackboard and wrote the slogans, "strength through discipline," and "strength through community." The class began to chant the words in unison, and a movement was born.

"There was this excitement about being part of a community," Jones said.

In class that day, he created the secret salute and gave the group the name, "The Third Wave" — surfer lingo used to describe the last and strongest wave in a series of swells.

"When the bell sounded ending the period, I asked the class for complete silence. With everyone sitting at attention I slowly raised my arm and with a cupped hand I saluted," Jones recalled in his article, "The Third Wave, 1967: an account." "It was a silent signal of recognition. They were something special. Without command the entire group of students returned the salute."

The next day, Jones issued membership cards to any student that wanted to continue in the Wave. Not a single student elected to leave the room, he said.

Then, he had the students put their heads down and secretly tapped three of them on the shoulder. Whoever received a tap was given the special assignment to report any students not complying to the Wave's rules.

"I remember not being tapped and thinking, 'I'm going to miss out on something here,'" Hancock said. "This is when it was still a fun little game. But then, he started rolling out the rules."

Anyone accused of not following the rules faced a public trial.

"In the morning, he would come in and stand at the front of the class with us sitting up straight," Hancock recalled. "Then, he would pull a piece of paper out of his shirt pocket, and he would say a name. That person would stand up, and he would say, 'My secret police have informed me that you have broken a rule. What do you have to say for yourself? ... If we are going to be a disciplined group and do great things, we can't have a rule breaker here.'"

He would then ask the students one by one, "Is this person guilty?" until he had everyone chanting "guilty, guilty, guilty," Hancock added. "It scared the hell out of me."

Once convicted, the student was exiled from the Wave and not allowed to come back to class.

"I had no idea it would go this far, but it grew exponentially," Jones said. "By the third day, other students were cutting class to be in the Wave, and by the fourth day, they were migrating from Paly and Gunn to be part of it."

Jones said the experiment reached its turning point for him on Day 3 when a student body guard accompanied him into the teachers' faculty room.

"There was an English teacher sitting there who said, 'Hey, students aren't allowed in here.' And this child said, 'I'm not a student, I'm a bodyguard.' I knew at that very moment that that young adult had crossed some invisible line, and this was no longer a game or classroom activity. It was something real to this person, and I was crossing the same line," Jones said. "I was beginning to like the order and the adulation. It was pretty intoxicating."

Jones kept waiting for someone to step in and stop the experiment — but no one ever did. The parents, the faculty, the students all trusted him without question.

"By now, I'm deep into it and I'm thinking, 'How is this going to end?' I was hoping some faculty member would come into the room and challenge it ... but that teacher never arrived."

Even the principal, Jones said, liked the fact that students seemed more ordered and weren't roaming the halls.

At the end of the week, Jones dropped a bombshell on the students: He entered the class and pulled the curtain across the windows to darken the room. He was no longer smiling.

He lowered his voice and told the students he had an important announcement: "The Third Wave isn't just an experiment. ... It's real," Hancock recalled.

The students had been chosen to be part of a new third political party that was going to revolutionize American politics. He told them their national political leader would unveil himself during a televised speech at a rally that afternoon.

"That was the turning point for me. I had this horrible sense of being trapped," Hancock said.

That afternoon, students piled into the auditorium carrying posters, chanting and believing the large number of "reporters" and "cameramen" documenting the event were from real outlets, not part of Jones' experiment.

When Jones turned on the television, however, only white snow appeared on the screen.

Everyone silently sat in position waiting and waiting for their leader to appear. Several minutes passed and nothing happened.

Moments later, video of the Nuremberg Rally started on a giant screen against the wall, displaying Hitler and the Third Reich.

"Listen closely, I have something important to tell you," Jones recounted in his article. "Sit down. There is no leader. There is no such thing as a national youth movement called the Third Wave. You have been used. Manipulated. Shoved by your own desires into the place you now find yourself. You are no better or worse than the German Nazis we have been studying."

Jones said there was a wide range of reactions.

Hancock said he remembers some students cried, while others said they knew it was a joke all along. Others, like him, had run out of the rally in fear before Jones made his final announcement.

Jones said silence was the common experience shared by all. No one publicly spoke about that rally for 10 years.

"That was really the genesis of that student question, 'How could the Germans behave that way after the war?'" Jones said. "Silence is what happens when you feel shame."

Neel said when it was over, his initial reaction was, "Wow. That was an amazing experience, and boy did I learn a lesson."

He said there are some who see the documentary and say Jones should have never conducted the experiment in the first place and are upset that his students still endorse him today.

"My feeling is the opposite," Neel said. "It was a given that was he was doing was ethically wrong, but the lesson he taught far outweighed (that)."

Neel called the experience a wake-up call that has had lifelong impact.

"I think I process things differently now," said Neel, who remains leery about joining any kind of group and questions everything her hears and reads.

The appeal

Jones launched the Wave just two months before the Summer of Love got into full swing. It was a time of unwanted war, protests and racial integration taking place for the first time.

"With the unrest that all of that brought, there was a sense that maybe we could change these things," Jones said. That made the Wave appealing, especially to the boys who were facing the draft in two years.

Hancock said he remembered thinking, "I don't want to get drafted. Maybe this is a good thing even though I don't like how this feels."

There also were grades to think about and the peer pressure of being part of an elite group.

"Jones pulled it off so well because we could identify so easily with him," Neel said. "He was young, he spoke our language, and we felt very comfortable with him."

He didn't make the experiment racist or anti-Semitic, Hancock added.

"If he had crossed that line and asked us to turn against each other, it might have been a different outcome," he said.

The biggest appeal was the way Jones conducted the experiment, Hancock said.

"What people don't understand is the way that Jones rolled out the Wave. We got sucked into it because it was gradual," Hancock said. "By the time you felt trapped, there wasn't much you could do. The reality is that it was your social studies class, and you really couldn't go anyplace else. The only thing you could have done is take the game to a new level and be a revolutionary or try to get out through the administration, but that didn't seem like a possible avenue because everyone was part of the Wave as far as you knew."

Hancock, who now travels the globe to speak to students about the Wave, said the experiment was an emotional milestone in their lives.

"Most of us have very strong memories of it," he said. "But the reality is not everyone had the same experience. Each one of us had to make the decision during that time whether we were going to be for it, resist it or just try to stay out of the way and get an A and move on."

For Hancock, he wanted to be a revolutionary but never found a way to resist.

"I wish I had done more and could say I was a major resistor," he said. "I had good intentions, but it was like a totalitarian state, so if you said the wrong thing, you would disappear. I made up my mind to try to figure it out from inside the system, but everyday everything kept changing. I kept thinking, 'The clouds will part and I'll know what to do,' but that never happened, and I didn't act."

Neel said he opted to stay out of the way — a decision he regrets.

"I was in the middle, which is probably the worst place to be," he said. "I was just going along with the flow and going along with everybody else and not challenging it, but not entirely endorsing it. ... I stayed too long. Some people ran out of the rally, but I was there until the bitter end."

Out of all the students, only two actively resisted — sophomores Alyssa Hess and Sherry Tousley. On the final day, Hess stood up in class and urged her classmates not to attend the rally. Tousley resisted from the start. Tousley was one of Jones' top students who had been banished from class early on for questioning the movement's purpose. She anonymously launched an anti-Wave resistance group, "The Breakers." In the documentary "Lesson Plan," she said her father drove her to Cubberley before school hours so she could hang anti-Wave posters up high in the halls so students couldn't tear them down. Until the making of the documentary 40 years later, not a single person — except her father — knew Tousley was the sole person behind the resistance group.

"I remember thinking,'Who was this resistance group that I could go find and join?'" Hancock said. "(Tousley and Hess) put themselves in considerable personal risk."

Can it happen again?

"People often say it wouldn't work today because there would be parent involvement, but take a look at our own national election," Jones said.

Many of the questions those students faced 50 years ago, he said, are the same ones we are facing today:"How do we change things? Do we work within the system, or risk arrest? Do we accept civil disobedience?"

For Jones, who now spends his time in the theater and writing, the Wave represents a period in his life that he prefers not to talk about. The experiment ultimately brought an end to his teaching career in the public school system two years later when he was denied tenure despite support from hundreds of students and parents who petitioned to have him stay.

"It makes me quite pleased that this has become a catalyst for people to talk about history. That's very rewarding, but I'm not proud of the Wave, and I don't want to see it repeated," said Jones, who has turned down inquiries about how to re-enact the Wave from everyone from cult leader Jim Jones to a British television company wanting to turn the experiment into a reality show.

Jones said he was particularly surprised how the students in the middle — those who weren't the athletes, cheerleaders or part of the "in" crowd — responded to the Wave.

"Sometimes as a teacher, you miss the middle group, those who just want to be successful at something for once in life," he said. "What was interesting during the Wave was that the very bright kids were excluded and martialed out of the classroom by guards early on. That left the middle group, who then felt empowered. That's probably what's happening today in the United States. People who felt left out suddenly are in control, and it feels good.

"Can it happen again? I say, 'It's happening.'"

The March 22 free event is full but the documentary is available on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play, and other materials are posted at lessonplanmovie.com and thewavehome.com.

Associate Editor Linda Taaffe can be emailed at ltaaffe@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by David , a resident of Midtown
on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:13 am

Although many may attempt to associate Trump with Hitler, the true bullies of today are Islamic terrorists and leftist socialists. Whenever these two groups are challenged for their violent tactics, they accuse opposition of being racist or bigots. With the defeat of Clinton, the protests did not include any form of debate, but simply involved violence and intimidation in the attempt to force conformity to the leftist view. It is true that it is happening today. Just look at the public schools and universities to see how leftists have controlled the lessons being taught and influenced students to have disdain for their own country while terrorists are glorified as heroes. And millions of patents are willing to spend billions of dollars on such nonsense without question. Parents should demand a refund.


Posted by resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 17, 2017 at 7:56 am

Have you seen the latest "NEWSWEEK" they have gone all out with this Godwin's Law hysteria. They put Hitler on the front cover, a flag of the fringe American Nazi Party on the back, and the entire issue is devoted to Trump-Hitler comparisons.

You are gravely insulting all the Americans around you who voted for him.
As grandson of European Jews who were gassed, I find these comparisons incredibly disturbing.

The sensationalist media ought to be ashamed of themselves. www.paloaltoonline.com has lost all credibility.

EDITORS: Please drop your severely biased aenda and cover the news NEUTRALLY


Posted by member, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2017 at 8:35 am

PAW has lost it's mind:

"...[C]hanged history"?
"...[C]ontinues to have worldwide impact on the eve of its 50th anniversary"?

Sorry, the impact of this on history is/was/will be merely the iota that the event occurred. Otherwise, nil, zero, nada!


Posted by member, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2017 at 9:02 am

Here's a more apt simulation of societal parallels to fascism, which is described in the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics as socialism with a capitalist veneer ( Web Link ):

The PA city council passes a comprehensive plan that refers to the history/uniqueness of PA. The plan also recognizes that property owners are links in a historical chain of ownership, and City of PA -- enduring as it is and as owners are not -- must guide property usage to ensure progress, harmony amongst the people and common interest, and preserve the history and uniqueness of PA.

Plausible? Yes! Would you agree?

Compare to:

"The [goverment] should retain supervision and each property owner should consider himself appointed by the [government]. It is his duty not to use his property against the interests of others among his own people." Adolf Hitler (as quoted by Barkai 1990 in the reference, above)


Posted by True Equivalencies, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2017 at 9:18 am

Having studied the Holocaust and the factors leading up to it, as well as the post-war soul searching, I think people who try to deny the lessons of it and how ordinary people get swept into movements like this are the insulting ones. There are indeed many echos today. We must not be afraid to remember the past - including how ordinary people can end up complicit in such unspeakable crimes - so that we understand that it can happen again and that there was nothing hugely different about the people of Germany at that time and anyone else.

@David, As far as disdain for the country, protest is enshrined in the Constitution, the right of assembly, the right of free speach.

The real disdain here is the Rightists trying to destroy our government, so that other nations think the nation that produced the atom bomb and put men on the moon, can't do anything right (maybe even faked the latter). Our enemies are only too happy to go along with it. Who is trying harder to destroy our government, the one we have fought wars to defend? The Rightists or the Russians? People who tell themselves they believe in Creation, but are doing everything in their power to destroy it, who say they believe in markets but are doing everything possible to put a giant thumb on the scale for the wealthy,who say they are patriots but try constantly to undermine our national standing in the world, people who claim they believe in competition, but won't have honest discussions in which they use actual facts (as opposed to alternative ones), people who claim they are motivated by Christian values but only ever do the opposite of what is actually in the Bible so thoroughly that the public thinks Christianity is the same thing as a fascist-leaning Republican party - these are people regularly lying to themselves to remain part of a movement that isn't fiscally responsible, isn't really conservative in the true sense if the word, but us very much a group with an authoritarian leadership like described above.

Do you think you can equate the left of the last decades with Communist leftists? I don't, but I do see stirrings of that in response to the Rightist quest for permanent majority/destruction of democratic control. The way to stop that is not doubling down on this road, it's empowering the intelligent and pragmatic right that used to exist but hasn't been seen for decades. Fiscally responsible people, like Jerry Zbrown (yes, I am making a point there - haven't seen any actually fiscally responsible conservatives in decades. Penny-wise and pound-foolish is not the same thing.)


Posted by Sanctimonious City, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2017 at 10:49 am

It is pretty clear that the initial "Wave" started at the Frankfurt School in pre-war Germany with Cultural Marxism. After WW2 it moved to the US and took hold in leftist academia and then flowered among them during the Vietnam movement. In the last 40 years, it has infiltrated and taken over large parts of the education, entertainment, media and government sectors.

Because of the development of societies with large middle classes as well as highly publicized implosions of countries that embraced socialism, the theories of economic Marxism fell out of favor. So the left employed new tactics based on identity politics to separate out grievance groups and build temporary coalitions to seize power.

Where people were uncomfortable with giving a small minority of elitist technocrats the power redistribute wealth, they were more open to the idea that maybe the intelligentsia could re-write social norms and contracts given the civil rights abuses of the past. The grand bargain was to give up freedom and control in return for social justice.

Predictably, once the progressive elites gained power they started dismantling the Bill of Rights and the separation of powers outlined in the constitution. They implemented globalism to enrich themselves and multiculturalism as a way to fragment society and make it easier to create constituencies.

They also developed a version of amplified political correctness with virtue signaling as a way to grant indulgences and penances for excepting themselves from their own dogma. It is also very handy as a distraction from the obvious hypocrisy of stealing wealth while supposedly caring for the masses.

As identity politics has been exposed for what it is (run of the mill thugocracy) and populism has risen up to counter it, the left is shifting gears again. Now we see references to fascism and totalitarianism as scare tactics to bring the populace back under control.

Wondering around the bookstore in Town Square (Books, Inc which is excellent by the way), one finds almost the first 1/3 of the retail space dedicated to topics about surviving Trump and fighting back.

Ironically, it is populated with many of the conservative anthems like 1984, Animal Farm, the road to serfdom and the origins of totalitarianism. I am just not sure if they are intended as therapy, self help or blueprints for the next "Wave."


Posted by astounded, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 17, 2017 at 3:43 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by David, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 17, 2017 at 9:30 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by kimmy, a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2017 at 1:33 pm

I was a student at Gunn when this Third Wave experiment took place, and my cousin was in Ron Jones' class. My cousin was very traumatized by it, and contrary to the article's claims, there was a great deal of discussion going on at the time about this "experiment." A few years later I was at Stanford during Zimbardo's famous prison experiment, which he himself had to shut down because of similar loss of boundaries and increasing hostility to "the prisoners," and a complete willingness to follow the head guard, Zimbardo himself. It is a very good thing to think about the Germans and Hitler at this time, whether or not comparisons can be made specifically. Take a look at what has happened in this country. The millions who followed Trump and still support him even after a disastrous few months display an inability to see the reality of who Trump really is. People always said that " It could never happen here, " and I do believe "it" will not be the same, thanks to the incredible resistance going on to the cruel policies the Republicans are trying to enact, the disastrous climate denial, the international fiascos happening daily, and the huge rise in hate crimes. As a Jew who lost 26 family members in Auschwitz, I thank the PAW for running this story!


Posted by Explain, a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 18, 2017 at 1:45 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Ezplain, a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 18, 2017 at 3:46 pm

Moderator, why was my post removed? I asked for a commenter to give an explanation for their statement. Absolutely nothing against terms.

Please explain


Posted by Load of Baloney, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2017 at 6:16 pm

The Wave that changed the world started at UC Berkeley.

All the Gunn student did was act as ignorant parrots!


Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 18, 2017 at 10:38 pm

" Ironically, it is populated with many of the conservative anthems like 1984, Animal Farm, the road to serfdom and the origins of totalitarianism."

Conservative anthems? Orwell? Well I suppose they could be used as blueprints for right-wing totalitarian regimes, so we are fortunate that Mr. Trump does not read literature. However, The Donald has Bannon, Sessions, Conway, and the Wall Street Swamp at his right hand, so he is definitely not being counseled in the ways of democracy.


Posted by resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 19, 2017 at 8:08 am

[Portion removed.]

Many, many amongst us support Trump. We would love to express this but we can't. The Trump-haters are so vocal and they assume that anti-Trump feelings are unanimous -- this assumption of unanimous anti-Trump sentiment is powered by the mainstream media and propagated all across social media -- it is a massive trend that gains steam and grows exponentially.

However, it does not cause any Trump voters, whether they are diehard or reluctant, to change their minds. We simply remain silent. We cornered, bullied. We have to hide our support for Trump -- or else. We can only express ourselves anonymously on forums such as these... and in the voting booth, with the curtain drawn.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Bully, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 19, 2017 at 8:52 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by Explain, a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 19, 2017 at 9:15 am

PAW, it must be labor intensive sitting on these boards, censoring, making sure alternative views don't get posted. Just more and more fuel for Trump supporters.


Posted by Bully, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 19, 2017 at 9:35 am

@Explain,

My post was explicitly anti-Trump.

He lost the popular vote, is massively unpopular nationwide, and the only thing he's done is funnel money to himself and his cronies.

So the moderators delete posts of all viewpoints.


Posted by TrueEquivalencies, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2017 at 10:05 am

@resident,
"Many, many amongst us support Trump. We would love to express this but we can't. "

I think you will find that if you adopt these key practices, you will find you can express youself. I love having discussions with all people:
Be willing to stick with facts
Be willing to question ultra-rightwing radio and media and use more impartial sources like science and bipartisan organizations
Be willing to consider what the views of the other person actually are, and be willing to have an open mind
Don't just parrot rightwing party talking points.
Don't assume the other person is a straw man liberal (don't assume what the other oerson's virpewpoints are, then argue against those assumptions - I find it's impossible to have a rational discussion with so many rightists because they more often than not, don't seem to be arguing with me or indeed any real person, just their false talk-radio-induced ideas about liberals.
Don't shut down and quit just because the other person is making more sense and chalkenging things you want to believe, son't get angry just because someone disagrees with you. I am happy to debate head to head with anyone who wants to be rational. It's hard to find that on the right these days.
Don't assume the person on the other side doesn't want to espouse fascally conservative ideas - just realize, they are almost certainly thinking about the Republican party of Lincoln and Eisenhower, and not what we have today which is in many ways unrecognizable from the previous.

Many, many of us are Christians who believe in what Jesus taught in the Bible, and feel we must mostly hide it or people incorrectly think we are political rightwing ideologues and assume we hold a host of rigid political views that we don't have and are actually antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. Even though a recent Pew Research study found that only one segment of Christianity, most (but not all) white evangelical churches are large majority republican, but they found a lot of denominations majority democratic, the overt push by rightwing politicians to co-opt the most authoritarian side of the church and claim it represents Christianity, attaching the extreme and often dishonest, anti-common person political views to Christianity, has made it difficult to be open as a Christian lest people close themselves off. I recognize that people aren't aganst the views of Jesus when they learn them (like, you cannot serve both God and money, either you will love the one and despise the other...), but against hateful and ireation, often antithetical to the actual Biblical views, and it's impossible to have those discussions if people assume we are the rigid idelogues most rightwingers come across as in dialog. I would much rather people know me, and be open to knowing I am aChristian once they do. You could try that fir a change, too.


Posted by Sanctimonious City, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 19, 2017 at 12:46 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Explain, a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 19, 2017 at 1:23 pm

@bully, my point was that a clearly liberal media continues to censor information. Regardless which side, the fact they feel they need to control what we say and/or see is exactly what Trump and his supporters are rallying on.

@TrueEquivalencies I for the most part agree with @resident and would say to you this:

@resident,
"Many, many amongst us support Trump. We would love to express this but we can't. "

I think you will find that if you adopt these key practices, you will find concervatices can express themselves. We love having discussions with all people:
Be willing to stick with facts
Be willing to question ultra-left wing radio and media and use more impartial sources like science and bipartisan organizations
Be willing to consider what the views of the other person actually are, and be willing to have an open mind
Don't just parrot left wing party talking points.
Don't assume the other person is a straw man conservative (don't assume what the other oerson's virpewpoints are, then argue against those assumptions - I find it's impossible to have a rational discussion with so many leftists because they more often than not, don't seem to be arguing with me or indeed any real person, just their false talk-radio-induced ideas about conservatives.
Don't shut down and quit just because the other person is making more sense and chalkenging things you want to believe, son't get angry just because someone disagrees with you. I am happy to debate head to head with anyone who wants to be rational. It's hard to find that on the left these days.
Don't assume the person on the other side doesn't want to espouse fascally liberal ideas - just realize, they are almost certainly thinking about the Democratic party of Roosevelt and not what we have today which is in many ways unrecognizable from the previous.

I'm not going to get into the Christian aspect as that's a whole seperate list and discussion and I frankly don't have time.

What @resident was trying to say and what the left continually ignores and cannot seem to understand is that this area is such an incredible bubble and people insist theirs is the only view. I am in no way comfortable speaking my views in even my social circle, for fear of being denigrated and/or labeled a fascist, misogynistic, racist etc.

It's sad. Really sad.


Posted by @Sanctimonious Poster, a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 19, 2017 at 1:35 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by resident, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 19, 2017 at 2:12 pm

^^^ except I was a Democrat and a huge Obama supporter before Trump came along. I am not a pure conservative.

I stopped believing in Obama after the ACA and the Iran deal.

From the day Trump announced, CNN and the rest of the entrenched, monolithic mainstream media covered him in a way that was oddly skewed. The blinders came off. The more Trump was mocked and viciously attacked, the stronger my support for him grew as it became obvious that CNN, etc. were dishonest and their sinister agenda exposed especially when they blew the "Access Hollywood" thing severely out of proportion. That was when my support for Trump went into overdrive.
They jugded him so innacurately and so hatefully, a massive gang up on one man who simply wanted to bring COMMON SENSE and sound fiscal policy into government. So it became personal. When they attack Trump, they attack me. I am not a fan of judgemental people.


Posted by Bully, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 19, 2017 at 3:21 pm

Bully is a registered user.

@Explain

How can you attribute it to liberals when they remove posts from both sides? I know "the media" is a conservative boogeyman, but you're not really providing any evidence of your assertions.

Let's analyze your fear of being called racist or misogynistic. Think about someone who you think is racist or misogynistic. Do you believe they look at their own beliefs and say "Yes, that is racist"? Almost certainly not. Instead, it's been shown that people are quite bad at evaluating their own beliefs. Perhaps you should trust your social circle's evaluation of your beliefs.


Posted by Curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 19, 2017 at 5:44 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Reginanicole, a resident of another community
on May 28, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Reginanicole is a registered user.

I was a Democrat until I felt unsafe speaking my mind. I'm trying to figure out how to write this post so that I won't immediately be written off and a bigoted person who should be dismissed. Here it goes...
I used to be seen as a "good" person. When the LGBT fight was for "civil" unions I was good. When the fight was for "accepting transgender's decision to dress how they want" I was wonderfully accepting. But that changed overnight when I didn't think it was reasonable to completely re-define marriage by getting rid of "bride" and "groom". When I refused to acquiesce that a man can become a woman as a "personal" decision I was told I didn't know the science and didn't understand the facts (therefore stupid and to be ignored). When I thought it is child abuse to medically stop puberty for a child because they thought they were transgender (rather than explaining that sex is biologically determined and you can express dress however you want) I really started be see as a hateful person that doesn't care about the well being of children. My point is, I was demonized or dismissed because I didn't go along with the prescribed program like a "good person". I'm no different than I have always been! Society changed.

The leftist progressives need to do a self-evaluation and become aware of the tactics they are using. As a current dissenter against the left's new "social norms" I think the lessons of the Wave Experiment are alive and well. The tactics are being used through the media, the politicians, and the organized political groups.
Their first tactic is to yell "fascist, homophobe, xenophobe, transphobe, and racist" to anyone who dares disagree. If you don't shut up they will deliberately try to get you fired and ruin your reputation (look up Dr. Jordan Peterson). If that doesn't work then they will promote and enact violence (i.e. punch a Trump supporter and shut down conservative speakers). How quickly can things really go off the rail? What about what happened during the Arab Spring? Maybe it really doesn't take much to make the leap into the unthinkable?

So, I hope everyone wakes up and comes back to the middle before either the extreme left or the extreme right take us down into a living hell.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


To post your comment, please login or register at the top of the page. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

 

Save $5 when you register by Monday, July 24

Registration is now open for the 33rd annual Palo Alto Weekly Moonlight Run and Walk. This family-friendly event which benefits local nonprofits serving kids and families will take place on Friday, Oct. 6 at the Palo Alto Baylands.

Register Here