On inviting your enemies to talk

It’s good to see Daryl Davis carrying on in the brave and honorable tradition of Ann Atwater.

Davis, a black musician, has made a project of befriending Ku Klux Klan members and persuading them to leave the group. He collects the robes and hoods of those who do.

“A lot of people have anti-racist groups. They get together and meet and have a diverse group and all they do and sit around and talk about how bad discrimination is. Then someone says ‘there’s a Klan group across town. Why don’t we invite them to come and talk to us?’ and the other person says ‘Oh no! We don’t want that guy here!’ Well, you’re doing the exact same thing they are. What’s the purpose of meeting with each other when we already agree? Find someone who disagrees and invite them to your table.

“Invite your enemy to talk. Give them a platform to talk because then they will reciprocate. Invite your enemies to sit down and join you. You never know; some small thing you say might give them food for thought, and you will learn from them. Establish dialogue. It’s when the talking stops that the ground becomes fertile for fighting.”

Yes, it sounds hopelessly naive. But whaddayaknow? Sometimes it works.