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What If Nobody Attended Your Rally?


In response to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017, movie star Arnnold Schwarzenegger recorded the video below.  It's worth showing the video to your class.


  • Schwarzenegger suggests that Neo-nazis are misguided and should go home. Do you think some of them will be persuaded to do so if they watch this video?
  • Schwarzenegger states that he donated to the Simon Wiesenthal Center and he asks people to donate to their favorite anti-hate organization. Do you thik people might donate as a result of watching this video?
  • Schwarzenegger suggests that if we do nothing it would be similar to having cancer and doing nothing with the hope that it would go away.

What kind of action will be effective in changing the attitudes of white supremicists?




Social psychologists would most likely suggest that the best way to respond to the rally would be to:


  1. demonstrate without saying a word and hold signs that have pictures of the many who died during the nazi regime.  Arguing and fighting with the protestors will only back them further into their own current beliefs ("Backfire Effect"). A behaviorist would also state that NOT reinforcing the protestors with attention should decrease the behavior. That's not likely to happen since the media will probably always give them coverage.  But what if the media ignored them?
  2.  work together on an equal status basis to accomplish the same larger goal. The "Cobber's Cave" study taught us this powerful lesson: to get opposing groups to break down their barriers we must get them to work together toward a mutually beneficial goal.  That's going to be tough however, when these groups have so powefully separated themselves from our diverse culture.

The most powerful part of Schwarzenegger's message? That it was Schwarzenegger who gave it.  


Many people like him and watching the video might induce some level of Cognitive Dissonance among those who support hate groups. There are probably a lot of Nazi marchers who like and respect Schwarzenegger.  Seeing him make these remarks will probably give them a moment to reflect.  Let's hope so.