Often I’ll see people say ‘oh don’t bother engaging with the bigots, they’re too __ to understand’. Sure, there are many out there who just say bigoted crap to get a rise out of people. But there are many who come from a place of ignorance and genuinely don’t actually understand all the nuances.
Staying silent when people blatantly misrepresent does nothing to reduce ignorance, event though it is often the safer option. For example, the old line that all Israelis should go back to Europe shows complete ignorance about the >750000 Jews kicked out of their countries when Israel was formed. Iraqi Jews who had been in their countries since Babylon, Moroccan Jews who fled the Inquisition, lots of non-Jews know nothing about this.
There will always be a few watching your response who are less rabid, more willing to accept new information. These people are the ones who we can help educate. With understanding hate has a harder time taking root.
Even those who are overt bigots can be swayed, just look at some of the fascinating stories of ex-white supremacists. Often they are coming from a place of disillusionment, poverty or insecurity, and understanding them can help achieve תיקון עולם.
‘Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.’ – Elie Wiesel.