Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Prejudice and Bigotry

Prejudice is the assumption that all members of a group are the same.

In primitive times it was wise for humans to assume that all wolves, bears, and panthers were dangerous. If someone got sick or died after eating a certain plant it was sensible of everyone else to believe all plants like that were poisonous. Even if the assumptions weren’t completely accurate, they helped people survive.

Bigotry is a negative assumption about a group of humans.

In past centuries most people never traveled more than 20 miles from their homes and it was normal for them to be uncomfortable around others who looked and sounded different from those in their own communities. Often they only encountered different people in times of war. It was understandable that they became bigoted.

In the 1960s and 70s we worked hard to eliminate prejudice against people based on their race, religion, sex, or national origin and the Americans with Disabilities act made prejudice against others with special needs less likely as we became more familiar with those people. While the problem hasn’t disappeared completely, bigotry is a lot less common now - except for one kind.

Political party bigotry has become rampant, and the people with the most power in our country are working to encourage it.

Thousands, if not millions, of Americans now believe all Democrats want to undermine the basic moral values of our culture. Probably about the same number think all Republicans are either ignorant rednecks or selfish rich people.

In the English language we use the word, “wrong” to mean both inaccurate and immoral. Because someone’s beliefs are innacurate doesn’t necessarily mean they are immoral, although they might be.

In my humble opinion it is both inaccurate and immoral to encourage bigotry against people because of their political beliefs, and completely immoral for politicians, journalists, and others to encourage political bigotry.

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