Monday, January 12, 2009

The Myth of Bigotry

When did it become almost impossible to disagree with an individual, a group, or a government without being labeled a bigot?

Many of those who didn't support Hillary in the 2008 election (or later, for Secretary of State) were labeled "sexist." Question whether we want a man named to the Senate by a potential criminal, and you just may be a "racist." Disagree with anything Israel has ever done, and you're obviously "anti-Semitic."

Can I call bullshit, now?

In the same way as some on the right trivialize the awful acts of Stalin & some on the left trivialize the awful acts of Hitler by carelessly using the terms "Stalinist" & "Nazi" to describe the parties & people with which they don't agree politically, this intentional and foolish misuse of the terms of bigotry trivializes real gender, racial, & religious bigotry and those who suffered under them.

Yes, just as there are still real Nazis, there are real sexists, racists, and anti-Semites, and yes, I've little doubt that a few (at least) were/are opposed to Hillary, Roland Burris, and Israel's recent actions in Gaza. But there are also many reasonable, intelligent people who're opposed to these same people or activities for reasons that have nothing to do with gender, race, or religion, and it's a pretty safe bet that these folks, whether right or wrong on the issue itself, far outnumber the bigots.

Don't be fooled by those who so easily play the bigotry card. They are cowering behind these hateful terms in an effort to avoid having to make a substantive argument, trying to shame you away from your well-thought-out position (unless you actually are a bigot, of course), and in the process, trivializing those who really have suffered from religious, racial or gender bigotry. It's a cheap trick, and those who choose to engage in it are generally just as aware of it as you & I.


(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Good post. I don't know if you were following The "Call to Dunkirk" controversy discussed at the Zone.
Two articles:
"Done, Finished, Out'a Here"
"The New Leper Colony: For Women Only"

Reading between the lines, there is bigotry, homophobia, sexism, and a decided anti-liberal bias that conjures up these regrettable tropes. There will be a third article later this week that will discuss the "Balkinization" of America via clustering ... how the country is rapidly dividing into factions based on self-identity. It all ties in.

repsac3 said...

I follow everything that goes on at the Zone, of course... 8>) (& I'm here to say, I feel lingually inferior to all of ya...)

The whole "Call to Dunkirk thing (as examined in your “DONE, FINISHED, OUT’A HERE …” post at the Zone) is just another example of the same foolish labeling & name-calling. Once you put "them" (whoever "they" may be) in a hateful class, it becomes easy to dehumanize & dismiss them, rather than having to treat them as fellow human beings with real ideas & ideals.

Anyone can do it, and individuals from all across the political & social spectrums do. Whether through self-selection or labeling from without, this tendency to identify ourselves with a particular group & "them" as part of another group is a part of the problem, in my humble... It makes us identify with the best on "our" side (failing to see those among us who misbehave or otherwise don't live up to "our" values) & to treat every individual one of "them" as being just as bad as the worst on their side (failing to recognize that no group is monolithic, and there can be--& generally is--good among those with whom we disagree.)

If I could change one thing about people, it would be to have them judge people as individuals, rather than as members of these various groups. Assholes are assholes because they are assholes, not because they are a particular gender, or race, or belong to a particular religion or political party. The same goes for the stars among us... People are who they are because of who they are, not because of the groups we, fate, or they, themselves put them into...

And my point is, if I call someone an ass or a friend, it isn't because they are black/white, male/female, Jewish/atheist/Christian/Wiccan or Republican/Democrat/Conservative/Green. It's because they are who they are...

rockync said...

I am equally offended by the insinuation that I voted for Obama because he is black or half-black or whatever.
Being a white, college educated female, it just riles me that some pinhead right wingnut that can't form a proper sentence thinks he/she has the right to access and pass judgement on my choices and how I arrived at them!
Someone pinch me - I want to make sure we are REALLY in the 21st century and that I'm not just sleeping in the 1940s!