Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"You shall not follow the masses in doing evil."




     Bigotry is bad but not for the reason people assume — or not just for that reason. It isn't bad merely because innocent people are harmed by the irrational hatreds carried around by the prejudiced and by the random cruelties those hatreds inspire.
     Bigotry also harms the bigot, since it is a form of ignorance, a misapprehension of the world. They see not what is in front of them, but what is in front of them filtered through the distorting lens of the disdain they grew up with or slid into. Their world is colored not by what's before their eyes but by the jumbled mess behind them.
     So they make mistakes.
     For instance: eliminating the DREAM Act, which President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to do on his first day as president — Jan. 21, for those keeping track. That would keep up to 5 million young Americans off the path to success, in school and employment, for a very Third Reich reason: because their papers aren't in order. It will, of course, hurt them, making their lives harder, more complicated, more anxious. It would also hurt the country. A country which, contrary to the bigot's skewed perspective, is not burdened by foreigners but benefits from them. A country that needs every capable person it can get its hands on. Otherwise we end up like Japan, in a demographic death spiral.
     Cutting off your nose to spite your face is a hallmark of bigots. The classic example is after courts ordered public pools integrated in the 1960s, Southern towns closed their pools, even filling them in with dirt rather than risk whatever horror was supposed to come from letting blacks into the pool — interracial dating, I suppose.
     That's the bad news. The good news, if any news can be considered good in this perilous moment of our national saga, is that, because of their myopia, bigots screw up and overlook important considerations....


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15 comments:

  1. I take it as given that most, if not all, your readers will shout out a fervent "Amen" to the prayer contained in your column today, but I'm puzzled and intrigued by the photo. Is it something we should recognize? The work of some world-renowned photographer? The look on the woman's (it is a woman, isn't it?) face makes it seem to me that eating the ice cream is something of a chore for her. And in light of the empty dish and no chair accross from her: is it her second helping? The Enquirer and the TV Guide -- should we take her to be one of the evil masses? And then also, the table looks like one you'd find in a restaurant, whereas the window seems more like a home. Her dress, her figure, the chubby legs ending in men's shoes and socks -- obviously she's not sexy or refined and certainly not rich, but not necessarily poor either. Again, the photo is a puzzlement to me and perhaps to others as well.

    john

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    1. The picture is of Duane Hansons Woman Eating in the Smithsonian. Something about class and consumerism is the point I think.

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    2. It just seemed apt, or close enough to apt.

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  2. Works for me.

    Thought I'd ask on the off chance that you'd taken the photo yourself.

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    1. I did take the photo myself -- at the Smithsonian, of Duane Hanson's artwork.

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  3. big·ot·ry
    ˈbiɡətrē/
    noun
    intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.
    "the difficulties of combating prejudice and bigotry"

    we are all bigots .

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    1. Are you just being disingenuous or do you really believe that? If you think blacks are inferior and shouldn't be taught to read, and I think you're wrong, we're both equally bigots? Tell me you aren't that far gone...

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    2. I think this dedfinition is more apt -
      bigot: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

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  4. Interesting photo. Initially I was trying to put it in the context of the (excellent) column, not sure if I appreciated it. (I felt kind of sorry for the woman), but it sure drew my attention. Great artwork by Duane Hanson.

    SandyK

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  5. One of your points was made nicely by an early defender of our liberties. Mr. Madison wrote "Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity in exclusion of all other religions may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christianity in exclusion of all other sects."

    And his friend and neighbor, Mr. Jefferson: "In every country and in every age the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own."

    And a famous visitor, Monsieur de Tocqueville observed: "The effect of the tyranny of the majority in America is to trace a formidable circle around thought."

    Tom Evans

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  6. If anyone tried to use religion in the way Neil is suggesting, the new powers that be will probably set up some sort of review board to inquire as to the sincerity of people's religious beliefs.

    I wonder what you could call a board like that...maybe some name that is based on the word "inquire"?

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    1. No one would expect it coming. Sorry, couldn't resist.

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    2. And if they fail in their sincerity, and verge into heresy, then tie them to the rack!

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    3. "The Inquisition" is taken. I like "Faith Finders" myself. "Satan Sifters" might ring a bell or two as well. And "Committee to Ratify the Belief Systems of Mentally Flawed Individuals" gives away the game, but at a certain point, which we may have already reached for all I know, camouflage becomes superfluous.

      John

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  7. All we need is John Cleese in a red vestment and biretta.

    TE

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