June 16, 2016

Bigotry


Today, I'm going to preach a little.

Politicians, activists, scholars, and all the rest of us are very fond of throwing around words we don't really understand. It is very easy for us to divide the world into a small number of distinct boxes, give each box a label, then mark it as "ally" or "enemy". We do this because millions of years ago we wandered the surface of a very dangerous planet in very small groups. Not only were we the favorite prey of every nightmare with teeth and claws, we were also the favorite prey of one another. Did you ever wonder why the vast majority of Australopithecus we find hidden in the darkest corners of our world are female? Did you ever wonder why most of them are retrieved from strata associated with lake beds or river bottoms? Apparently, we have been murdering each other for as long as we have been different from every other ape in existence. It also appears we have been using the same techniques to hide the bodies: we weight them down and sink them in water.

So let me set the record straight: you are a bigot. You are a bigot because being a bigot insured the survival of your ancestors. It is hardwired into your DNA. We are all bigots. We individually choose different targets for hatred, distrust, and jealousy, but it does not matter which particular target you are focused on. One simple fact of being human is that every single day of your life you dump people into an imaginary category and then draw assumptions about their internal landscape based on the category you, yourself created for them. I don't care how openminded you believe yourself to be, if you assume someone who disagrees with you is simply wrong then you are a bigot. You have always been a bigot. You will always be a bigot. Accept it and get used to it.

So who is it you mistrust, hate, or envy? Christians? Muslims? Bankers? Gays? Straights? Blacks? Whites? Asians? Politicians? Which category of humanity do you hold in utter contempt, refuse to accept as normal, and seek ways to defeat or avoid? As long as you think of them as a distinct category with identical behaviors then you are a bigot. Do you believe all bankers are rich, greedy, and always on the lookout for ways to deprive you from your hard-earned cash? That is bigotry. Do you believe all heterosexual men are potential rapists who cannot be trusted alone with your spouse, with your female friends, or with your daughter? That is bigotry. Do you believe all lesbians dream of having their own penis, are jealous of men, hate men, and are looking for ways to destroy men? That is bigotry. Any time you lump people together as "rednecks", "racists", "liberals", "fags", "cismales", "lunatics", "psycho-bitches", "deadbeat dads", "loser moms", so forth and so on, you are practicing your very own, individual brand of bigotry. So before you scream at someone else and call them a bigot, make sure you take a long, hard look in a mirror because I can promise you this much: there is definitely an unrecognized bigot living inside you. It is part and parcel of being human. Whoever you are, if you are reading this then you are most certainly human.

There is, however, something you can do. You can learn to recognize your own bigotry. You can tame it, manage it, and refuse to accept the assumptions it feeds you. First you must identify your particular brand of bigotry. Being honest with yourself is the first step and nothing will change until you take that step. Once you have figured out what your particular brand of bigotry is, teach yourself to watch for it.

Let me give you an example of my own. I distrust and generally despise men who spend their every waking hour looking for ways to demonstrate their masculinity. My assumption is that every macho man is secretly (and sometimes openly) homosexual with a high potential for raping both young boys and young women. My assumption is they will exploit the first sign of weakness they encounter and I will have to be prepared to defend someone weaker against their predation. Any man who slams his beer on the bar, who insults women, who speaks of women as if sex is their only value, who "fucks" but never loves and then accuses other men of being "pussy-whipped", raises a storm of red flags in my mind. Every tough guy is potentially a dangerous deviant that I am going to be forced to put down in order to protect someone I love. This is the bigotry that works in me every single day of my life. This bigotry formed in my childhood for a number of very valid reasons, but it is still unjustifiable and destructive. I have to force my mind to overlook those red flags, listen to what one of these men is saying, pay attention to how they are actually living their life, and consciously seek out the positive aspects of their personality. This is a huge emotional and mental burden. As a result, if I don't watch my own mind closely I will find myself completely dismissing certain men and assuming they are dangerous felons who need to be eliminated before they cause irreparable damage. This bigotry of mine is also one of the reasons I love cop shows so much.

The flipside of this bigotry is I am drawn to weakness. If I perceive weakness in someone my first instinct is to guard and protect them. In my relationships I tend to always be focused on looking for ways to help the people around me become stronger, more self-sufficient, and better able to protect themselves. This side of my bigotry is clearly visible in almost every post I have ever made to this blog, and will remain easily discernible in every post I make in the future. It is part and parcel of who I am. In my own life, I consciously look for ways to replace the darker side of my personal bigotry with the better side. It is difficult, and requires enormous emotional effort, but I force myself to look for the good in men my mind wants to label as dangerous and find ways to move them into the ally category in full defiance of my heart's desire to completely dismiss them.

Most people who read this are now asking themselves why I wrote it, or even more scandalous, why am I posting it to the internet where every living soul with a computer or smartphone can read it? I am writing this post because bigotry is destroying our world. The internet has made it possible for everyone to throw their opinions out into the wilds of cyberspace, gather allies, and declare war on their personal enemy categories. Social media written by LGBT advocates seethes with hatred of traditional gender roles along with anyone whose lifestyle is based on traditional gender roles. In the name of "diversity" and "openmindedness" they condemn, criticize, ridicule, and seek to humiliate anyone who is not a member of the LGBT community. Young children who are straight wonder if being straight is inherently evil while young children who are not straight wonder if being queer makes them hated by everyone who is straight. Battle lines are drawn. Suddenly, 49 dead and 53 wounded in a vicious mass murder become the rallying cry for some of the most insane political posturing I have ever seen in my life. Black children are taught to fear cops because cops are looking to murder them while white children are taught to fear black children because they are worthless gangsters from broken homes. Young people in their twenties honestly believe the world is composed of warring camps. They believe in the very core of their humanity that they must choose to join one camp, and only one camp, in order to have allies that will protect them from everyone else. Many of our nation's children are emotionally scarred for life simply because their parents, their school teachers, their church leaders, and their neighbors spoke out in daily rants filled with vicious hatred of imaginary social categories. Growing up surrounded by this chaos leaves the child afraid to develop their own individual identity. They fear more than anything else that if they make a few wrong choices they will wind up the enemy of everyone they love. We are destroying future generations by insisting that our world divide itself into all of these thousands upon thousands of warring camps that simply cannot accept one another as human.

This must stop, and it must stop now. Sadly, even if it does stop, it might be too late. There is no telling how many young people will mature into working, voting adults who cannot think objectively. We might even have already arrived at a point where "objective" thinking itself is assumed to be insane and delusional. Our culture might have already passed so far down this road that it has become "sane" and "normal" to divide everyone into enemy camps. This is clearly seen in the way that whichever camp happens to currently control the political and legal infrastructure of our world now feels they have a sacred duty to create legal frameworks designed to imprison or limit everyone who expresses dissent. When bigotry becomes culture it is fascism. We all know where fascism leads.

I say, "This must stop, and it must stop now," but I fear with every fiber of my being that it is already too late.




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