Sunday, October 12, 2014
Can prejudice ever be eliminated?
The story below is the standard one among Leftist social scientists. It is very one-eyed however. For a start it claims that prejudiced attitudes are highly general, when they are not. Critics of Jews, for instance, are often not critical of blacks etc. See e.g. here And what one might call positive bigotry (patriotism) is regularly shown to be unrelated to negative bigotry (dislike of other groups). That alone shoots down most Leftist theories -- which usually claim that bigotry is caused by (or at least associated with) high regard for the ingroup. That holds true among psychology student samples but not among general population samples. In a representative sample of London people , for instance, the correlation between patriotism and attitude to West Indians (negroes) was found to be .18, which was not statistically significant
There is however perhaps some substance to Bronner's claim that bigotry is more frequent among conservatives. But the reason for that is that Leftists skip right past bigotry and land straight on hate. Leftism in fact seems to be founded on hate. Their constant rage hardly permits of any other explanation. ALL conservatives bloggers know what sort of comments and emails we get from Leftists. It is extreme abuse with rationality conspicuous by its absence. Everybody dislikes somebody or some class of people and Leftists froth with such dislikes. Yancey has documented the almost insane hate that Leftists pour out at Christians
But what Leftists hate most, of course, is their own country. Harvard University students recently declared America as a bigger threat to world peace than the Islamic State. And they were not alone in that declaration. And Obama has done more damage to America's prosperity, power and prestige than any foreign enemy ever accomplished.
And one has to laugh at Bronner's claim that bigots are "reacting against modernity". Greenies anyone? Greenies are undoubtedly the main fountain of reaction against modernity in our society. And since Greenies and Leftists go hand in glove it seems obvious from which side of politics most bigotry comes. Bronner is amusing at times.
And who else was it that deplored modernity and glorified a romanticized rural past? It was the National Socialist German Workers' Party, better known as the Nazis. And they were socialist in deed as well as in name -- with their policies of regulating and controlling everything in Germany. Hitler was only to the Right of Stalin -- in that Germans were allowed somewhat more personal freedom -- but he was to the Left of everyone else. It is amusing therefore that the Communist perspective -- of Hitler being "Right wing" -- has become the conventional wisdom among those who know no history: A great tribute to decades of relentless Soviet disinformation and infiltration.
I could go on but I think I have said enough to show that the claims below are all tired old Leftist boilerplate with the usual Leftist lack of reality contact
Stephen Eric Bronner, the author of "The Bigot", discusses the defining features of bigotry and how it can be tackled.
What is a bigot? The dictionary definition is "a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people or ideas", but how are these hatreds manifested in everyday life, how do they change over time, and what do they say about society? The question of how to define bigotry is explored in a new book by Stephen Eric Bronner, a Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University. The Bigot: Why Prejudice Persists analyses bigotry as a systematic, all-encompassing mindset, and concludes that it has a special affinity for right-wing movements. Here, Bronner discusses his findings.
Can you generalize about prejudice?
Much has been written about prejudice and bigotry, and the different ways in which they express themselves - anti-Semitism or sexism or racism. But there is very little that has been done that brings them together. That's important because it's very rare that a bigot is only prejudiced against one group. The Nazis, for example, had a hierarchy of groups that they hated. Policies against people of color, against women, against gays, usually go together in an overriding agenda.
What are the defining features of bigotry?
There are certain common features. The bigot uses stereotypes and myths, and particular experiences which are then universalized. All of this rests on a basic fear of modernity that threatens the privileges that the bigot feels he has or had. So the bigot is basically concerned with resisting globalization and modernity. Whatever his primary target of hatred, he is opposed to diversity, opposed to a multicultural outlook, opposed to social and economic equality, opposed to political democracy, and usually opposed to a cosmopolitan secular view. I think that's true for all forms of bigotry.
You're positing bigotry as a fear of modernity. Can you be a left-wing or secular bigot?
Oh sure. Anyone can be a bigot historically. That's just obviously true. Whether one looks at the Enlightenment or the labor movement or new social movements, blacks can be racists, Jews can act like anti-Semites, and women can act as sexists. However, if one simply says "bigotry is part of human nature, there's not much you can do about it", one doesn't get anywhere. The question then becomes which groups tend to be more attracted to prejudice. It's true that not every conservative is a bigot. It's also true that bigotry has a particular affinity with conservative and reactionary movements, and I think that's empirically true both historically and sociologically.
You say in the book that bigotry is driven more by self-pity than hatred.
Or, at least driven as much by self-pity as hatred. The bigot tends to believe that he is being unfairly treated. For example, many reactionaries in the US don't believe they are being bigoted against people of color, but that people of colour are bigoted against them. The power relation and existence of privilege gets erased. The bigot usually tries to justify this - the person of prejudice is drawn to conspiracy. Something is working behind the scenes: the invisible hand of Jews, or bankers, or Jews and bankers. We can keep adding to the list. Obviously conspiracies sometimes take place. But for the bigot, the entire world is defined by conspiracies. The further along the spectrum one goes to fanaticism, the more intense the preoccupation with conspiracy.
Why is that?
The bigot, in reacting against modernity, tends to create an imagined community that was the best of all possible worlds. In that community, the bigot and his predecessors retain their privileges. Women are in the kitchen, gays are in the closet and people of colour at best perform menial tasks. The key is that in the vision of the bigot, this is what these groups are naturally created to do. They like it. So how does one explain when these groups mobilize against the prejudiced political and social system? There's really only one answer to this: somebody is riling them up from the outside. For example, in the south, during the civil rights movement, it was common parlance for southern reactionaries to say "we know what our negroes want, they are happy with the way things are, and it's those Yankees coming from up north who are causing trouble and riling them up". This is a very common situation. It could be the intellectual, it could be the foreigner, it could be the religious heretic, the Jew. There is always somebody from the outside destroying the organic community which, for the bigot, is the best of all possible worlds.
Why do certain groups consistently become the target of prejudice?
This is purely a matter of expediency. Imagine a religious universe dominated by Christians in Europe. The primary target of hatred will be Jews and perhaps Muslims, because they challenge the absolutism of the Christian belief. One of the defining criteria for targets of prejudice is a group that's visible but without power. But bigotry is not about the target of prejudice; it's about the psychology of the bigot, and the historical circumstances in which he finds himself.
The term "bigot" is generally understood as an insult. Does that make it difficult to have a public discussion about the views you describe?
Oh very difficult. We are in a situation today where the bigot is on the defensive, or in other words, progress has actually been made. Nobody likes to identify himself or herself as a bigot, soo the language and the style change. The goose-stepping stops, the swastika is out of fashion, explicitly racist books no longer make it in the established mainstream. So the bigot adapts to this situation and he or she supports policies that disadvantage the old targets of his hatred, whether it's people of color, or women, or gays. But there will be a justification for those policies: I'm preserving liberty by opposing the welfare state, I'm preserving moral values by opposing gay marriage, I am preserving fair elections by introducing voting restrictions. The bigot becomes very elusive. We have to change our focus and look at what the bigot does rather than what he says. Particular individual racist acts still occur obviously, but to simply remain at that level obscures what's really going on.
How can bigotry be tackled?
The idea that we can simply eliminate prejudice is utopian. There are too many wounds, too many habits, too many superstitions, too many stereotypes inherited from the past. What can be done, though, is to marginalize prejudice. That's already been done to a certain degree. My suggestion is a multi-frontal approach. It's a cultural offensive that privileges values of tolerance. It's a political approach that highlights the need for the inclusion of previously excluded groups into the public sphere. It's also socioeconomic, so that excluded and disadvantaged groups have the wherewithal to actually participate in society. There's one other element - one has to be open to the new. Some of the groups that will express their grievances tomorrow aren't necessarily seen today. If you think back 30 or 40 years, most people didn't know about transgendered people, or perhaps even the possibility for transgendered lives. But in the last decade or so that has changed. We have to be open to the possibility that other groups are going to come out in the future even if we don't see them today.
Are you optimistic that the battle against prejudice will be won?
To make progress on the economic front doesn't necessarily mean one is making progress on the political front; and progress on the political front it doesn't necessarily mean progress on the cultural or ideological front. That's why we have to be cognizant of all of these different factors. It's a complicated matter. But I think there's hope. Changes have been made that are positive, and there is at least the open possibility for continuing to make them in the future. At the same time, every reform that was achieved in the past can be rolled back in the future.
The British people have spoken. In Nigel Farage they have found a spokesman to tell the politically correct politicians what they want
David Cameron and Ed Miliband are being told to ‘wake up’ to public anger over uncontrolled migration following Ukip’s stunning by-election advances.
Nigel Farage’s party caused a political earthquake by seizing one Tory safe seat and coming within a few hundred votes of taking another from Labour.
Conservative MPs warned the Prime Minister that he must now harden his stance on free movement within the European Union.
There have been calls for David Cameron to break up the coalition early and make a pact with Ukip at the next election, while Jack Straw told Ed Miliband he has a 'lot more' to do
Frank Field, another Labour ex-minister, warned the party’s core vote had been so neglected that even supposedly safe seats could be lost next May.
On a day of extraordinary political drama:
Mr Miliband was ridiculed for refusing to give interviews or talk to locals – after speaking about the need to reconnect with voters;
Mr Farage suggested that Ukip would refuse coalition with either Tories or Labour if it won a string of MPs next year;
The Lib Dems were humiliated, with the lowest share of the vote for any major party in an English by-election since 1948;
Controversy raged about Mr Farage’s call to ban migrants with HIV – a call his new MP Douglas Carswell refused to back.
Early yesterday, Mr Carswell, who defected from the Tories over the summer, became Ukip’s first elected MP, cruising to victory in Clacton, Essex, with nearly 60 per cent of the vote.
His majority of 12,404 was higher than he achieved as a Tory in 2010, with the Conservatives in second on 8,709 votes, Labour in third and the Greens pushing the Lib Dems into fifth.
In Heywood and Middleton, Labour suffered embarrassment when, after a recount, Ukip came within 617 votes of defeating its candidate Liz McInnes.
Mr Farage, who celebrated the results by staying out drinking until 4.45am, declared Ukip was now a national party. ‘We could find ourselves next May in a position where we hold the balance of power,’ he claimed.
Mr Cameron said the general election would be the most important in a generation. ‘If you see a big Ukip vote, what you will end up with is Ed Miliband as PM, Ed Balls as Chancellor, Labour in power,’ the Prime Minister said.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, increasingly tipped as a replacement for Mr Miliband, insisted the results had not been a ‘disaster’ for Labour.
But he added: ‘There is more we need to do to listen to people who are voting Ukip, particularly on immigration. I can’t defend on the doorstep, and actually I haven’t tried, the sending back of benefits to people who come to work here.
‘It doesn’t meet most people’s test of basic fairness, you know, that you haven’t contributed but then you can take out.’
Veteran MP Sir Edward Leigh said Mr Cameron should collapse the coalition with the Lib Dems and set out clearer ‘red lines’ for a proposed renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the EU.
Which Came First, the Racism or the Tension?
Ever since the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, this summer, tensions have been high in the St. Louis suburb. Protests and even some arrests continue. And according to The Washington Post, it’s forcing the city’s whites to confront racial tension they never knew was there: “They have discovered that blacks and whites here profoundly disagree about the existence of racism and the fairness of the justice system. And now, whites who once believed their town was an exception in a country struggling with racial divisions have to confront the possibility it is not.”
Is it possible that racism has been bubbling under the surface, completely unbeknownst to white residents until a white police officer shot a black teen thug? Perhaps, but doubtful. Because instead of rationally handling the situation, professional race hustlers like Al Sharpton fomented racism among blacks to perpetuate the need for their own services.
Now, the city faces even more chaos if Officer Darren Wilson is not charged in Brown’s death. To top it off, there is more rioting because, on Wednesday, another white police officer shot and killed an armed black teen thug.
Confronting PC: Some Will Financially and Politically Die
I caught a bit of an interview with conservative actor Kevin Sorbo promoting his movie, "God's Not Dead" on the Sean Hannity radio show. Sorbo lamented that political correctness operatives continue to bully Americans with little push back. He cited a recent incident in which a little girl was kicked out of school for saying "God bless you" when a classmate sneezed, punished for religious talk in school.
My wife Mary told me about a U.S. soldier who was told by a school never to walk his child to school in uniform again. I am sure all of you could share horror stories of political correctness operatives overruling common sense and bullying people into submission.
Admittedly, I continuously rant about this topic. Folks, while I have evolved into somewhat of a sophisticated responsible adult, my roots are in the hood, the projects of east Baltimore. Living in that extremely tough environment, I knew if you did not deal with (confront) bullies, you would forever be their chump. As a 9 or 10 year old, I detested watching bullies push people around. I still detest seeing snooty intellectual liberal wimps with their big microphones and big stages get away with terrorizing people into submission.
When we were kids, though he was a little wild and crazy, my cousin Jimmy taught me the value of a strong military and how to deal with bullies. Two kids were taking my lunch money. Jimmy got in their grills and threatened to kick their butts. That was the end of that nonsense.
Six foot something high school varsity football star Broadus ordered me out of my seat beside pretty Barbara Jean on the school bus. Had he asked, I would have given him my seat. Even as a four foot something tall seventh grader, I instinctively knew I would lose something inside if I allowed Broadus to order me around. I told him no, I was not moving.
Once off the bus, Broadus began pounding my head into the gravel road. My mom saw the attack from a block away. She began running, but said it felt like she was running in place, unable to get to us fast enough. Incredibly, Broadus and I later became friends.
So yes, I have this "thing" about bullies.
Liberals, Democrats and the complicit MSM have hijacked the word "bully" to exclusively refer to anyone who dares to push back against their aggressive attempts to force their socialist/progressive agenda down our throats. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, Leftists call us bullies when we reject allowing them to bully us. Very clever, insidious and evil.
I worked at a major ABC affiliate TV station in Baltimore for 15 years. Thus, I have witnessed from the inside the MSM arrogant superior mindset which dominated the TV station and their intention to force their agenda on the public. The general consensus at the TV station was that the public was a bunch of yahoos and we were the sophisticated smart guys.
The TV station launched a campaign titled, "Family First". On the cover of the brochure, I used a silhouette of a traditional family holding hands; father, mother, a girl and a boy. Public Relations axed my cover design claiming it was insensitive and offensive because families come in all configurations, two men, two women and so on. There was no agenda behind me selecting the image other than it worked for the theme of the campaign. I seriously doubted that the image of a traditional family on the cover of the station's brochure would have sparked mass outrage from the public.
And yet, the PR representative acted as though I was attempting to push my Christian values on the public. She used her authority to bully me into changing the cover design. I later learned that she was a lesbian.
Folks, I realize that I sound like a broken record continuing to write about the Left bullying us into submission. It just sticks in my craw. Allowing them to get away with it is an anathema to my spirit; like allowing Broadus to order me out of my seat. We must push back. We must say no.
In the Clint Eastwood movie, "Pale Rider", the locals were terrorized by bullies. They asked a mysterious stranger portrayed by Eastwood to lead them into battle against the bad guys. Eastwood consented, but also informed the locals that some of them were going to die tomorrow.
Make no mistake about it folks, confronting evil, pushing back against political correctness operatives is serious business. Our Nemesis are extremely vicious and relentless. They take no prisoners. Just as Eastwood warned the locals, I warn you. In the battle to take back our freedom, some will sacrifice themselves for freedom. They will financially and politically die.
Brave U.S. troops who have made the ultimate sacrifice have shown us that freedom "ain't" free. Are the fruits of freedom, self-respect and dignity, worth it? Absolutely.
Political Correctness is a horrible destructive cancer eating away at the core of our American culture. The miracle cure is courage.
Should We Silence Those Who Monitor Anti-Semitism on Campus?
Virtually every university or college allows its students to rate their professors and the results of these surveys are usually published. Their contents are always of debatable quality but give incoming students a rough idea of what they are up against when they choose teachers and their courses. The prevailing principle of caveat emptor is generally accepted if not always enjoyed by the faculty. Yet the publication of a guide that attempts to give students and their families an idea about whether college faculty and courses are engaging in and/or supporting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity in the classroom appears to have aroused the ire of an influential group of Jewish academics.
As the Forward reports today, 50 North American Jewish Studies professors have signed a joint letter denouncing the work of the AMCHA Initiative. AMCHA is a Jewish campus-monitoring group that seeks to expose those academics that support boycott initiatives against Israel or who otherwise engage in anti-Semitic activity. It then publishes this information on its website. Those students who wish to avoid being trapped in such classrooms and donors to academia can draw their own conclusions from AMCHA's writings.
AMCHA's existence can be credited largely to the fact that over the past few decades, Middle Eastern studies in this country has become largely the preserve of scholars who not only espouse anti-Zionist views but who use their academic perches to both propagate their ideology and to intimidate students who dare to disagree. This activity often crosses the boundary between academic debate into open anti-Semitism and has encouraged the growth of groups on campus that seek to silence or intimidate pro-Israel and Jewish students. At a time when attacks on such students are becoming more commonplace and pro-Israel views are struggling to be heard in academia, it would seem as if the least the Jewish community could do is to arm its young people for this struggle. Families deserve information about what is happening in such programs and what exactly is being shoved down their children's throats. The same applies to those who are asked to fund such programs.
But to the group of Jewish studies professors who signed the letter attacking AMCHA, this sort of effort is nothing less than an attempt to start a new academic boycott of critics of Israel that is no less contemptible than those that seek to isolate Israelis. They believe AMCHA's efforts stifle academic freedom. They also contend that the definition of anti-Semitic activity used by AMCHA is so broad as to be meaningless. Are they right?
Let's concede that any debate about what is being taught on campuses must be conducted in such a way as to not be construed as suppression of academic freedom. The Jewish studies professors are correct when they say free exchanges of ideas are the lifeblood of any university as well as a free society such as Israel.
If their letter against AMCHA stuck to these principles, it might have made some sense. But they go further than that and make the following very interesting demand:
The institutions where we teach, as well as many others we know well (including those appearing on AMCHA's list), offer a broad array of courses dealing with Israel and Palestinian affairs. None of these, whether supportive or critical of Israeli policy, ought to be monitored for content or political orientation.
In other words, what they are really afraid of is not so much that anti-Israel or anti-Semitic academics will find themselves ostracized as they are of the entire concept of accountability for institutions of higher learning. That ought to be a bridge too far even for those who are least likely to care about the spread of incitement against Israel and Jews on the college campus. Their stand is not so much against a putative Jewish thought police as it is against any scrutiny of what goes on at universities and colleges. That is an absurd stand that deserves the contempt of the public and donors to such institutions, not their support.
We also need to ask whether the academic critics of AMCHA are right about the criteria used by the group to determine what is or is not anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. If AMCHA were merely labeling criticism of Israel's government as beyond the pale, they'd be right. But that's not the case. Here are AMCHA's criteria for defining such behavior:
* Denying Jews Their Right to Self-Determination
* Using Symbols and Images Associated with Historical Anti-Semitism
* Comparing Jews to Nazis
* Accusing Jews and Israel of Inventing or Exaggerating the Holocaust
* Demonizing Israel
* Delegitimizing Israel
* Holding Israel to a Double Standard
* Promoting Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Against Israel
* Condoning Terrorism Against Jews, Supporting Terrorist Organizations
* Targeting Jewish Students for Discrimination, Harassment, or Intimidation
Do any of the group's critics really want to argue that anyone who is guilty of behaving in this manner is not anti-Israel?
Let's also understand that the attempt by this group to paint AMCHA as the forerunner of a new spirit of McCarthyism on campus is looking at the situation through the wrong end of the telescope. If anything, it is pro-Israel academics that are the endangered species on campus, not the Israel-haters. That is especially true in the field of Middle East studies where scholars who do not accept the anti-Zionist point of view or who in any way support the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and the right of self-defense in their ancient homeland find it impossible to get tenure or obtain employment. The fact that Arab and Muslim potentates increasingly fund many Middle Eastern studies departments makes this uniformity more understandable if not defensible.
More to the point, this is a moment in history when a rising tide of anti-Semitism that often seeks to cloak itself in criticism of Israel is sweeping through Europe and finding beachheads in North America, principally in academia. At such a time, it is more important than ever not only to combat this virus of hate but also to understand exactly who is promoting it and where such activity is condoned if not supported.
Let's also understand that contrary to the aggressive and sometimes violent anti-Israel activities that take place in academia, all AMCHA does is publish a website which labels Israel-haters as such. Its critics are not so much disputing the problem of the growth of anti-Semitism that the BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) movement is fronting as they are merely asking that Jews keep quiet about it and not seek even to hold those who promote such hate accountable for their actions. That is a prescription for complacency that will only aid the movement these professors say they oppose.
Rather than seeking to silence AMCHA, Jewish academics need to find the guts to speak up against the growth of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic activity on campuses. If they don't, sooner or later Jews will find that it won't just be Middle Eastern studies where they are unwelcome.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.