I’m a bigot, you’re a bigot, he’s a bigot, can you bigot baby. (To the tune of “Can You Dig It”) Lately it seems the site (TACD) has been consumed with posts about how bigoted/racist one side or the other is. Even I have entered the fray. We have had comments by some that all are racist/bigoted to some degree or another. From others that say they have never been bigoted, that it just is not in them to be that way at all. Others have labeled whole ideologies/parties as being the source of racism both individually and culturally. Guess what? You’re all right. Don’t get too excited though because you are also all wrong.
Are we all racist or bigoted to a degree? That depends on what criteria you use. Do most of us stay within our comfort zones, whatever that may be? Do we mostly associate with those within our socioeconomic and racial type? For most of us I would say that this is true. Some would say that staying with and around those who match your social profile would be a type of racism. In this sense (association of kind), we would indeed all be racists/bigots in that we have bias towards our own social/racial profile. The racism we mostly refer to as negative; however, is that racism which tends to place one race over another, giving them preferential treatment at the expense of others. Some may indeed have not ever expressed this form of racism.
I would argue that in many cases the current form of segregation of people is more along socioeconomic/political lines than it is along racial. Wealth lives/associates with wealth. Middle class lives/associates with middle class. Blue color lives/associates with blue color. Poor lives/associates with poor. In many ways I have more in common with a black middle class person than I do with a wealthy white man. I know for a fact I have more in common with a black conservative than I do with a white liberal. There is obviously some degree of segregation within the socioeconomic levels as well. It seems to be more pronounced in many ways among those on the lower end of the scale than the along the upper. Not many of the wealthy white guys would have a real problem having someone like say Michael Jordan as a neighbor. While the poor seem to gravitate to areas where members of their ethnicity dominate.
What about a whole ideology/political party being racists/bigots? The obvious to many seems to be that Republicans/Conservatives as a whole, are racists/bigots. (We won’t go into the fact that it was the Democrats who filibustered and delayed the civil rights movement as that is an article in and of itself.) Is it true? Not to many of the conservatives I know. We believe in fairness and equality of opportunity. We believe in the responsibility of the individual to create his own outcome from that opportunity. Do we think any group should be excluded? No. Do we think any group should receive preferential treatment? No. This seems to some to be harsh because when we say no special treatment some programs that give that preferential treatment end up on the chopping block. Do we want people to suffer? No. We say to all come join us. We want you to succeed. Raise your standard of living. We want you to have more through your own efforts. Racist? Bigoted? If you think that some group should be singled out for special treatment because of something that happened, then maybe so. If you believe in equal opportunity, then not so much.
Now what about the flip side of the coin? Many from the conservative side of the aisle see the methodology of the social services as being counterproductive. We see that programs supposedly designed to eliminate poverty actually tend to perpetuate the poverty they profess to want to end. We see programs that hand out the dole with no expectation of effort on the part of the one receiving it. We see just enough being given to maintain poverty with no effort made to give incentive to the poor to raise themselves out of the morass of poverty. This to us seems to be racist as many of the poor are minorities. The current system is not adequate. Does something need to be done for the poor and downtrodden? Absolutely. This system is broken though. We have about the same number of people living in poverty as we did when this so called war began. Yet, we still keep putting the same band aids on the wounds. Time for a different approach. Teaching responsibility and helping inculcate skills so a more permanent solution is found seems much more appropriate.
Now to bigotry. Many people who are so busy pointing the finger at bigots are not even aware of how bigoted they are. They see a person professing a belief in conservatism or that is a Republican, and point the finger calling them a racist and bigot with no other knowledge of the person other than his political leaning. Are their conservative racists/bigots? Sure. As there are racists and bigots in all other political factions. There are multiple facets to any political ideology. As far as I know, racism and or bigotry is not part of the platform of either of the major political parties. Are there more bigots and racists on one side than the other? I don’t really think so but I do think the nature of that bigotry and racism may be different. Remember, you can be a racist even if you are not white. If the race you happen to be bigoted towards is white you are a racist nonetheless. If the group you are bigoted towards happens to be conservatives/republicans then you are still a bigot nonetheless. Will racism ever end? Perhaps.
Discrimination. A bad thing? Not really (wait a second before your head explodes) without discrimination we would not survive. We use discrimination to determine if something is good or bad. We use discrimination to determine if something is good to eat or not. Even now you are using your personal discrimination to form an opinion about this article. At your work place you use your discrimination with your co-workers deciding who is a good worker and who is bad. Who you want to be with, who you want to avoid. If you are inclined to pick up hitchhikers, if you are wise you use discrimination before you decide to pick someone up. You bypass the machete carrying wild looking man, to pick up the docile looking young man. When you are traveling through a city you avoid those areas that appear to be high crime areas, not out of disrespect for those people, but because you value your safety.
So when is discrimination a bad thing? When you use it to form judgments based on factors not in evidence. When you judge a person strictly for his race, religion, political persuasion, sex, gender or any of a myriad of other factors. When we pass these judgments based strictly on external factors we may find that our discrimination often leads us to an erroneous conclusion. So yes, use discrimination, but use it wisely. Use discrimination based on the attributes/actions of the individual.
The fact is both sides care about the poor and disadvantaged. The left believes that it is appropriate for the state to take from some to give to others. They believe this to be fair and equitable distribution of the wealth of the individual to aid the state in alleviating the suffering of the less fortunate. The right believes that this methodology actually prolongs poverty by creating a culture of dependency that is growing as more people seek to have more needs met by the state. We believe this expanding dependency will hurt the very people it professes to want to help. Rather, we support a culture of responsibility, responsibility for self, responsibility for offspring, responsibility for providing your own support. We believe it is this culture of responsibility that will actually reduce or even eliminate poverty. We believe it is through this culture that the most people will be helped, among the poor, among the minorities, and any who feel disenfranchised.
We want the poor, minorities, and all who seek to better themselves, to join us in the prosperity this nation has the potential to share with all. Not by lowering some to the lowest common denominator, but by providing opportunities for all to excel. Poverty does not end by any state sponsored support (in fact history shows the opposite to be true). Poverty ends only on an individual level. Individual effort. Individual success. When a person rises up out of poverty it is because he/she decided to make the effort. That is the only way to fight poverty, individual effort.