Understanding Bigotry


(Guest post by Greg Forster)

I am deeply impressed by, but feel the need to add something to, Neal’s very gutsy column on trying to understand what appears to be bigotry.

Neal is right that what appears to be merely bigotry is often at least mixed with other, less objectionable concerns; and sometimes what appears to be bigotry may not be bigotry at all. As Neal points out, American Protestant responses to Roman Catholic immigration were at least partly colored by the knowledge that Catholic/Protestant differences had led to extended warfare in Europe, and usually the only viable path to peace had been to separate the two populations.

I would apply this in our own day by saying that populations that appear bigoted are often just low-information voters who have tuned out the dinosaur media completely (and with very good reason!) and thus have never been told that Donald Trump is a notorious racist who discriminates against blacks in his businesses, said a judge of Mexican ancestry couldn’t judge him impartially, constantly flirted with the alt-right, and refused, three times, to repuidate the KKK when first asked to do so. They simply don’t know these things because the news sources they trust (Fox, Rush) have decided not to tell them.

In light of this, I think the following also needs to be said:

  1. The more aggressive we are in repudiating real bigotry, the more credibility we will have to discuss what may or may not be real bigotry. If more conservative and GOP leaders had done the right thing during the election and repudiated Trump as beyond the pale and unsupportable regardless of all other factors because of his shameless racism, it might be possible now to get a hearing for the case that many or even most low-information Trump voters don’t know he’s racist. I’m not optimistic about that now. It may be true – I think it probably is true – but no one will buy it.
  2. There is a heavy reckoning awaiting the conservative and GOP leaders who chose to turn a blind eye to what Trump really is, and the right-wing news sources that chose not to tell their audiences.
  3. In an email, Neal says “a lot of Americans used to fear my religion.” What does he mean, “used to”?

One Response to Understanding Bigotry

  1. […] Rose D. Friedman Foundation notes in a piece on DeVos’ nomination (as well as an earlier commentary), the failure to openly, honestly, and consistently call out Trump’s bigotry (as well as that […]

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