October 11, 2014
Who are the bigots?
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 is so 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.
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