Bigotry, Racism, & Extremism

“True Believers” are always scary because they are idealogues, believing in ideas over reality. Sure, all humans have ideas and respect them as they allow us to communicate and to get things done in a group. But idealogues do not see ideas as merely a means to an end; they worship their ideas, seeing them as an end in themselves. Now they do have an hierarchy of values on this matter, having designated some ideas as “really important” and then assigned designations to them such as “god” or “truth” or “right” or as I like to sum it up, “truth, justice, and the American way.” These really big ideas are so important they will fight for them and in extremes they will kill for them and will often proudly announce they are willing to die for them.

Now I too believe in “god” and “truth” and “right” and value the American way of life. But since I’m not an ideologue…being in recovery from that malady…I see those words as being sounds we utter to refer to phenomena that lie beyond the grasp of words. “God”, for example, is a label we use to refer to that which is the Ungraspable, that dimension of life which we cannot wrap our head around but some of us feel very strongly is present…or Present…in this Mystery that we are encompassed by.

But my thought about God, as well as the rest of these thoughts and the whole of this blog posting, will be described as “straight from the pits of hell” by all idealogues as they cannot, or will not, handle ambiguity. They are horrified with the notion that life is dynamic, that there is a flow or fluidity to life as the notion threatens their illusion that they are in total control of their world. To understand this approach to life, to understand with the mind and with the heart, would require faith and there is no room in their heart for faith. Of course, they proudly announce that they have faith and they know that they that they do have faith because they know that they do. Our world has an object lesson in this blight on human consciousness with the Taliban, and now with Isis, and also the extreme right-wing of the American Republican party.

Yesterday Salon.com offered extensive excerpts from a recent book that addresses this issue with its analysis of racism and bigotry. The book is, “The Bigot: Why Prejudice Persists“ by Stephen Eric Bronner.   The Salon.com excerpt is entitled, “This is your brain on racism: Inside the mind of modern bigotry” and here is the link:

http://www.salon.com/2014/07/27/this_is_your_brain_on_racism_inside_the_mind_of_modern_bigotry/

Here are some highlights in the Salon.com excerpt that I want to share:

The bigot has always felt queasy about transforming the visible, the ineffable into the discursive, and the unknown into the known. Observation and evidence, hypothesis and inference, confirmation and validation are thus selectively employed by him to justify what Cornel West has termed “the discursive exclusion” of those who are different and what they have to offer.

(The bigot) is always primarily concerned with proving what he thinks he already knows. He insists that the answers to the problems of life have been given and he resents everything that challenges inherited wisdom, parochial prejudices, and what he considers the natural order of things.

Other than his prejudices, he has no core beliefs. The bigot likes it when his interests are being served, when people of color are exploited, but he dislikes it when he feels disadvantaged.

Competition is good when it works for him. When it doesn’t, the bigot will insist that his competitors are cheating—and that they cheat because it is a trait of their ethnicity, nationality, or race.”

To summarize, the bigot is guilty of what Sartre called “bad faith.” “Bad faith” is a bogus faith in that it goes under the name “faith” but if subjected to scrutiny, is only egotism run amok, an ersatz spirituality which the Apostle Paul would have described as a, “work of the flesh.” But the bigot will not allow any questioning of his motives and in a sense has no capacity to do so for his heart has long sense been darkened by Darkness so that he sees only darkness and, of course, calls it Light. And, to employ the same circular reason offered earlier, it is then “Light” because he knows that it is “Light” whereas if he would allow that “Spirit of God” that he often purports to worship to visit his heart, he would see that he only at best sees faint glimmers of Light and can at best see “only through a glass darkly.” That experience would then allow him to tolerate more the possibility that people different than him have intrinsic dignity and deserve respect, that all of us have only a finite perspective.

 

To quote Goethe once again, “They call it reason, using Light celestial, just to outdo the beasts in being bestial.”

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10 thoughts on “Bigotry, Racism, & Extremism

  1. zobop republic

    Hello. Eye opening post. I’m just finishing a book on ethnic advantage called, ‘Reproducing Racism’ by Daria Roithmayr (c) 2014. It’s kind depressing because the author suggest that racism & social advantage may be “locked-in”; which means we may never get out of this situation. I guess this applies to bigots too.

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    1. 21stcenturyxstian Post author

      Interesting thought, that we might be “locked in.” And I think that we probably are in so many respects. But that should not stop us from the struggle, individually and collectively. Relative to this notion, I over use the following W. H. Auden quote, “We wage the war we are.” Thanks for stopping by. Hope you come back.

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  2. Anne-Marie

    I’m only learning that having faith is living with uncertainty and not knowing. It is actually wonderful to begin to let go. Of course, one also has to live with the paradox one is, a mixture of light and dark and find joy even in this.

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  3. Stephen Bronner

    i just wanted to express my appreciation for the humane and sincere engagement with my book by you and other non-dogmatic members of the religious community.

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      1. Stephen Bronner

        That’s very kind: I wish you and your comrades –if I can use the word– the very best of luck. Your voice is particularly important in struggling against prejudice.

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      2. 21stcenturyxstian Post author

        I ordered your book today. And I’m “talking it up” with others who will appreciate it, including those involved in poly science. Being a “person of faith” I really find “persons of faith” very much part of the problem for taking themselves too seriously and not bringing a critical view of our world to the table such as Jesus would be doing.

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      3. Stephen Bronner

        I am delighted to hear it– and I couldn’t agree more. I am involved in a good deal of human rights work with religious people: At the end of the day…its what you do that counts…..Thanks again for the support.

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