Diversity The Real Thing
It was about race. Evidently the writer assumed that because I write critically about certain sacred cows of diversity, I must share his rabid hatred for other groups.
I do take racial, ethnic, and cultural differences seriously. I believe all men are created in Gods image, but there is much more to be said about them when they form groups. Its fine to celebrate diversity, but group differences also lead to hatred and war. No point in evading that fact with sentimental slogans.
At the same time, most of us sympathize with the wistful cry, Cant we all just get along? There is a sense in which its true, as the cliché has it, that the things that unite us are more important than the things that divide us. But the things that divide us, if ultimately less important, are often more urgent, and its best to face them frankly.
Indiscriminate hatred is often called bigotry, but thats only one kind of bigotry. I know people who are bigoted about Shakespeare, in the sense that they refuse to listen to evidence against their views. A closed mind knows no bounds. It can apply itself to any subject under the sun.
Racial bigotry is now the most disreputable kind, and usually we are warned about its potential danger to its targets. But there is a sense in which the racial bigot is his own victim. I felt like replying to my correspondent, Have you stopped to think what youre doing to your own mind and heart? What kind of man have you turned yourself into? Is that what you really want to be?
Im proud to be a white man, a son of Christian Europe, to which I owe so much. I hate the fashionable derogation of white people. At the same time, thats no reason to react by derogating everyone else, any more than loving and defending your family is a reason for disparaging other families.
Europe has produced a very great civilization, of which America is a part. But there are other civilizations that should command our respect too, and even uncivilized people were no longer supposed to call them savages have their dignity. And of course our own civilization often fails to live up to its own standards, sometimes outdoing savages in savagery.
All that aside, the racial bigot denies himself the possibility of friendship, enjoyment, appreciation, and countless other pleasures in the people he hates. If he takes his hostility far enough, he becomes willfully blind to their virtues and ungrateful for what they may have to offer him; he crabbily focuses on their faults and shortcomings, as if these were the only things worth noticing about them. And of course hell be tempted to violate their most basic rights.
This may sound like sentimental twaddle, but I dont think so. I think its simple realism. I owe too much to too many people to write off any group as a whole. I understand that racial stereotypes usually have a good measure of truth, but the variations within every group are so great that whenever possible we should to use another cliché treat individuals as they come.
Tragically, this isnt always possible. Sometimes a generalization is all we have to go on. And we often encounter the type who, as we used to say, gives the whole group a bad name. I could tell you some stories. At times Ive been embittered by those walking stereotypes. But Ive also been confounded and even ashamed when people I was biased against behaved with a grace I hadnt expected, acting in response to the better angels of our nature.
Angels. Yes, cynicism can be as naive as optimism, so Ive learned from experience to, as I like to put it, look for the angels the people who, given a chance, will react to a kind gesture with their own kindness. The more you try to act like an angel, the more of these angels youll meet. The bigot is always looking for devils. And, with a sour pleasure, hell find them.
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