8/30/2005

Bigotry: The forgotten virtue

While having the noblest of intentions, the civil rights movement has trampled over an American Virtue. Bigotry is on the wane. Civil rights leaders and liberal politicians are nursing sore shoulders from patting themselves on the back. But they fail to appreciate the damage they’re doing. This country was founded on bigotry. It needs bigotry to thrive. Americans need bigotry like the queers need a parade, like the Irish need liquor and dagos need a bath. Let me explain.

Hatred is a part of who we are. People hate. Period. Along with love, fear, curiosity, lust, greed, and the craving for ice cream, hate is wired into our genetic make-up. Hate is not a bad thing. How can something innately human be bad? One might just as soon condemn the naked body; for both are human. Do you need an excuse to love someone? Of course not. Why then, do you need a good reason to hate somebody? You don’t. And that brings us to the virtue of Bigotry.

Our ancestry recognized the inherent hatred in Man, and made provisions for its expression in everyday life. To wit, they bequeathed on their posterity a meticulously crafted dynamic of ethnic and racial hatred. A look back in time will find good, honest, hard-working, virtuous, church-going people hating just about everybody. Irish, Italian, Jewish, Polish, Hispanic and African immigrants were the subject of American hate. And they, the immigrants, hated them right back. We called this reciprocal hatred “enculturation.” Catholics hated Protestants. Irish hated Blacks. Polish hated 3rd grade math class. Everybody hated somebody. Of course, the hatred had no discernable merit. Thus, the bigotry. Our hatred was so thick that a walk down the street would coat you in a residue of loathing. Hate was right out there in the open, like the liberal bias in the mainstream media. It was omnipresent. It was arbitrary. We didn’t oppress hatred. We embraced it. It was a beautiful thing.

I can hear my readers’ thoughts even now. “LBB, have you fallen off your rocker? Are you drunk again (yes!)? Hate is despicable. The ugliest feature of American history is our bigotry. We’ve spent the last 40 years making amends for the sins of our hateful and bigoted past.”

Pipe down, hippie. I’m not done yet. As I’ve postulated, and hopefully you’ve agreed, hatred is an innate part of the human animal. To the extend we squelch hatred in racial and ethnic venues, we redirect it into unhealthy, innocent aspects of everyday life. Our hatred has gone "underground." It's cryptic. It's under pressure and therefore erupts in random, unpredictable and dangerous flare-ups. Hatred is no longer a predictable and controllable thing. It’s a live grenade. It’s a hot potato. It’s a firecracker with a thousand fuses. It’s Russel Crowe with a 12-pack in his belly and brass knuckles on his hand. Our hatred has metastasized from a manageable human trait to a capricious enemy who can strike at any moment.

I’ve got a newsflash for you: Our hatred is alive and well. In fact, it’s stronger than ever. Just as the abuse of antibiotics creates new, opportunistic bacteria, so does our crusade against bigotry create a thousand new bigotries.

How can I be so glib, so reckless? Am I trying to convince the reader that efforts to squelch hatred have been fruitless, that the war against bigotry is detrimental, that we hate as much now as we ever did? Yes. Let me offer some examples. Take a mental snapshot of contemporary American life. We no longer tolerate bigotry. Anyone who dares to say a foul word against another based on their race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation is condemned, sued, and in extreme cases, imprisoned. We’ve defeated bigotry. We’ve eliminated hatred. We’ve evolved.

That is, of course, unless you’re overweight, a smoker, an SUV owner, a meat-eater, a gun-owner, home-school your kids, use a cell phone while driving, vote for Bush, shop at Wal-Mart, eat fast-food, go to church, show the vaguest interest in Intelligent Design, work at a for-profit company, watch Fox News, or find Dennis Miller refreshingly poignant. Ask the above if we’ve eliminated hatred from our culture. Meditate on the thousand subtle little things we hate. Then consider whether we’ve “evolved.”

What’s happening here? We have to invent new reasons to hate each other. Do you honestly believe that we would have hated cell phone users who talked while driving 50 years ago, should that technology have existed? Hell no. Being able to call Bangkok while driving down I-10 is cool, yo. We wouldn’t have minded if you were driving 5 under the speed limit back in the day. We had more patience back then. We had more forgiveness in our hearts. Most important, we had far better reasons to hate each other. What else could explain the preposterous hatred we have for McDonald’s and Wal-Mart? McDonald’s sells burgers and fries. Please explain to me the harm in that. Wal-Mart has everything you need at rock-bottom prices, and a wonderful return policy. What’s the damn problem? The problem is, we’ve blocked the natural avenues of hatred, so we channel it into innocent entities like Wal-Mart or a cell-phone or an SUV. You’ve have to hate something. Skin color, accents and religion are off-limits. So we discharge our hatred on a Big Mac. Has anybody else considered the folly of hating a burger joint? God help us!

As we prosecute our crusade against hatred, we’ll see it erupt in evermore senseless facets of our lives. I fear I’ll live to see Mackies burning PC owners alive, or at least suing them in the name of “computing justice.” Incidentally, have you noticed how our hatreds are a form of “justice?” Environmental justice. Social justice. Economic justice. Gender justice.

How far are we from “Hamburger justice?” “Discount-shopper justice (look out, Wal-Mart!)?” “Vehicular justice (death to SUVs!).” “Telcom justice (kill your cell phone?)”

Let’s conserve the American Virtue of Bigotry before our innate hatred consumes us.

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NWJR said...

Admit it...now that you own a Mac, you sometimes feel the urge to burn a PC. Just a little...

That's how it starts. :-)