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A Voice in the Dark

In AD 2101 war was beginning. What happen? Someone set up us the bomb! We get signal. What? Main screen turn on. It's you. How are you gentlemen!! All your base are belong to us!! You are on the way to destruction. What you say? You have no chance to survive. Make your time. HA HA HA HA.... Take off every 'Zig' You know what you doing! Move 'Zig' For great justice.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Pride in Prejudice

There's an awful lot of talk these days about tolerance and diversity and basic equality.

Anyone who has actually experienced other cultures -- either by being out of the country or by living in multiple areas of concentrated race, ethnicity, or religious belief -- knows that the notion of cultural equality is simply wrong. (I use the word "culture" henceforth to refer to any demographic distinction, whether it be religion or race or philosophy or what have you.) Other cultures are not equal to our own, because they are different. In some ways, perhaps they are better. In some ways, perhaps they are worse. But it is natural and normal in the human psychology to believe that your own culture is somehow superior to other cultures, because it adds to our own feelings of self-worth.

When this is taken to absurd extremes, it becomes dangerous. But all three extremes are dangerous... and note that I say three extremes, not two. It is bad for another culture to say "your culture is irredeemably inferior to mine", and it is bad for your own culture to say "my culture is irredeemably inferior to yours". But it is every bit as bad to say "your culture and my culture are of equal validity", because this is a complete and utter lie.

When you take away the right to compare cultures, you take away the right to compare isolated features of other cultures, too. Norway is one of the few remaining countries to have a monarchy. If we say that some other government is superior to a monarchy, that would imply that countries with such a government are superior to Norway, and by extension that the people of that country are superior to Norwegians. This sort of cultural relativism rapidly snowballs into an inability to make value judgements on any culture, which leaves the door wide open for any number of injustices.

Prejudice goes by another name, and that name is "experience". Once you have seen enough of a culture to have a sense of its primary characteristics, you will naturally come to expect certain behaviors and qualities from people within that culture. This is natural. This is normal. This is smart.

So be prejudiced. And be proud. There's nothing wrong with knowing what you can likely expect from someone, provided you avoid the failure of the bigot: when someone turns out not to be what you expect, recognise this, and adjust your future expectations accordingly. It's okay to pre-judge, as long as you continually examine and refine your judgements.

What we should really be complaining about isn't prejudice, it's refusal to learn. I've been unfortunate enough to meet several Klansmen in my lifetime, and while they can't stand "niggers", they're absolutely fine with every black person they ever meet. It's this hypothetical nonexistent "nigger" that bothers them, and they've never seen one. They only exist on the pages of the Burning Cross newsletter, where they're alternately accused of homosexuality and raping white women, of unemployment and job-stealing, of laziness and clandestine plotting. This bundle of contradictions can't exist, but if it did, I'd hate those people too. The failure isn't their prejudice against "niggers", it's their failure to recognise that there aren't any; that the black people they meet aren't wild exceptions, they're the norm, and the bullshit they've heard over the years is founded entirely on pigheaded ignorance.

Most ignorance is willful. Society should punish it, making the condition unacceptable enough to inspire its widespread elimination.

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