Friday, March 03, 2017

Perception

I am troubled when I see lofty opinions offered particularly about other races, strata of society, sexual orientation et all.

Someone who reports to me, a former teacher, thinks it hilarious to imitate Chinese people. What he perceives to be Chinese. He's never met one apart from in a Chinese restaurant. But, in spite of my objections, I will catch him amusing residents with this appalling accent accompanied by the gesture of slanting his eyes. To say I am shocked at his insensitivity is to understate my reaction. I sat him down and talked to him about this racism. He was offended I called him a racist as he is "Open-minded". And truly, he says, a "Chinaman" would not be offended, they would laugh too. And he wouldn't mind if they imitated him, ah lighten up. To make things worse, he took his show on stage much to the hilarity of the audience as someone was kind enough to show me a video of his show-stopping routine. But, you know, he is extraordinarily kind in other ways. He goes beyond. So, yes, I like him but I keep hoping my repeated careful evaluation of his disturbing mockery will enlighten him one day.

Blanket statements about segments of society are bordering on prejudice also as in: "I love Lesbians". I know many lesbians, some I disliked, some I loved. Just like anyone else, I accord them humanity and differentiation. I can't like everyone. The same with gay men. Some are my friends, others are anti-feminist and exclusive of heterosexual women. I don't care for them or their opinions if they are misogynistic.

And speaking of feminism, I remember on one of my posts about this particular F word, a comment by a fellow blogger about once meeting a strident feminist thirty years before so she had no time now for feminism. I couldn't count the wrongs in that tiny statement.

No class of society is a monolith. I don't make pronouncements on the wealthy as a class. Or the impoverished for that matter. I've known nasty selfish wealthy people who gather their ill-gotten gains to themselves and never share, and others who are unlimited in their generosity. I've known poor people who are horrible, abusive and greedy and others who are gentle and kind.

A blog friend posted recently on a class or label of society he took offence to and found it wanting. I assumed he was talking about people he knew. But no. He was just blanket-judging. It puzzled me and I had to think about it and my own judgements on others.

Black and white thinking leads to racism and misogyny and anti-gay stances and yeah, fascism.

For if we don't take the time to get to know people, all people in our path, all races, classes, how can we possibly judge? I offer you Muslims.

We all bear the stamp of uniqueness.

And are one river.




23 comments:

  1. Too right...Lovely post. Last week, a mosque in my area was burned by arson. My Rabbi and congregants went and participated in services there as a show of support and since then, money is being raised to help.

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  2. I love this, E. I too was gratified to see many march in protest when a mosque here was graffitied.

    Also so many came together in the rain and cold when a jury dismissed a rape charge against a cop on duty.

    I always look for the helpers.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. You're welcome, Sabine. How I love your name!

      XO
      WWW

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  4. I can't tell you how many times I've gently confronted patients on expressing racist or misogynistic or otherwise prejudiced views. And it makes me a little crazy when I hear someone use the word "feminist" as a perjorative. And you are right - some people can be lovely and kind in so many ways and still have a complete blindspot about their own racism.

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    1. Many I know are lacking in awareness of their own prejudices and racism. I was appalled when a fairly important member of the community referred to our Sikh doctor as a "towel head" and was offended at me when I corrected her. Ye gads and little fish-heads!

      XO
      WWW

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  5. Unfortunately, it seems it's a human trait to generalize from the particular, and to see what we want to see and ignore the rest. Your post is a good reminder to us all not to fall into the stereotypes of any race, religion or kind.

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    1. It's an easy trap Tom. And I think it keeps the judgers at a distance from others if they can categorize and dismiss easily.

      I think it a form of insecurity.

      XO
      WWW

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  6. Yes, indeed, a form of insecurity. I see the judging frequently among expat community towards their hosts, other European nationalities, any "other" and see themselves as superior. Discussion is futile: I try to avoid them.

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    1. The Newfoundlanders were mocked and jeered for many centuries and downtrodden and abused in a feudal system so some take their turns at doing the same thing now. I get that.

      Massive insecurity.

      XO
      WWW

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  7. I live in India where you will find everything that you write about in abundant measure and the funny thing about it is that the person concerned will usually be blissfully unaware of his/her being so.

    Let me quote Sarah Macdonald, in Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure. A great book incidentally. “India is beyond statement, for anything you say, the opposite is also true. It's rich and poor, spiritual and material, cruel and kind, angry but peaceful, ugly and beautiful, and smart but stupid. It's all the extremes.”

    I wonder if the same thing can be said about every country by a foreigner who experiences difference!

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    1. Well said Ramana. Ireland is full of breathtaking beauty and appalling hypocrisy.

      I am sure other countries have similar dichotomies.

      XO
      WWW

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  8. It's a shock when someone we thought of as tolerant and enlightened turns out to have some untypically insensitive attitude. But maybe we all have such Achilles Heels and aren't aware of it. I like to think I'm generally tolerant and considerate but I may be kidding myself. It took me a long while to curb my habit of making blanket statements.

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  9. There is nothing wrong with discrimination. We'd all be dead without application in our lives every day. Discriminating choices. Oh the Left loves to bandy about "tolerance", but really what is it they mean? Today it amounts to little more than virtue signaling. It's really become a fascistic intolerance.

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  10. I find the term "towel head" particularly offensive. I give you credit for trying to correct or educate persons using racist, misogyny and anti-gay comments. I've tried a very few times---I usually steam inside---but the people acting that way never thinks the criticism pertains to them.

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  11. What if everyone stopped caring about what prejudiced white people think and just avoided them? They get too much attention for their stupid notions.

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  12. Definitely -- I think all countries have the dichotomies mentioned above. I've long had a war against generalizing people into labeled groups as convenient as doing so is to write or talk about. I have a blog draft on that very topic but you've addressed the matter much better than I probably could.

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  13. "People are too complicated to have simple labels.”
    ― Philip Pullman
    Generalising becomes a kind of shorthand, grown far more common with the advent of the internet, I fear. I try not to do it, but do not always succeed.

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  14. My grandchildren are part Japanese and I think they'd be offended (as I am) by the so called comedian you described.
    The only people we can really laugh at is ourselves!
    I agree with Twilight...... people are far to complicated to have simple labels.
    Maggie x

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  15. Have you survived the enslaught? Obviously your internet line didn't.

    OSOS readers may want to check out Newfoundland weather for the past week for some possible explanation for our host's silence.

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  16. Spot on. I've found that many people who stereotype others are people who have been shoved into a box of their own. Instead of climbing out of the box, they want to box and label others.

    If more of us supported each other to genuinely be ourselves, we would probably (maybe) be nicer folk.

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