Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Some rather wise words about limousine liberals from a Muslim

He says that ivory-tower theory is too easy:
"When our ways of life trap us into a closed world of friends who look, look, or believe like us, elaborating great and beautiful philosophies of tolerance and pluralism is a highly virtual petition of generosity, an extremely subtle way of avoiding the need to be open-minded. Those are but good intentions that amounts to making a show of being anti-racist in intellectual terms, even though we come across no –or almost no—Blacks, Arabs or Asians (or White, or others, if you are Black, Arab or Asian) in our day to day lives. Being opposed to anti-Semitism or Islamophobia whilst living, deliberately or otherwise, at a respectable distance from Jews and Muslims is certainly an honourable intellectual stance, but basically it tells us nothing about the real personal attitudes of the human being who theorizes in that way.

He goes on to say that racial animosity rarely springs from theory but from life experiences:
When ‘the others’ seem to be confident and serene when we ourselves are unsure of our truths; when their visibility disturbs our living space and their presence upsets our habits; when whey seem to steal the few jobs available; when their prosperity reminds us of our difficulties or even poverty .. then they stir up within us emotions that are to human beings what the survival instinct is to animals. The reaction is almost uncontrollable: all our fine words become meaningless, and we are back to our raw humanity. We have to come to terms with emotions, dispositions of the heart and our ‘gut’ reactions that colonize our minds with fear, suspicion, rejection and prejudices. Purely intellectual racism is a minority, and often, marginal phenomenon. The rejection –conscious or otherwise—of the other always feeds on a mixture of doubts, fear, insecurity and habits that have been upset, combined with real or fantasized rivalry for wealth, numbers or strength: the day to day problems of immigration, unemployment, poverty, of the feeling of being dispossessed, invaded and so on. We are indeed at the heart of humanity and of life: we may well despise and denounce the dogmatists and the racists in our cosy spaces but it is most unfair not to take full account of the often highly instinctive fears and doubts which, in concrete situations, produce the worst rejections of the other.


There is much truth in that but I think he is limited in seeing only negative explanations for ethnic consciousness. He omits the old "birds of a feather flock together" explanation. It is natural (and probably safest) to feel most at ease among others like ourselves and we tend to seek out others like ourselves for that reason. That is why many social clubs used to have ethnic criteria for admission until such rules were mostly outlawed.

I myself am always especially delighted to see red-headed children about the place so does that make me a "hairist"? Maybe it does but since my father had red hair and my son has a red beard, I hope I can be excused. If I can't like what is close to me it would be a sad day. Just today when I was walking home I passed a young mother who had two little redheaded children in tow. As we passed, I said to her how lucky she was to have two little carrot-tops. She agreed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Prejudice, of one kind or another, is simply a part of human nature, like love or hate. It's a naturally occurring phenomenon in all of us. Only fools (usually liberals) believe it can be outlawed or legislated away. And it is usually those same fools who believe it's always racially motivated.