I grew up in the 70's and 80's in a very small town in the Deep South. At my high school, black students sat on one side of the cafeteria during
lunch hour, whites on the other. At the only theater in town, white patrons entered through the lobby doors and took their seats on the main floor;
black patrons entered through a side door, climbed a staircase and took their seats in the balcony. The "N word" was used casually and often. These
actions were the norm, and indeed were never thought about; it was "just the way things were done."
Fast forward to 2004. In my city, schools, churches, offices, and neighborhoods are multicultural melting pots. My oldest son's three best friends
are black, Korean, and Latino, respectively. I have no idea the last time I heard/saw "the N word."
Unfortunately, it seems to have been replaced with a new breed of epithet: the ideologically based. The phrases "right-wing" and "neo-con" are
almost always accompanied by a sneer, and the word "liberal" has come to be an insult; we even had a thread on ATS asking why being a liberal is
supposedly such a bad thing. In these times when every casual remark must be first weighed on the scales of political correctness, it's no longer
acceptable to denigrate a person based on their racial identity, but it's almost expected that you do so based on political identity.
Dittohead. Republicon. Whiny/wimpy/pathetic liberal. If you want more examples, just scroll back through the Political Ideology threads of the past
couple of months. Do these labels improve the discussion, or merely further polarize the participants?
"...[M]an's gravest threat to man - the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason
." Although this quote could conceivably be plucked from
any current newspaper -- and certainly seems to sum up today's U.S. political climate -- it was actually stated by Abraham Heschel (Jewish theologian
and philosopher, 1907-1972)...and the topic was racism.
Do we as humans simply need to distinguish ourselves from others we deem inferior, through whatever means possible? Or could this be the logical
result of a media-driven campaign to ensure that we are sufficiently distracted from the very real problems at hand?
People of America, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.