"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Thursday, October 06, 2016

We are not racists, we're just prejudiced

"Skeptics of implicit bias aren’t necessarily wicked. They’re just human."

Which is where the Christian in me wants to say:  "They are wicked; but that's because they're human."  But the deeper problem with Saletan's analysis is that he wants to eat his racism, and have it, too.

Saletan's whole argument here, that "bias" is unavoidable but "racism" is bad, is still based on that spectrum excuse I grew up with.  "I have nothing against those people [insert insidious grouping of people here], I just wouldn't want my daughter to marry one."  See?  No racism there!  Maybe some bias, what we used to call "prejudice," but hey, it's only human, right?

Saletan forgets, as the song from "South Pacific" said, that you have to be taught to hate.  You have to be taught bias.  It isn't human in the sense that, like language acquisition or learning to walk upright, it's innate.  It's only human in the sense that it is cultural.  And that's the other part of this argument that offends, in a sense, my Christianity:  because one of the cardinal (and ordinal!) teachings of Christianity is radical inclusion; overcoming the very "bias" Saletan thinks we are all inevitably heir to.

You are heir to your eye color; you aren't heir to what your eyes "see" in skin color.

The real "struggle to overcome bias" would be not to teach it at all.  We only see skin color as a basis for bias because we've been teaching the importance of that distinction for the past 200 years.  But the only way to overcome racism is to recognize that fact:  that any distinction we make based on the artificial concept of race is racist itself.  Just as anytime you point a finger at someone else, three more are pointing back at you, it is safe to say we are all racists.  That's no more radical a statement than to say "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."  But if we make either statement we need not do it from a stance of judgment, but merely as the basis for self-examination.

Because the splinter you see in your brother's or sister's eye, is always just a reflection of the log sticking out of your own.


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