The Complicated World of Bigotry

In the greater Seattle suburb of Kirkland, a very quaint and beautiful area where I would love to live someday, there is a grade-A @$$hole who has led a fevered vendetta against gay rights. He’s the pastor of Antioch Bible Church (where he’s been for over two decades) and has not only been a firm opponent of gay marriage, but of anti-discrimination legislation and domestic partnerships. He is arguably to the right of many gay marriage opponents from far more conservative areas of the country.

It’s worth noting that the pastor in question, Ken Hutcherson, is black. Whatever solidarity he is supposed to have as an ethnic minority for a sexual minority is apparently quite lost on him. Ken Hutcherson’s existence shouldn’t be shocking to those with life experience outside of textbook indoctrination. I’ve met many racists and homophobes, some white, some Hispanic, some Asian, and they all come in many different colors, shapes and sizes. It’s nearly a waste of time to confront them about it. Bigotry is not something people like to admit, and if you mention it they tend to act like they’ve been unfairly attacked.

Now that the high emotion surrounding the passage of the health care bill is in the past, it is very important to remember this. Racism and xenophobia is rampant in the culturally homogenous society of Japan, where even those of Japanese ancestry who were born elsewhere have difficulty being accepted. I’ve personally heard very disparaging remarks towards blacks from Hispanics, heard bigoted comments towards blacks from Indians, heard whites say horrible generalizations about black people and vice versa. Racism is not a homogenous factor of one particular ethnic or political group; it’s the result of the natural tribal instinct that we share with our primate cousins.

As emotional as I got after hearing that “homo” had been shouted and that allegedly racial slurs were shouted at a tea party rally, these rational, nuanced thoughts came back days later. If the book Game Change is to be believed, Bill Clinton was heard saying to Ted Kennedy that a few years ago Obama “would be getting us coffee” and Harry Reid was talking about Obama being free of any “Negro” dialect. Given all of that, I think it’s obvious that bigoted views are more common among conservative rural and suburban voters, whose exposure to minorities is usually encountering homeless who beg for change on the off times they visit the city, than their urban liberal and libertarian counterparts who have actually had friends of more than one ethnicity. (If you don’t believe me, look up any of Tom Tancredo’s speeches.) It’s sad that anyone is still thinking and talking in bigoted terms, but it seems to be a permanent factor in our society.

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