Thursday, August 10, 2006


Racism is pretty common. In South Africa you don't have to go far to find somebody who will cheerfully confess his racism if he feels he is among friends. Anti-Semitism and sexism are also popular. This is common knowledge right? When some famous person reveals their prejudice it changes my impression of them. It's not nice to be racist, but I don't get the outrage when somebody is caught out. This is related to the response to things like the motoons and reports of Koran flushing's in prisons. Earnest death threats are sent and people get killed in riots and demonstrations. Why are these things so outrageous? The response is usually far more passionate than responses to news of bombings or murder. In South Africa a racist comment is much more damaging than stealing, or possibly even rape. But I would guess that many people have friends that they know to be racist (or whatever) but don't end the friendship, I know I have.

I think it's interesting that these two attitudes to prejudice coexist in the way they do (assuming that there is something in what I've said). I think it says something about the ethical climate in which we live that there is so much moral outrage over cartoons and the pervasive greed and selfishness of our society, but so little over other things that happen everyday.

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