What Ignorance Looks Like, Part I: Pretty Prejudice

Ignorance and bigotry are all mixed up with our usually unspoken ideas about class, and race, and gender. In the United States, when we think about ignorance and bigotry we all too often unfairly call up the image of a poor white Southern man. We are like a general who can’t win any battles because he’s still trying to fight the last war.

That’s why this Ms. California video is so compelling; this is the new, modern face of prejudice: feminine and pretty, self-effacing and even apologetic. Bigotry, at least the public sort, is no longer aggressive, masculine and arrogant. (No doubt the old bigotry survives in all sorts of other, less public places.) Ignorance, now, is “just an opinion,” ‘the way my family was raised.”

Yet it’s still bigotry and it’s still hateful and violent. As a friend of mine always says, why do they care? What is it about a certain Christian ideology that makes a simple fact of life– homosexuality– into moral depravity? I don’t think there’s a good answer in the end. Why did these same families find so-called mixed marriages so repulsive three generations ago?

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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