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Bigot? Racist? Something Else?

 
 
chai2
 
Reply Wed 21 Jun, 2017 04:26 pm
I'm trying to describe a person, and am confused as to what term to use.

What word do you use to describe someone who out of ignorance, lack of exposure to others, doesn't express a hatred or dislike of other groups, but believes in the other groups innate inferiority?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 10 • Views: 11,431 • Replies: 508

 
InfraBlue
 
  5  
Reply Wed 21 Jun, 2017 05:48 pm
@chai2,
General beliefs of other groups' inferiority is bigotry. It's also chauvinism, but nowadays it's defined more as sexism. If it's specific to race, then it's racist.
chai2
 
  2  
Reply Wed 21 Jun, 2017 06:20 pm
@InfraBlue,
Thanks, I think I'm going to go with bigotry in this case. It's a general thing of being pretty ignorant of the diversity in the world for 70 plus years, and the attending fear and/or disinterest of the unknown.

It's literally someone who is very elderly, who has never lived anywhere other than where they grew up, never exposed to many people different, never had a real conversation with anyone different.

This person has never had much interest in world, or even local news, joined any social groups, and the few friends she had over the years were the same as her.

She's never Done anything, that's what makes describing this confusing. More like a general unawareness, disinterest in most things and maybe even this belief that other groups just don't really exist in the sense that she exists.

Think of someone's Great Aunt Tillie on steroids.

Oblivious, that's the world I've been looking for.
Linkat
 
  2  
Reply Wed 21 Jun, 2017 07:39 pm
@chai2,
Exactly as you state ignorant. How can you be racist or bigot if you havent been exposed to someone of a different race? It is sort of the unknown to the other person. Now I am assuming complete unknown like the other type was never known in any way to the person as opposed to never had heard or had any knowledge of it.

What else could it be but ignorance.
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maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Wed 21 Jun, 2017 08:31 pm
@chai2,
These generic insults are not technical terms. They are subjective terms. They are personal attacks that mean whatever you want them to mean.

No one is objectively a "bigot" or a "slut" or a "moron" or an "asshole" or a "bitch". These are just nasty terms to express your own displeasure. You can call anyone you want a "bigot" or a "racist". Other people will probably disagree...

... when you are being judgmental, you are the judge. That is the whole point.

After all, who cares what insult you use?



snood
 
  4  
Reply Wed 21 Jun, 2017 09:51 pm
Can't a negative description of someone not be an insult, but a reflection of reality? If someone has contempt for a whole group of people without having any personal experience on which to base that antipathy, isn't that person a prejudiced person, by definition? What's wrong with calling people who are prejudiced against a certain group bigots, racists, sexists, etc.?
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Jun, 2017 10:04 pm
@snood,
Labels aren't reality... they are too simplistic to describe real people. They are a shortcut for someone for whom you have contempt. There are people who think that Chai is a bigot. They are people who probably think that you are a bigot. There are certainly people who think I am a bigot. I don't believe there isn't any human being who isn't prejudiced (I am not excusing it... I am simply arguing against the utility of the label).

There is no objective test of bigotry... it is a subjective judgement.
snood
 
  5  
Reply Wed 21 Jun, 2017 10:13 pm
@maxdancona,
There is no person now, and there has never been a person who in your opinion could objectively be called a racist?
TomTomBinks
 
  2  
Reply Wed 21 Jun, 2017 10:14 pm
@chai2,
"Provincial" might be another term. I live in a rural area and see this kind of willful ignorance on a daily basis.
chai2
 
  2  
Reply Wed 21 Jun, 2017 10:25 pm
@snood,
snood wrote:

Can't a negative description of someone not be an insult, but a reflection of reality? If someone has contempt for a whole group of people without having any personal experience on which to base that antipathy, isn't that person a prejudiced person, by definition? What's wrong with calling people who are prejudiced against a certain group bigots, racists, sexists, etc.?


In this case, it's not antipathy, dislike or hatred snood. It's the ignorance of pretty much any group of people who weren't in this persons personal experience. Plus the fact that the person had little interest in learning or broadening their horizons, that causes this feeling of "it's just the natural course of things" That's why I'm having a problem finding the right word. As Linkat said, yes, it's ignorance. Ignorance isn't necessarily a negative thing, however in this case it tends towards negative, as it's willful. Anything different from her just wasn't of any interest. Writing this out, I'm realizing extremely sheltered would also be a way to describe her.

Normally, I would just call it ignorance, but I was trying to express to someone, in a word her feeling of being of the type of person that is preferred. Bigot just keeps coming up in my mind as the closest.

0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Jun, 2017 10:26 pm
@TomTomBinks,
TomTomBinks wrote:

"Provincial" might be another term. I live in a rural area and see this kind of willful ignorance on a daily basis.


Ah! We cross posted.

That however is excellent!

Yes indeed.

Thanks
TomTomBinks
 
  2  
Reply Wed 21 Jun, 2017 10:44 pm
@chai2,
There are a few I can talk to, somewhat. just a couple days ago I was trying to show one of the locals that white and black people are virtually the same except for minor differences/variations, and that skin color is just an adaptation to regional differences in the amount of sunlight received. I had to explain a bit on genetics (rudimentary), and try to explain a bit of evolution. As his simple hillbilly mind struggled with these new ideas, he concluded that white people were "further along in evolution than black people". I patiently explained that was not how it worked, so his next conclusion was that black people descended from a "less evolved ape". The conversation went on for a long time. I persist because I think this one has potential and is worth the effort.
TomTomBinks
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Jun, 2017 10:46 pm
@TomTomBinks,
Chai, did your elderly friend live in my town?
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Wed 21 Jun, 2017 11:23 pm
@TomTomBinks,
Laughing could be.

This guy you were talking to. It sounds like he wasn't expressing any hatred (unless you just did share), more like "well how else could it be? That's just the way things are."

2 quick stories for everyone. Off topic. One I heard on NPR, and the other is personal experience.

This black woman on an NPR segment was saying how she was related to all the people that lived up and down her block. To her, when she was little the world was a very safe and loving place. One day, riding her tricycle, she felt adventurous and crossed over to the next block. Up ahead was a bus stop, and 2 unbelievable beings sat there....an elderly white couple. She had never seen white people before, and so logically assumed they were ghosts. Her assumption was confirmed when she hesitantly waved at them. The old man at that moment starting a hacking cough. The girl knew then that that was how ghosts talked.

My own grandmother moved to the U.S. when she was 13. She came here alone, but was living/working for a family from "the old country" It was in an urban area. One day she was coming back from the store, and one doors that lead to the basement of a building opened up, and a black guy climbed out. She had never seen, never even heard anywhere that people came in different colors (she grew up on a farm in Poland in the late 1890's)
She ran back to her house screaming that the devil had come up to the surface.



Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jun, 2017 10:34 am
@chai2,
This reminds me of a movie. I believe it was Logan's Run. I don't remember much of the movie other than the story line and this one scene where an old woman shows up and all the young people living in this society never saw anyone over a certain age (they basically killed people once they reached like 30 or something like that).

They all reach up touching her face and saying things like - do those cracks in your face hurt?
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jun, 2017 09:38 pm
@snood,
snood wrote:

There is no person now, and there has never been a person who in your opinion could objectively be called a racist?


Well, I guess people who committed genocide, or stood on state house steps to defend segregation could be safely called "racist" although I think the word "objectively" is problematic. The word "objectively" implies that any reasonable person, regardless of their political ideology, would agree which people met the criteria of racist. This becomes problematic when the word racist is now being used for a broad category of things ranging from graffiti on mosques to hoop earrings.

In any rate, the OP isn't talking about genocide, or oppression. She is talking about her judgment of the internal mental state of her neighbors. It is certainly objective. When you are using a derogatory word to describe your judgment of your neighbors, the nuance of the exact word doesn't matter.

I am sympathetic to racial issues... I grew up in an interracial family and my kids are mixed race. I am only talking about words here. If you are going to have a dialog with someone, it is better to be specific about what the issue is. If you are going to give your feelings about people of whom you disapprove to people who already agree with you, than the specific words used to describe these emotions don't really matter.

We just lost an election. A turning point was when Hillary talked about a "basket of deplorables"... this was a phrase that was cheered by her fervent supporters. I realized what a huge tactical error she had made when I went to Topsfield fair during the election (a local agricultural fair in Massachusetts). There were many stands all selling T-Shirts to the effect of "I am a deplorable!". This was the time I started to fear we were going to lose.

There are two different types of communication going on here. If you say to your friends "he is a racist", you are expressing an emotion to someone who already understands you and shares your point of view. You both understand the emotion and the beliefs behind the emotion. The dictionary definition and any objective test of this racism are really not important. It is a shortcut to a shared understanding.

If you are talking to a general audience, or to people outside of your political bubble, the phrase "he is a racist" doesn't have the implicit meaning. It is a vague term that probably won't mean anything to the people who are listening. In this case, you need to be more specific. For me to talk about how my son was upset being followed around in stores is a specific story that people can understand and perhaps relate to. The generic term that is being applied to so many different ideas doesn't have much value in this case. And, it may be detrimental to communicating your ideas as Hillary found out.



maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jun, 2017 09:45 pm
@maxdancona,
The discussion about the continuing effect of implicit racism in society is very important. This discussion includes educating people about what is happening, how it impacts real people and what can be done.

The discussion about whether you think your next door neighbors are racists isn't so important.
0 Replies
 
TomTomBinks
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jun, 2017 09:49 pm
@chai2,
Not hatred, you're right. Just an ingrained belief that he (whites) are better. He, and many like him young and old are "stuck". They resist change with a desperate resolve. They resist new ideas. They resist learning ('specially book learnin') if it goes against their time honored beliefs or it makes them uncomfortable. This one, I'll call him "Eric" (mostly because that's his name, I have no reason to call him "Jim" or "Steve". That would just be weird!) began showing some curiosity years ago and I decided to keep at it. It started with food, then beer, then wine and finally it's progressed to ideas. I think there is hope for him.
My parents also grew up in Poland! My mother in the city of Czestochowa, my father in a rural village. In the 1920's when my father was a little boy he saw someone ride through the village on a bicycle. It was the first one to ever pass through. The kids all thought it was neat, but the older folks shut their windows and doors and crossed themselves, later saying it was "of the Devil" because how could one balance on two wheels like that ?!
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 22 Jun, 2017 10:36 pm
@TomTomBinks,
So our parents are (were) about the same age. They were born in 1923 and 1924, but in the U.S.

I wonder what they (yours and mine) would have made of the interwebs, iphones and the Kardashians?



Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Fri 23 Jun, 2017 04:22 am
@chai2,
Although there is nothing wrong with using bigot, which originally meant a religious fanatic (and so the implication of a belief in one's superiority), the term elitist comes to mind. I would be troubled by the use of racist or sexist, absent any antipathy toward others. Chauvinist would be completely inappropriate, as it means an elitist nationalist--the term was hijacked by radicals in the 1960s, which is a poor excuse to use a word to mean what it was never intended to mean.

I'd say, go with bigot, It pretty well means what you seem to want to say.
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