I had a friend in grad school. He stood up for every cause there was. He was against sexism, racism, and any type of slander against homosexuality. Yet, when I talked about having lived in the South, he said “oh, where everyone walks around barefoot and has missing teeth.” What was surprising, was the fact that he believed his statement. What was even more surprising was the fact that he didn’t see the irony in it.
It was a blanket statement and a stereotype: the kind of thing if levied against women or a minority group would have led to outcry and outrage. Yet, if we are left-leaning, when we talk about people from the south as being “rednecks” or stupid, that seems to be accepted as normal.
Another story: a friend once said: “If a school was founded in the colonies, it must be better.” Ahem, anyone from Stanford want to respond to that? How about Vanderbilt or Cal Tech?
In the documentary “The Secret”, one of the contributors makes the statement that you can’t create peace by being “anti-war”. You have to be pro-peace. You have to be the thing that you want to become. Otherwise, you just end up with another fight on your hands.
Do we not see a similar discourse in America? The Southern states keep becoming more and more “red”. The Northern and Western states are becoming more and more “blue”. However, it seems like there is very little understanding going on. It seems like the Civil War is still being fought.
If those of us who consider ourselves more left leaning want to stop bigotry, we have to stop being bigots ourselves. If we tell people that they are “ignorant rednecks” simply because they hail from the South, the fight will simply continue. People from other places will continue to dig in their heals and take an opposing political or personal view “just because”.
What we as Americans must come to understand is that all forms of bigotry and stereotyping are wrong. All men (human beings) are created equal: whether they are black, homosexual, male, female or come from Jackson, Mississippi. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked that a person be judged by the “content of his character.” This applies to anyone, anywhere. Bigotry is usually caused by ignorance of some form. So, if you want to stop bigotry, stop being a bigot.