Race and bigotry are obvious themes in this year’s Primary elections leading to the Mid-terms. Here are some thoughts on Bias and Bigotry from a variety of American literary sources.
“The door of a bigoted mind opens outwards so that the only result of the pressure of facts upon it is to close it more snugly.” -Ogden Nash, author (1902-1971)
“The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs, and explosions, and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy; and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own for the children, and the children yet unborn.” -Rod Serling, writer of the science fiction TV series The Twilight Zone (1924-1975)
“Let us consider that we are all partially insane. It will explain us to each other, it will unriddle many riddles, it will make clear and simple many things which are involved in haunting and harassing difficulties and obscurities now… That is a simple rule, and easy to remember. When I, a thoughtful and unbiased Presbyterian, examine the Koran, I know that beyond any question every Mohammedan is insane; not in all things, but in religious matters. When a thoughtful and unbiased Mohammedan examines the Westminster Catechism, he knows that beyond any question I am spiritually insane. I cannot prove to him that he is insane, because you never can prove anything to a lunatic–for that is part of his insanity and the evidence of it. He cannot prove to me that I am insane, for my mind has the same defect that afflicts his. All democrats are insane, but not one of them knows it; none but the republicans and mugwumps know it. All the republicans are insane, but only the democrats and mugwumps can perceive it. The rule is perfect; in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane. When I look around me I am often troubled to see how many people are mad [gives long list]… This should move us to be charitable toward one another’s lunacies.” -Mark Twain “Christian Science” (1835-1910)
“If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and color, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon.” -George D. Aiken, US senator (1892-1984)
“The mind of a bigot to the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour on it, the more it contracts.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., poet, novelist, essayist, and physician (1809-1894)
“Racism tends to attract attention when it’s flagrant and filled with invective. But like all bigotry, the most potent component of racism is frame-flipping — positioning the bigot as the actual victim. So the gay do not simply want to marry; they want to convert our children into sin. The Jews do not merely want to be left in peace; they actually are plotting world take-over. And the blacks are not actually victims of American power, but beneficiaries of the war against hard-working whites. This is a respectable, more sensible bigotry, one that does not seek to name-call, preferring instead change the subject and straw man.” -Ta-Nehisi Coates, writer and journalist (b. September 30, 1975)