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View Diary: Dear bigoted lady I work with: (151 comments)

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  •  I am reminded (37+ / 0-)

    of the following passage in Robert Heinlein's Friday.  The bit in parentheses is the narrator's internal monologue.

    "... But a mixed marriage is always unfortunate, I think—especially if the girl is the one marrying below herself, as in Ellen's case."

    "'Below herself!' All I've been told is that he's a Tongan. Tongans are tall, handsome, hospitable, and about as brown as I am. In appearance they can't be distinguished from Maori. What if this young man had been Maori . . . of good family, from an early canoe . . . and lots of land?"

    "[...] Intermarriage with Maori has long precedent behind it; one must accept it. But one need not like it. Mixing the races is always a bad idea."

    [...] "So? Vickie, this built-in suntan of mine—you know where I got it?"

    "Certainly, you told us. Amerindian. Uh, Cherokee, you said. Marj! Did I hurt your feelings? Oh, dear! It's not like that at all! Everybody knows that Amerindians are— Well, just like white people. Every bit as good."

    (Oh, sure, sure! And "some of my best friends are Jews.")

    People can rationalize bigotry of certain kinds even while vehemently rejecting other kinds.  It happens all the time.
    •  I'm currently in school pursuing a degree in psych (15+ / 0-)

      And we've been discussing this paradigm for some time.  In fact, I have had a few knock down, drag outs with mi professori about this.

      His rationale is this:  fear.  People inherantly fear what they don't understand.  Even the slightest touchstone to what they know is better than something they just plain don't.  The other major fear is that they've been wrong all along.  People hate admitting they're wrong (see also:  Please proceed, Governor).  People will go to the firing squad insisting they were right all along, and that one day you'll all see that they were.

      The point of this ramble is that my previous world view has been challenged and challenged and challenged again by reality.  I had some thick rose coloured glasses on when it came to mankind's inherant goodness.  I'm learning, slowly, that while mankind may be inherantly good, the environment in which we exist is consistently toxic, and that leads to bad end results.

      "Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level, and beat you with experience every time." --Unknown

      by Subwoofer of the House on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 11:56:30 AM PDT

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      •  Fear is a big part of it. (6+ / 0-)

        But another part of it is just an unwillingness to discard, or even reexamine, what we think we know.  I don't feel that it's accurate to characterize that unwillingness as fear exactly; it's not coming from quite the same emotional place as "if this isn't true, then that means I've been wrong, and that would be terrible."  It's barely coming from an emotional place at all; it's just a very deep-seated reluctance that almost everybody has, and it also sits at the core of such things as (f'rinstance) confirmation bias.  Even people who actively enjoy having their preconceptions challenged can have trouble with that.

        •  Actually, (8+ / 0-)

          being proven wrong on a core concept of your identity has exactly the same biological and psychic effect on a person as does, say, being threatened with death, rape, or mutilation.

          Identity crises arise all the time from such things.

          Bear in mind, I'm paraphrasing a great deal of material into a few pithy sentences, and as such, much may be lost in the translation.  I know we have quite a large number of Psych Kossites...anyone care to chime in?

          "Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level, and beat you with experience every time." --Unknown

          by Subwoofer of the House on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 12:16:46 PM PDT

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          •  Oh, that's certainly true. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JerryNA, Tom Anderson, Steve Canella, GAS

            And fear would absolutely be a big part of that kind of thing.  That's the sort that is coming from the emotional place of "if I'm wrong, then that would be terrible."

            But people can have immense trouble changing their minds even on things that aren't core concepts of their identity.  Even on things that they're not emotionally invested in at all.  Like -- I'm trying to think of a better example, but this is the only one to come to mind -- like the old canard about how bumblebees shouldn't be physically able to fly.

      •  I felt sure you were going to mention George W (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alice kleeman, DvCM, wishingwell, Sue B, LMS44

        Bush who, when asked if he had any regrets about his choices during his eight years as President, couldn't come up with anything, even something very slight.  That man can not accept that anything he ever did was in the slightest wrong.  He comes from such a life of privilege that his business failures before his political life were covered up by family friends bailing him out, and it continued as people would continually claim that they were at fault, not George on any/everything that ever turned out less than perfectly.  I'm sure in his own mind he's perfect.

    •  I haven't read that book (10+ / 0-)

      in ages.

      "Your mother was a test-tube; your father was a knife."

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 11:59:01 AM PDT

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    •  on my copy of the book "Friday" (paperback) (1+ / 0-)
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      is pale white (and showing cleavage).  I hate it when the cover illustrator doesn't read or know the book at all.  Or did the editor want the art "fixed" so it could sell better?  Who knows.

      •  I suspect we have the same edition. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Randomfactor, davewill

        Is this the cover illo?

        The cleavage showing isn't entirely out of character, and the hairstyle is right, and the jumpsuit actually matches the description of something she wears at one point in the book ... but her coloring is so completely wrong.  I don't know if that was the artist's choice or the editor's; either way I suspect it was done to make the cover "more appealing" to a broader range of readers, rather than from not having any clue what the character was supposed to look like.  (Or a third possibility: someone very carefully described the character's clothes and hair, but left off coloring, and the artist just assumed white by default.)

        Le sigh.

        •  You can blame this one on Heinlein himself (0+ / 0-)

          He left skin color out of his descriptions, then sprung it on the reader in the above scene. Trying to trick a possibly bigoted reader into identifying with a brown protagonist? If you didn't read carefully you would miss that detail.

          "Nothing happens unless first a dream. " ~ Carl Sandburg

          by davewill on Thu Mar 21, 2013 at 02:31:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That scene's pretty early in the book, though (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            madhaus, davewill

            and our protagonist doesn't describe herself physically at all prior to that, except by implication (such as how men find her sexy).  The only way we even know that she has the short hair illustrated in the picture is from a scene far later in the book, where she expresses her ignorance of hairstyles by saying that she's always styled her hair by cutting it off when it gets long enough to get in her face.

            I don't think it was a trick, tbh.  Heinlein very seldom described his first-person narrators with anything like hair color, eye color, height and so forth, unless and until it was relevant to the plot -- and sometimes not even other characters they interacted with, either.

            ... of course, he did get quite a lot of "stealth" people of color in his books that way.  The first hint we get that Manuel O'Kelly Davis's family (in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress) isn't entirely white is when Earthside bigots react negatively to "the range of color" in his family photo.  The only color description we get of any member of his family before that is a mention that one of the women is blonde; we're already identifying with the Davis family long before we hear that detail.

            So maybe it was on purpose, now that I think about it.

            (On the other hand ... just how carelessly would you have to read to miss that?  Because Friday's skin color actually is a relevant point there.  Unlike, say, the notoriously and widely missed color detail about Rue in The Hunger Games.)

            •  That mention above is the only one I can remember (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Batya the Toon

              and it isn't really ALL that integral to the plot. The fact that she's genetically enhanced, and is outraged enough about the bigoted treatment of her adopted daughter is the real driving force.

              Anyway, I suspect that illustrators and marketing people don't really read the books...Although I would have thought the Heinlein would have had to approve the cover art.

              "Nothing happens unless first a dream. " ~ Carl Sandburg

              by davewill on Fri Mar 22, 2013 at 09:34:48 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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