It’s very easy to marginalize people who are different from you, labeling and dismissing them with an air of arrogant superiority. This is an equal-opportunity danger – open to all races, geographies, and political parties.
So, as a public service, I offer you 7 ways you can look like a really stupid bigot:
1. Assume that people are racist if they disagree with your particular agenda. Be sure to paint them with a broad bush, especially if you have no concrete evidence of their bigotry. And, do remember that only certain designated groups can possibly be guilty of racism. Others, by definition, can only be victims.
2. Assume that people are stupid if they don’t agree with your particular opinions. Especially if they don’t live in your slice of the nation, vote for different candidates than yours, or don’t sound urbane and “nuanced.”
3. Call groups that differ from you by dismissive and insulting names, like “tea-bagger.” It makes you look hip among other smug elitists.
4. Assume that people with religious sentiments are thoughtless boobs. After all, you worked hard to attain your intellectual and moral relativity. So now that you understand that there’s no definite right and wrong, you can feel good about being…right. Ooops.
5. Indulge in ad-hominem attacks, treating individuals who advance agendas different from yours with hateful spite and name-calling, and avoiding actual engagement with intellectual and philosophical arguments. That would be beneath you. Stick with character assassination.
6. Perpetuate divisive stereotypes – all the while accusing those different from you as promoting divisive stereotypes. Those racist, religious, hateful rubes that occupy the country’s “flyover territory”? Well, it’s OK to stereotype them, as long as you get to do the stereotyping…
7. Assume that a failure to learn from the past earns you the exalted title of “progressive.”
All of these (and more!) are excellent ways to look like a stupid, smug bigot. I can respect those who have different convictions and are prepared to engage in vigorous, honest debate. But bigots don’t want light to shine on their convictions. They just want to slap down anyone holding a lamp that shines with a different color…