Racism and Religion
Racism, Bigotry, and Discrimination
This article is one man's opinion on a somewhat sensitive and controversial topic. It is not my intent to offend anybody, and if I do so, then I apologize in advance.
On April 25, 2014, taped phone conversations from September 2013, between Donald Sterling and his girlfriend, were made public through TMZ, a celebrity gossip news center. On these tapes, Sterling made multiple racist remarks pointed toward Afro-Americans. Since Sterling was the owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, his comments caused a nation-wide uproar.
Subsequently, Sterling received a life-time ban from the NBA, and ordered to pay a fine of $2.5 million. It was also strongly suggested that he give up ownership of the Clippers. Since the Clippers were playing in the NBA play-offs, the sports networks talked the issue into the ground. It seemed like the impact of this news rivaled that of the Brooklyn Dodgers moving to Los Angeles, or that of the profusion of steroid use in major league sports.
For the sake of brevity, I'm going to refer to Afro-Americans, Haitians, and all dark-skinned persons as "Blacks", Latin-Americans as "Hispanics", Asian-Americans as "Asians", East Indian persons as Indo-Americans, and everyone else as "Whites". Please don't send me comments explaining why these terms are not entirely accurate, or that you don't approve of some of the terms. If I were to distinguish between Hispanic Nicaraguans and Hispanic Hondurans, or Swiss Whites and Canadian Whites, then this article would take forever to write.
Color, creed, sexual orientation, intelligence, etc., has never made a difference to me. I've never played favorites. I've always treated everyone equally. That is one of the luxuries that human beings are afforded; we don't have to adhere to "survival of the fittest" and "the runt of the litter dies" theories. I was four years old, and going to school for the first time, when I became aware that there were races and creeds, other than my own. It didn't matter...We all laughed, cried, napped, ate, played, and wet our pants, just as every four year old does. My parents never distinguished between Blacks and Whites, Jews and Gentiles, tall and short, fat and skinny, educated and not educated, etc., so neither did I. In fact, the notion of someone judging someone else, based solely on the way they looked, was not even a consideration for me.
When I was six years old, during my first bus ride to school, we stopped and picked up a Black girl. The only seats available, were those in which you had to sit next to another student. This girl, probably about 11 or 12 years old, sat down next to a White boy who was about 10 years old. What I saw next really opened my eyes: This boy's face turned bright red, he scooted away from the girl, so much so that his head and shoulder were pressed against the bus window, and tears of utter disgust dripped down his cheeks. That was the first time I was made aware of racism.
The foundation of racism is discrimination. A simple definition of discrimination is prejudicial treatment based mainly on a how a person appears. I don't think that people are born racists. I believe that if people grow up in a household where racist remarks are made on a consistent basis, then most of them will become racists. Of course, outside of the home, racists would be better served by not revealing their racism. But no matter how you slice it, whether inside or outside of their homes, they are still racists.
Most people say that racism is a function of ignorance; that if racists knew more about the different races, then they would realize that race, creed, or color, describes a person's look, not their character. I have no idea whether racists would change their views toward minorities if they knew more about them, and to understand that a person's look has nothing to do with their character, would be a radical change in a racist's idealism, not their intelligence.
My high school's population was about 50% Black and 25% Hispanic. The remaining 25% consisted of Whites, Asians, Indo-Americans, and everyone else. Every single day, I was witness to racially motivated fights. They were mainly one-one-one fist-fights, but occasionally groups of kids fought each other, and sometimes knives were used. There was one incident, when a gang of girls cornered a PE teacher in the stairwell, and put him in the hospital for two weeks.
Religion and War
I was seeing racial violence in the hallways, and studying religious intolerance in History class. Up till then, I thought that the purposes of war were to protect one's nation and possibly acquire more land. But I quickly learned that many large wars, where millions of people perished, came about due to a difference in religious beliefs. From what I've read on the subject, the concept of separate religions, goes back thousands of years, to when tribes distinguished themselves from one another. Tribes developed their own customs, garb, and belief systems. This separatist's approach to religion hasn't changed much.
For example: The Old Testament decreed that only certain foods (Kosher foods) were fit for consumption by Jewish people. The meaning of "Kosher" is "fit". Muslims and Catholics were also various dietary restrictions. Wedding ceremonies vary from one religion to the next, rites of passage differ from religion to religion, etc.. Each religion has their reasons for their way of doing things, but none of these differences have intrinsic value. In other words, following the values of one religion will not make you healthier, smarter, stronger, richer, etc., than if you were to follow a different religion. One can have spiritual happiness and/or believe in a superior being, without following any official religion. I can't think of any tangible reason as to why different religions have gone to such lengths to distinguish themselves from one another,
All religions think that their beliefs should be everyone's beliefs. Each religion might tolerate the others, but there's no doubt in my mind, that most Rabbis, Bishops, Priests, Cardinals, Popes, etc. disfavor interfaith marriages, just as racists disfavor interracial marriages. Well, people...That's bigotry; a biased view towards people who have different beliefs than yourself. In my opinion, bigotry, discrimination, and racism, are more or less the same thing. The only difference between bigotry today, and bigotry during tribal times, is the level of our intolerance. Tribes used to kill anybody who wasn't a member of their tribe, in order to protect their value system, whereas now, we only burn crosses, burn cities, have school shootings, have wars every decade or so, and assassinate paragons of society. I guess some people might call that "progress."
What percentage of Americans do you think are racist? Well, believe it or not, according to the Associated Press, 52% of Americans admitted that they held racist views. I conservatively estimate that the racists who took this poll, but did not admit that they were racist, is 10-15%. That means that roughly 2 out of every 3 Americans are racist. In all honesty, I wasn't the least bit surprised by these numbers. I received 3 comments on my "illegal immigrants" article, and 2 of them were racist remarks for which I did not approve. I received 6 comments on my "gun control" article, and 4 of them were racist remarks for which I did not approve.
So, Donald Sterling is a racist. How surprised can we really be? The only thing that surprised me, was that this was considered news-worthy. If I were the head of TMZ, and someone brought me those taped conversations, I would have said, "Okay...So what?"
And, four weeks later, people are still talking about it. Anyone who sees this as a big deal, has no conception that racism is as prevalent now, as it was in the 1960's, and might be even more prevalent than it was pre-Civil War.
So, how can we combat this epidemic? Levy fines to every racist we discover, and force them give up their property? Are we to say that racists don't have the right to their opinion, no matter how flawed they happen to be? Or are we only going to penalize racists who are in a position of control, and who can decide whether a minority is promoted or terminated. I'll leave it to all of you to contemplate those questions, and I'll add just one more: There are 30 NBA owners. Do you think that Sterling is the only racist among that group, or is he the only one who got caught, so far? I am firmly in the camp of the latter.
You can draw your own conclusions about the origins of racism and why racism persists, and you can distinguish between racism, discrimination, and bigotry, but the fact remains: Racism, discrimination, bigotry, homophobia, ageism, chauvinism, physicalism, tattoo-ism, pierce-ism, height-ism, weight-ism, IQ-ism, etc., will never go away, and the only thing I feel, whenever I see it in the news, is embarrassment.