Had an interesting chat with the manager of a shop in Amsterdam, who was Italian. When she learned that we live in Germany, she explained that she had done her training in Frankfurt and how much she liked the city. She also said that the time changed her opinion about Germans.
This confirms observations of many about leaning about nation, its people, and its culture firsthand and not through books, hearsay, or prejudices. Everyone should be forced to visit any county about which they hold prejudices, although that would swamp almost every nation with Americans...
_ Why does this headline seen in Huffington Post not surprise me?
“Intelligence Study Links Low I.Q. To Prejudice, Racism, Conservatism”
There is a song from the 60’s that contains a line, “It’s my party, and I can cry if I want to.”
With a bit of tweaking, I devise a new twist that suits my purpose. I can apply the words to anything derogatory written or said about a certain charlatan currently calling Alaska home. The new words are: “It’s my prejudice, and I can have if I want to.”
Of course, I will not but the new book that allegedly reveals the “truth” about her character, past escapades, and ongoing lies. But, I will certainly believe any headline pointing out her eccentricity that I scan.
I have already mentioned that I do not have (many) prejudices. Also, I do not do cliché. (Okay, not too often).
But, last night we were attacked by a cliché…or, at least, had our sleep disturbed by one.
Anyone following this dodgy blog should have noticed that we are staying in a hotel in Miami’s South Beach. We have a duplex penthouse with a Jacuzzi on the top level (yet to be used). There are several suites of this type, some with an ocean view and some with a view of urban sprawl, South Beach style. It is not inexpensive, which might cause one to assume a better level of clientele. Wrong!
Last night, we discovered what our neighbors are like. They are the worst cliché of “modern” Blacks. We were awoken by a loud, drunken party at their Jacuzzi (women were louder than the men), featuring bad music and the kind of language that I do not use or permit my children to use, but features prominently in rap music. After reaching the limit of her patience, my wife called reception to complain. No one should underestimate the wrath of an extroverted German. It must be difficult for any hotel to decide whom to placate, since all have paid the fare. It did become quieter, but not quiet.
My conclusion: South Beach is a place where diverse cultures come together and try, but often fail, to tolerate one another. The only place that it seems to work is at the beach.
This morning, when we mentioned our experience to the Latin maid, who said “Oh, the Black people, it’s always fiesta, fiesta.” And, then, she warned us to always lock the balcony door…which told me something. I miss the Mandarin Oriental ambience (even if it did not have a beach).
I have nothing against any race, color, or creed…as long as they do not bother my sleep, especially with foul language, horrible music, and bad grammar…
The following article in a recent edition of the Guardian got me thinking. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jun/21/new-york-same-sex-marriage?INTCMP=SRCH
I believe that I may have mentioned that I have few prejudices (and those that I have will remain rather personal); none are about a person’s race, color, sexual persuasion, or creed (although I have strong opinions about creeds). I like or dislike someone based upon my judgment of his or her character, personality, and actions.
I dislike prejudiced people and societal conditions based upon prejudice. I vividly recall Segregation in the US, which I witnessed during youthful visits to relatives in Virginia (one of the states where the Confederate flag still waves) has officially ended, even if it lingers in the minds of many. At time, signs on park benches and toilet doors, which warned that these were for “Whites only”, surprised and confused someone that was growing up, going to school, and attending church in Massachusetts. I had learned that the Founding Fathers had proclaimed that “all men are created equal”.
Later, I attended a school with children from Africa and the ghettos of New York. Fellow students rode buses south to participate in marches and returned with gruesome tales of beatings, dogs, and arrests. For some reason, not all people believe in equality “guaranteed” in this country.
My family ignored the labels my bigoted grandmother spouted in the comfort of our home. In junior high school, I knew that kids were Jewish or Catholic, but it meant little. A girl might be Jewish, but more important was her beauty, personality, and...interest or lack there of in me. I did not know, or care, what it meant to be Jewish, any more than I understood what it meant to be Catholic, Episcopalian, Methodist, Presbyterian, or any other of the myriad of “faiths” kids parents forced them to believe in. I recall that one friend could no play, because he had to go to something called confession. I felt sorry for him, but only because he missed playing.
At the Christian (Episcopalian) boarding school that I attended, there were a few Jews and Catholics (I can’t imagine why; perhaps because it was cheap and better than public school). In my first year, there was a boy in the next room. His name was Irving Pitscher (I remember it well, because he always spelled it to prevent people from thinking that his name was Picture). His father was a tailor, so I asked Irving to help me have a pair of pants shortened. I was surprised when he asked me for money, because I was used to friends helping friends for nothing. Needless to say, he did not become a friend: I do not even recall if he remained in school and graduated with us. His behavior had no impact upon my feelings about his kind...only about him.
Too many Christians say one thing about those of which they approve, but interpret their “Holy” bible in another way for those that want to live differently. Blacks may have made some progress in being accepted throughout the United States; women might be receiving some recognition in some fields of society; but gays have a long, difficult row to hoe, before they will be widely accepted. If you don’t believe me, read about the charge being led by a certain evil, bigoted, homophobic American woman (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jun/22/michele-bachmann-gay-republicans) Some politicians will grub for votes in the slimiest of waters. (If it’s any consolation, atheists will have a harder time gaining recognition in that country. Few, if anyone, will touch that political kryptonite).
Still, some things will never change...and I don’t mean prejudice. Civil rights legislation, equal treatment of women, and state laws permitting gay marriage will not end the age-old problem of mothers not liking their child’s choice of spouse.
I have come to believe that most prejudice against other races, colors, or creeds are planted in children by their parents. They are strengthened and become firmly embedded on the playground, when hearing and then sharing similar taunts with peers. If kids were not exposed to such poison in the home, the habit would not fester and grow in later life. This would not preclude having bad experiences with people of different races, colors, and creeds, but it might prevent much unfair treatment of other humans.
My father was the least-prejudiced person that I have known. I never heard him say a bad word about any race, color, or creed. My mother had a few opinions, but kept them to herself. My grandmother, who lived with us, was a hardcore bigot, but no one paid any attention to her occasional rants. My grandfather, who I never knew, had been an official in the Shriners (about which I know nothing; but being a secret society, I can only assume that they held opinions about non-members), which might explain the origin of her opinions and labels she attached to people. She had nothing good to say about any non-WASP that she knew or did not know. I don't think she was aware of what she was saying. We kids ignored her occasional outbursts, taking our cues more from our parents.
My father had grown up in a Confederate state (for foreigners, that's one of the southern states that still suffers pain of losing the Civil War and regrets the end of slavery), where segregation was practiced well into the 1960's (maybe even still today in a less blatant manor). Despite his origins, I never heard him apply any derogatory label commonly used to denote Black people, like those constantly spouted by cousins living in the city of his birth.
I do not have prejudices against groups; I judge individuals by his or her behavior. Signals they send can incite certain negative feelings, but that is not necessarily prejudice. Given the chance, I let them tip the balance by their behavior.
I have often witnessed prejudice being used as something weaker people use to hide behind, to excuse own behavior, or to use to their own advantage. An example of this is one experience as an army officer. Many in my troop were Black, had served in Vietnam, and had a bad attitude. I was white and a figure of authority: the embodiment of all they hated. (But, I had the law on my side). I recall reprimanding one young soldier, who accused me of being prejudiced against him. My response? I explained that I was not prejudiced against Black people; I was prejudiced against incompetent, malingering jerks...of which he was a prime example. That shut him up...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.