Bigotry is Poor Thinking

There are numerous successful arguments against bigotry, and quite precious few in its favor. Bigotry is evidence of rudimentary cognition — it’s a poor way to make decisions, based on a set of assumptions that aren’t true.

It’s tragic to find the need to renew these “arguments” anew again and again, decades and generations after the majority of Americans would prefer to move on. We are being held back by the obdurate third of us in this nation — a radical right who refuse still to this day to get on board with the idea of a federated republic — despite the document their forebears signed, that they themselves swear fidelity to while trampling upon, and with the most reviling gall to do it while claiming patriotic self-righteousness as they shred the Constitution with help from the Federalist Society-installed Supreme Court‘s tyrannous minority.

Bigotry is a Cognitive Error

(a whole class of them, really)

In a broad sense, bigotry is a form of being fooled by appearances. It’s a habit of judging people primarily by their looks and events by their outcomes.

Bigotry is a kind of psychological bias, or set of them, along with a number of cognitive distortions as well. It’s not a good model for the world, and therefore has many undesirable consequences attached to failing to adopt more mature decision-making and conflict resolution skills.

What’s worse is that bigots wear this cognitive vulnerability on their sleeves and, in fact, are prone to bragging loudly about it. On top of simply being obnoxious, it opens them up to manipulation by unscrupulous characters who can predict their reactions to certain events and steer them through indirect means.

Bigotry is Extreme Reductionism

Racism, sexism, and all of the -isms are examples of reductivism taken way too far. Our drive to classify people and sort them a priori into social strata is both common and dangerous. We get the categories wrong, we get the boundaries of the categories wrong, we’re slow to measure the drifts and changes, and generally have a hard time trying to “fix” the chess board via fundamentalist mind games.

Prejudice is a form of black and white thinking — an extreme and extremely inaccurate way of looking at the world and modelling its behavior. White nationalists, for example, have an exceedingly paranoid worldview that sees democracy itself as a conspiracy against white people. And so much of the hyper partisanship of today’s politics are a result of the overindulgence in — and strategic deployment of — bigotry and stereotypes into our political discourse.

Bigotry Violates the Golden Rule

The law of reciprocity is a familiar one, found throughout cultures all over the world over a vast stretch of time. Its core idea is to treat others the same way you yourself would prefer to be treated — to give what you get, in other words.

The prophet Jesus claimed it as his Greatest Commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Buddhists may see the same sentiment embodied in the concept of karma — what goes around, comes around. If you give off negativity, arrogance, aggression, and even violence — those things will be visited again upon you in due time.

Bigotry is Unfair Judgment

Bigotry leads people to pre-judge others based on fixed characteristics like race or ethnicity. The idea of prejudgment is closely related to the concept of motivated reasoning — which is a sort of putting of the cart before the horse, in terms of formal logic.

Prejudice is a kind of unthinking — a sort of passive acceptance of the vitriol passed down by superiors, for the purpose of delivering onwards to whatever scapegoat group is the target of the current regime.

Fairness is better.

Bigotry is Anti-Democratic

This idea is codified in the 14th Amendment, which enshrines equal treatment of all persons under the law. The Constitution itself defies the idea of bigotry, by mandating that the law be applied equally regardless of color, creed, gender, race, or class. We are still struggling and striving to make good on those ideals — to, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “form a more perfect union.”

Comments are closed.