“Children will listen. Children will look to you for which way to turn, to learn what to be,” (Barbra Streisand).
Hatred and bigotry are learned.
You are not born with intolerance; you are shown the way by parents, family members, neighbours and the general public.
One reader wrote that her parents bragged that they would never vote for a Catholic politician, or one of Italian dissent, or German or any other non-WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) candidate.
The writer went on to say that these were the same parents who routinely used racial and ethnic slurs in general conversation, always in reference to their belief that everybody else was a second-class citizen.
She recalled sadly an incident in an American airport where her parents and she were having lunch waiting for a flight when her dad yelled at their server that the server wasn’t American because the server spoke with an accent.
The server was Puerto Rican and the writer said it was sad to note her father’s ignorance, that the server was in fact an American.
After pointing this out to her dad, he retorted angrily, “Doesn’t make any difference. If they’re American, they need to speak without an accent, same with Canadians.”
An irony she says is that his parents were Irish immigrants who had an accent.
“Careful the tale you tell. Children will listen. Tamper with what is true and children will turn,” (Streisand).
“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear. It’s got to be drummed in to your dear little ear. You’ve got to be taught to hate all those people your relatives hate,” (Oscar Hammerstein).
Bigotry and racism often stand in the way of cultural interaction and lead to distrust and crime.
Watch the next time you’re in a grocery store or retail outlet and note whether the person preceding you in line or being assisted is treated equally. You may just see that a Caucasian person is met with friendliness and enthusiasm while the non-white is whisked through the process curtly bordering on rudeness.
Then go to an ethnic community. Is the treatment repeated … in reverse? When you see this, speak out and be a spokesperson for change.
Rural Crime Watch welcomes your input at www.ruralcrimewatch.com.
Jonathan McCormick is a columnist from Rural Crime Watch.
Walt Cobb’s column is unavailable this week.