It is difficult to admit that the U.S. is a nation in which prejudice and bigotry hold sway far too often. It is even more difficult to admit to ourselves how much prejudice we each harbor. It is easy to pass off some overgeneralization about a group of people that we have, and feel secure in having ample reason to hold onto that belief. Some bigotry is obvious, some is not. It is the latter that is more dangerous to our democratic society. But both kinds parade themselves far too often.
"In Rhodesia a white truck driver passed a group of idle natives and muttered, 'They're lazy brutes!' A few hours later he saw natives heaving two-hundred pound sacks of grain onto a truck, singing in rhythm to the work. 'Savages!' he grumbled. 'What do you expect?" -Gordon W. Allport
"A prejudiced person will almost certainly claim that he has sufficient warrant for his views." -G. Allport
"Opinions founded on prejudice are always sustained with the greatest violence." -Francis Jeffrey
"There are few liberals ... who have not a well-furnished compartment of race prejudices, even if it is usually suppressed." -Gunnar Myrdal
"...another Negro hung naked from a tree. In the background a Klansman held aloft a large American flag." -Jacob Javits
"I believe in white supremacy until blacks are educated to a point of responsibility." -John Wayne
"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves." -Abraham Lincoln [look what the man who shot and killed Lincoln had to say...]
"This country was formed for the white, not for the black man. And looking upon African slavery from the same viewpoint held by the noble framers of our Constitution, I for one have ever considered it one of the greatest blessings (both for themselves and us) that God ever has bestowed upon a favored nation." -John Wilkes Booth
"Law, in a democracy, means the protection of the rights and liberties of the minority." -Alfred E. Smith
"Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment." -Albert Einstein
"We are all citizens of one world, we are all of one blood. To hate a man because he was born in another country, because he speaks a different language, or because he takes a different view of this subject or that, is a great folly. Desist, I implore you, for we are all equally human ... Let us have but one end in view, the welfare of humanity." -John Comenius
"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone." -Jesus of Nazareth
With the election of the first black President of the United States, we are at an important crossroads. We have an opportunity to use that historical breakthrough to elevate us as a people, or we can focus on what we see as mistakes and fail to realize our potential as a nation, a nation of example for the world. Barack Obama is not an oversimplification of this or that, he is a man with whom I often disagree but a man who shows this nation great potential. His speech on race was a historical and intellectual milestone. His speech at West Point was wonderful. His speech at the Nobel Peace Prize event was humble and expressed opinions of the United States that pleased more conservatives than liberals. Compared to the Democrats and Republicans who occupied the White House before him, he stands tall with integrity and aptitude. Bigotry and prejudice have been shameful in saying they hoped he failed even before he was sworn into office, questioned his birth in Hawaii, called him a socialist, labeled him a Moslem, placed him in an international cabal to overthrow America, etc. Of course those are ridiculous statements, but the hope among the bigots is that if they throw enough mud at the wall, some will stick. Shame on them. Shame on us for coddling them. Shame on us for giving any quarter to bigotry.