RACISM IS A COWARDLY FEAR OF DIFFERENCE
Re: “Racism talk at U of L”, Page A3, the Lethbridge Herald, March 22, 2009
I am worried about too many references made to ‘ethnic gangs’ in the media. I agree with Prof. Watson: “the very idea of race necessarily leads to racism.” I think basically racism is a primitive fear of unknown, dregs from tribal societies. Instead of appreciating novelty, cowardly people are afraid of difference in other people and form negative opinions about them. Prejudice against disabled people, against homosexuals, and those who dress, look, and speak /think differently is a poison of our society.
A long time ago, I complained once in a letter to the editor of a Japanese magazine about discrimination against Koreans, who were brought to Japan as slave labors and have been discriminated against ever since. The hate mail I received subsequently amazed me. The basic tone of their objections was based on prejudice: “They eat smelly food,” “They have accent,” “They are criminals,” etc. Media played some role creating such an undercurrent by reporting too often about Korean criminal gangs, a large number of Koreans in prisons, etc. It was much like the way Asians, Blacks, First Nations, or Latinos are spoken of today. It used to be Italians, Irish, Jewish in the early twentieth century. (Read Annie Proulx’s “Accordion Crimes.”) They were not “White, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant” therefore automatically considered to be suspect in those days. Today, Koreans are the most successful minority group in Japan, just like the Italians, the Irish, and the Jewish descendants in our country.
We have to face the fact that there are still discriminated peoples. When a society spontaneously and systemically treat a certain group of people as outsiders, they have to find some way to survive and defend themselves. Law and society don’t work for them. So they form their own groups. Cultural, religious, and social groups, and sometimes criminal gangs.
I don’t condone criminality. Crime must be dealt with according to the law. But we must understand why they become anti-social. If we don’t, any anti-crime measure is ineffective. If there is no major effort to include different peoples into the main stream of society, any legal measure will fail. Worse still, the problems may increase because it is well known that prisons are often schools for criminals.