Rule number one about racism: Don’t generalize!

by , under Enrique

It is amazing that people who should know better have never learned one very important fact: Don’t generalize about ethnic groups.  We’d avoid a lot of harm to ourselves (living in the narrow world of hate and racism) and others (labeling and victimizing) if we stopped generalizing about ethnic groups.

The suggestion by Kai Haavisto, a Perussuomalaiset (PS) Uusimaa regional committee member, who wrote on a Uusi Suomi blog that certain refugee groups should be chemically castrated before permitting them to live in Finland, is a perfect example of how racism is spread and maintained in this country.

PS MP James Hirvisaari, who was fined in December for inciting ethnic hatred, adds more hate and racism to Haavisto’s suggestion by stating that “we should talk openly about gang rape” because in some African countries, like South Africa, such a crime is a genetic trait and “a national pastime.”

Hirvisaari only has a high school degree but PS MP Jussi Halla-aho has a PhD in linguistics. Halla-aho got convicted for defaming a religion and spreading ethnic hatred when he suggested that Somalis live off social welfare because it is a genetic trait.

In Finland and elsewhere, racism is kept alive because some people believe in old wise tales about ethnic groups. They believe these old wise tales in the same way as children believe in fairy tales or in Santa Claus.

When people are hostile and racist to other groups when they generalize, their aim is to show how different they are from us. Since they are so “different” it permits me to be racist towards them because they are “a threat.”

The big difference between fairy tales and racism is that the latter causes harm to society and especially to their victims.

Let’s get one matter straight: There is no such thing as national character because societies are too complex. This a fact that should be taught at school and to adults. The behavior we have is learned – not instinctual.

If we want to undermine racism and control those prejudices we learned, it is important that we start teaching our children at school that it is a grave mistake to generalize about ethnic groups.

If anything, such a lesson would be one big blow to our racism.