Why does intolerance get so much attention in the media?

by , under Enrique

Why does racism, xenophobia and intolerance get so much space in the media and so little condemnation by politicians and society? Is it because racism strikes a chord inside of us or is it because we are taught from a very early age to leave if alone? 

We can make the following argument as well: Do we give too much attention in the media and blogs like Migrant Tales to politicians who make their racist views public? Would turning our backs on them make the problem go away?

It’s pretty clear that silence is a poor response to a social ill like racism. History has taught us that if you don’t openly challenge intolerance, it will grow and not only live another day but many.

There is another important question we should be asking: If we are taught that racism is bad, why do we have so few tools to challenge it?

Jennifer Harvey, an associate professor of religion at Drake University in the United States, offers us some insight.

You can read her blog entry, “For Whites (Like Me): On White Kids,” here.

Harvey writes:

So, if it’s your 4-year-old starting to notice darker skin (which happens when we raise our kids in predominantly white environments), the platitude “we’re all the same underneath” implies they’re noticing something they shouldn’t and insinuates there’s something wrong with darker skin we must need to overlook (meanwhile, your child hears remarks about beautiful blue eyes and blonde hair all the time). How about discussions about and images of the many different beautiful shades of dark skin instead?

And continues:

I know “everybody’s equal” means “we all deserve to be treated with fairness.” And when we tell kids we’re all the same underneath skin, gender, sexuality, physical abilities and other differences we’re trying to tell them we share human dignity and worth.

Obviously, I believe these things.

But, have you ever actually met a “generic” human? Someone without a race or a gender?

Well, guess what? Neither has your child.

In many respects, we do the same thing in Finland. We speak about the virtues of “social equality” but in fact we are taught at the same time to be colorblind and see everyone as “we’re all the same underneath.”

One way to put the issue in context is to replace the word “migrant” with “women.”

Would it be ok to make a case for sexism and claim that the only purpose of women in our society is to make children and serve their chauvinistic husbands?

Certainly not!

If you think of it, this is exactly the argument that anti-immigration groups are making: Migrants have no rights, you are second-class citizens, go back to where you came from.

We know such a statement is wrong because we are taught that “we’re all the same underneath.”