Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Need To Know

Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.

At the same time, fatigue is setting in. [American Muslim leaders] wonder: How many more times will they have to condemn violent extremism before non-Muslim Americans believe them?
Fellow Americans' suspicions frustrate US Muslims

People assume most Christians are heavy-handed, pushy, intolerant bigots bent of dominating any other culture or idea and supplanting it with their own whims because, for the most part, the ones who speak up the most ARE heavy-handed, pushy, intolerant bigots bent on dominating any other culture or idea and supplanting it with their own whims. It sucks. It's horrible. And it's the what everyone of any faith, political idea, or lifestyle has to deal with. People always focus on the loud minority who ruins everything. And like any other group, the only way you can combat this is making your views and, in this case, your kindness and actual testimony louder than the hateful prattle of those hurting your beliefs.
Something Positive
In effect -- once a negative stereotype about a group is demonstrated to have some truth to it, any individual or subset that wishes to be regarded differently must take the burden of proving that they do not conform to the stereotype upon themselves. This is a pernicious idea that releases the rest of us of a requirement of understanding the people around us. To be blunt, a kernel of truth sanctions a level of bigotry. (One of these days, I think, I am going to have to sit down and deal with the topic of bigotry.) We have become too accepting of this idea that the loudest, most violent or most present members of a group form the default picture, and that it's up to others to paint a new picture. Where in this understanding is the idea that the rest of us have some sort of responsibility to understand the people we interact with? Why should people always have to explain that they aren't "that kind" of Skinhead? Is it REALLY that hard to drop in on Wikipedia for a moment and do some quick reading? And if you, like me, are leery of using Wikipedia as a source, the good articles have lots of references, since the site frowns on original research and unverified claims.

The modern world is not a game for the passive. We're better off when we actively seek out information on other people, rather than shifting to them a burden of proof that they aren't who it might be convenient for us that they be at the time.


JohnMcG said...

On the other hand, shouldn't there be some incentive for the less extreme elements of a movement to police the extreme portions of it?

Let's imagine a world where mainstream pro-life groups could get away with not denouncing violence like the murder of Dr. Tiller. Is that a better world? I don't know. I suppose it would be nice if I could assert a pro-life viewpoint without being confronted with arguments along the lines of, "What's 'pro-life' about bombing clinics? Huh?" But at the same time, I tend to think that the knowledge that those engaging in violence will face sanctions not just from those opposed, but also those who share their views, has the desirable affect of disencentivizing violence.

Or maybe not. Maybe those who engage in violence are irrational and don't respond to incentives.

But if the trade-off is there, I'm willing to accept a certain level of this bigotry for a lower level of violence.

Aaron said...

I don't know that I'm imagining "a world where mainstream pro-life groups could get away with not denouncing violence like the murder of Dr. Tiller." What I'd like to imagine is a world where mainstream pro-life groups aren't required to denounce the murder of Dr. Tiller in order to be understood to not be complicit simply because I don't want to be bothered to understand that the pro-life movement is not monolithic. I understand that they might have a responsibility. But I have one, too, because it's my laziness that would allow people like Shelley Shannon and Scott Roeder to paint their mark over the whole of the pro-life movement.