Saturday, July 4, 2020


I think I was in grade school when this first occurred me. I understand, that if a pre-teen can have this insight, that it might seem blindingly obvious, but, as my father always told me, "'Obvious' is something so crystal clear that you're the only person who see it." So I'm discussing it here today.

When I was in grade school, I had a lot of prejudiced classmates. Of the sort that we would likely call "ethno-nationalist" today. Americans were simply better than non-Americans, and Whites were better than non-Whites. They, as White Americans, were therefore better than everyone else. And their rationale for being better was that they could rattle off, from memory, lists of White Americans who had accomplished Great Things, and their argument to others was the inability to rattle off a more impressive list was proof that they weren't as good.

"Well, sure," I would say in response. "But what have you done, that makes you as good as those people?" About this point is where tempers would flare.

But to me, the point was clear; people judged themselves as better than other people based on membership in a group that had important members, rather than having actually done important things themselves.

The difference between a third-grader and a thirty-year-old in doing this is noteworthy, but perhaps not critical. The thirty-year-old may be convinced that their membership in a particular nationality or ethnicity means that their current less-than-ideal circumstances are the result of them being cheated of their birthright. For the third-grader, it's the establishment of the idea that they have a birthright, and that others should respect that. Both are ways of dealing with scarcity, but for children, that scarcity may not only be an idea, a concern for the future.

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