Friday, March 11, 2005

Am I a closet racist?

Ya know, I pride myself on not pre-judging a person based on appearance. However, what I 'thought' yesterday calls that into question. I was driving down the street when I saw a man driving a truck in a turban who looked Middle Eastern. In a millisecond I had three thoughts in succession: 1. Is this guy a Muslim? 2. Is he a terrorist? 3. Is there a bomb on that truck? My fear was alighted when I saw that his truck carried the label of a local medical company and I thought 'if he's one of their employees he can't be a terrorist.' I don't know why thinking that he was affiliated with that medical company made me feel better, but it did. Yet, after he went his way and I went mine without becoming another terrorist statistic, I did a double-take. Why was it that his 'turban' made me immediately think he was a terrorist carrying a bomb? What have I implicitly programmed or allowed programmed into my brain that is afraid of men wearing turbans? Racism is usually characterized by ignorance and fear and I had both in this situation. Do I even know why people wear turbans? Answer: No. Do I spend time with anyone who regularly wears turbans? Answer: No. Well, I think I have ignorance pretty much covered. Let's move onto fear. Where have I seen people with turbans? Answer: Celebrating over the death of American soldiers. What have I heard about people who wear turbans? Answer: They are militant Muslims and militant Muslims are all terrorists. If racism's characteristics entail a plethora of ignorance and fear...then *gulp*, I am a racist. However, I challenge you all to think of any group that you have no clue about and check yourself. You too could be closet racists. But let me say this. Tolerance does not mean agreement. Tolerance simply means you respect another's will to believe what they choose to believe. Think about the WWI combatants who used to play soccer with one another before killing each other the very next day (link). This level of respect without agreement is absent in today's political atmosphere. Liberals want us to believe that tolerance equals agreement. It doesn't. Instead, I say take the time to look into things you are ignorant and fearful of and make informed decisions. Be it abortion, tax hikes, the war in Iraq, the school board, etc. don't allow your disposition to cloud your judgement and equally do not allow others to flood you head with crap. You may end up like me: a closet racist. But I'm on the road to recovery because information is power. (check link below) Man killed for wearing a turban.


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