However modest one may be in one's demand for intellectual cleanliness, one cannot help feeling, when coming into contact with the New Testament, a kind of inexpressible discomfiture: for the unchecked impudence with which the least qualified want to raise their voice on the greatest problems, and even claim to be judges of things, surpasses all measure. The shameless levity with which the most intractable problems (life, world, God, purpose of life) are spoken of, as if they were not problems at all but simply things that these little bigots KNEW!
In some cases, I am able to respect what so many call bigots. Such people have a more solid foundation for drawing their lines when it comes to the security of their ways and quite possibly the security of mankind. They rely on something that has worked to get man this far without placing ideals blindly driven by emotion first; they have a sure line and they say, 'No.' That, in a sense, is something I find to be highly respectable.
Until one nation ceases its attempts to dominate another, there will never be true freedom. Until one religion relinquishes its quest to prove its god superior to that of another, there shall never be world peace. We will never truly prosper or experience lasting harmony, until we refrain from preaching the gospel of our own moral values and our personal preferences by forcing it upon others.
Initially, the purveyors of racism need no more than the silent acquiescence of the public ... [I]t is never too soon to confront bigotry and racism whenever, wherever, and in whatever form it raises its ugly head. It is incumbent upon all people to confront even the slightest hint of racist thought or action with zero tolerance.
That's the myth of it, the required lie that allows us to render our judgments. Parasites, criminals, dope fiends, dope peddlers, whores--when we can ride past them at Fayette and Monroe, car doors locked, our field of vision cautiously restricted to the road ahead, then the long journey into darkness is underway. Pale-skinned hillbillies and hard-faced yos, toothless white trash and gold-front gangsters--when we can glide on and feel only fear, we're well on the way. And if, after a time, we can glimpse the spectacle of the corner and manage nothing beyond loathing and contempt, then we've arrived at last at that naked place where a man finally sees the sense in stretching razor wire and building barracks and directing cattle cars into the compound.It's a reckoning of another kind, perhaps, and one that becomes a possibility only through the arrogance and certainty that so easily accompanies a well-planned and well-tended life. We know ourselves, we believe in ourselves; from what we value most, we grant ourselves the illusion that it's not chance in circumstance, that opportunity itself isn't the defining issue. We want the high ground; we want our own worth to be acknowledged. Morality, intelligence, values--we want those things measured and counted. We want it to be about Us.Yes, if we were down there, if we were the damned of the American cities, we would not fail. We would rise above the corner. And when we tell ourselves such things, we unthinkably assume that we would be consigned to places like Fayette Street fully equipped, with all the graces and disciplines, talents and training that we now posses. Our parents would still be our parents, our teachers still our teachers, our broker still our broker. Amid the stench of so much defeat and despair, we would kick fate in the teeth and claim our deserved victory. We would escape to live the life we were supposed to live, the life we are living now. We would be saved, and as it always is in matters of salvation, we know this as a matter of perfect, pristine faith.Why? The truth is plain:We were not born to be niggers.
There is, after all, no moral difference between the bigot and the tolerator. They are from case to case positive or negative. One man is bigoted because he was given the sword of truth, another because he is angered in thoughtlessness; then, one man is tolerant because he was given the flag of peace, another because he is cowardly and wishes to hide all guilt.
It is the philosophers, theologians, and evangelists who are said to be filled with pride and bigotry due to the strong convictions that they represent. On the contrary, teachings can be either taken or dismissed; whereas voting is the only thing the average person can do to force everyone to live how they would prefer. A simple vote is among the largest yet most acceptable forms of bigotry, and that is because people play the card only when they feel that in doing so it conveniences themselves.
Antisemitism is unique among religious hatreds. It is a racist conspiracy theory fashioned for the needs of messianic and brutal rulers, as dictators from the Tsars to the Islamists via the Nazis have shown. Many other alleged religious 'hatreds' are not hatreds in the true sense. If I criticise Islamic, Orthodox Jewish or Catholic attitudes towards women, for instance, and I'm accused of being a bigot, I shrug and say it is not bigoted to oppose bigotry.
If he were allowed contact with foreigners he would discover that they are creatures similar to himself and that most of what he has been told about them is lies. The sealed world in which he lives would be broken, and the fear, hatred, and self-righteousness on which his morale depends might evaporate. It is therefore realized on all sides that however ofter Persia, or Egypt, or Java, or Ceylon may change hands, the main frontiers must never be crossed by anything except bombs.