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Why? It’s A Logical Question

Give the bigots credit for one thing: They don’t try to hide. Most of them seem never to have heard of the old saying about the devil convincing humans he doesn’t exist.

Last week, we carried a story and an editorial about an event at Temple Shalom in Wheeling. It included a discussion of bigotry against both blacks and Jews.

Less than 24 hours after we published our editorial, I received a letter from a woman wondering — in an accusatory tone — why we weren’t doing more to stop an alleged Jewish conspiracy to take over the United States.

I’ll answer that: Because we try very hard not to report fiction as fact. There is no Jewish conspiracy to make slaves of gentiles.

Every year at about this time, as the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday approaches, my thoughts drift back to the day, probably about a decade ago, when I was doing some banking at a walk-up window. A sign advised the bank would be closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

A man in front of me noticed it and commented, “Just another (n-word).”

So no, the bigots — and there are all sorts of variations of them — aren’t shy about reminding us they’re in our midst.

Think about this, though: Nearly 330 million people live in the United States, according to the Census Bureau. If just one-tenth of 1% of them are bigots, that’s nearly 330,000 people who think some human beings aren’t as human as they are. That’s a lot of prejudice.

Some of it is in Congress, by the way.

For those with a sense of history — or, better yet, personal experience — there are reminders that it hasn’t been that long ago that institutionalized racism literally was the law of the land in some places. Keep your eyes open at yard sales, and it’s possible to find old textbooks that, stamps inside their covers inform us, were for the “free colored schools” of West Virginia.

I suspect the reason behind segregated schools was to keep white children from playing with black children — and coming to the conclusion that underneath our skins, we’re all alike.

Try explaining slavery to a child, as I did. As much as I told the 7-year-old about its existence and how some people got away with enslaving others, she just kept asking, “Why?”

I still haven’t come up with an answer. Ditto for why white pioneers and native Americans were so vicious toward one another 250 years ago, by the way.

That’s something to celebrate this Martin Luther King Jr. Day: If not tainted by adult bias, kids will, on their own, react to stories about bigots with the logical question: Why?

Reach Myer at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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