“I’m not prejudiced”

I hear people proclaiming this in a variety of ways, sometimes indirectly (i.e. as champions of “diversity”). Of course it’s laudable to be free of something that probably hasn’t got even the most subtle nuance of  “goodness” about it, at least in the context that that word is normally used.

A recent news story about an alleged “honour” got me to drilling a little deeper into the notion of whether one can really suspend or eliminate “prejudice” from their thinking and interactions with others.

I’d guess the usual ‘test’ for prejudice is whether a person’s skin colour, religion, ethnicity or some other immutable personal identifier characteristic negatively predisposes one towards that person. I don’t think it means you have to like everyone you meet; just that you don’t let their unchangeable characteristics determine the issue.

This murder trial highlighted that Afghan culture prizes family honour to a degree that killing to redress family disgrace is condoned. The defendant in this case is, of course, denying he did any such thing, but the evidence makes clear he had an ‘honour’ motive, a pattern of conduct consistent with patriarchal domination and a distinct post-killing lack of parental grief.

If this fellow is convicted, I’d have to say I’m “prejudiced” against him and the sorts of people whose beliefs countenance killing for bringing perceived dishonour their families. To the extent it’s some kind of cultural “norm”, it is an abhorrent, barbaric and reprehensible one. Not to be “prejudiced” against such norms, is a twisted form of tolerance.

I’m just as “prejudiced” about cultures whose values countenance suicide bombing, female genital mutilation, gender-preferred birth policies and various other cultural value practices.

I’m drawn to conclude that the person proclaiming their lack of prejudice, far from being a paragon of good, is someone who is really saying very little about what they think and what they believe in, that is, unless their objective is to be seen as totally devoid of any values whatsoever.

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