And then he sent an article entitled “Don’t call me a racist.”
The article had the normal confusion between racism and prejudice. The author claimed racism can’t exist without *he personally* being prejudiced, then therefore racism couldn’t be that big of a problem. The whole article was based on this false – but sadly, widespread – premise. I mentioned this to my correspondent, and pointed him to some of the articles on this blog.
My thought was that he would read it. Having at least some knowledge of me, perhaps he would read and see how my thinking has expanded over the last eight months. Despite my occasional forays into obscure nooks of sociology, he’d find something that we could talk about. I expected, at worst, him to tell me that I was wrong. Even that leaves room to talk.
“I stopped reading,” he replied, “because I got tired of hearing you be so full of yourself.”
Okay. Right. Well, this is a personal blog. I tend to use myself as an example whenever possible. So I suggested that maybe I was, but I expected something better than that from him. Argument, yes. Telling me I was wrong, surely. But just an ad hominem slam?
“Quit the guilt trip,” was the reply to that.
It did surprise and disappoint me. The sudden shift from at least vaguely discussing things to blatant attacks did more to label him than anything else he could have said. What can one really say to that kind of unreasoning, unthinking propaganda?
So I wrote him one more e-mail. When he’s ready to talk – even if he disagrees – I’ll listen. When he’s ready to be civil, even about this controversial topic, I’ll be here. In the meantime, I have too many things to do than spend time dealing with such unreasoning hate and discontent.
It is a shame, but maybe that’s what we need to do in more of our life. There’s a stark difference between pointing out problems and just being mean. There’s a difference between pointing out logical flaws and logical fallacies. The former are things we can – and should – heed. The latter… well, as much as we might feel badly for them, their only interest is in seeing the rest of us fail as badly as they think they have failed.
It is only after they realize their failure is simply their own making that they can be free. The bars of their prison – prejudice, hatred, and fear – are theirs to build or destroy, not ours.
We can only hand them tools, and hope that they are inspired by our journey to try to catch up.