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July 01, 2009

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It's this way on many web sites. The anonymous nature of comments has a lot to do with it. Maybe newspapers get many letters to the editor filled with ugly statements, but I somehow doubt it. If you have to sign your name, and you're listed in the phone book, you tend to be much more civil.

I kept to myself on that other post. Thank you for take on the situation, Neal.

I've seen and heard all sorts of racist acts from every race. There are good and bad people regardless of race they are. In the 20+ years I've spent with my company, I've been invited to eat dinner from some who couldn't really afford it and been treated like dirt from those who should know better. Arab or Jew, Black or White; it makes no difference. Treat every one with respect and dignity.

Jerry.....nicely said.RWH- you are so right....it's pretty easy to be a big man behind a key board.

What I have learned is that the racism hurts the racist so much more than anyone else because the offended party can walk away. The racist has to wake up with himself every morning...yikes.

It definitely hurts. One of my co-workers is going through a discrimination review right now. I doubt he will get fired but this will affect his promote-ability. If he ever had a chance at getting into a supervisors position it is gone now.

I'm so glad I read this post this morning, you worded it so well. Racism is so ridiculous & wasteful no matter who it is coming from & whoever it is directed against. I am a white hispanic & I cannot tell you the number of times I have overheard such disgusting comments from people who don't know I am hispanic or don't see me as hispanic & so feel completely comfortable making their racist comments in front of me & not understanding why it upsets me & then of course adding "but I don't mean you, you are white". It is so hard sometimes not to get upset or emotionally involved when you hear someone being ignorant, and you just want to change them from thinking that way, & it is really hard to work around people who think that way & feel justified in judging people they don't even know because of their culture or religion or whatever they may believe about them. But you are so right when you said racism fosters racism, it is so negative & nothing good comes from it. I try to not even waste my energy on such negativity.

I laughed out loud on the comment about hating censorship (see what I leave up on my sunday posts)! This is a good reminder to all to be watchful of what they say or write.

"Your preconceived notions about other people are costing you a fortune so stop it right now – for your own good."

That is exactly true. Here's a personal example. I went in to a new barbershop for the first time the Saturday before Martin Luther King Day. Half-way through my haircut the barber - who I had never met in my life - begins spewing racist comments regarding how he had to work through the "holiday" and how it wasn't fair that those people had a holiday, etc, etc.

I stood up, took off the apron, paid the man, and said I preferred to get my hair cut by someone who wasn't a racist. Then walked out - with half a haircut - and went to another barber shop to have them finish the job. Sure I had to pay twice for one haircut, but it cost that barber my business and the business of my 2 sons, my father, and basically everyone from my church 2 blocks down the road.

He went out of business just a couple months later, and to this day he probably has no idea why his business dried up.

The responses wow me.

Perhaps I am naive but I would have imagined that ignorant racist remarks were few and far between. I'm learning that many us encounter this kind of stupidity much more often.

Makes me want to be even more vigilant. Also, Tom.....that is an amazing story. That's inspiring to me.

Racisms and stereotypes exist for a reason - generally because they are true for the most part. Listen to Bill Cosby regarding his thoughts on his own race and I think you will agree with him.

Mike.....Sure...you're right. 100% - so long as you don't know anyone who happens to belong to a minority.

Your statement is hurtful, hateful and frightening.


I think some stereotypes are based on some examples but when used to make sweeping generalizations lose value. It's better to keep your own stereotypes in your mind and use your power of observation and listening skills to size up every situation.

I think being overly PC can be stifling - there is a balance to be struck between being open & free speaking vs being hurtful. That said, the anonymous comment forum allows people not have to use their normal 'filter' and can just speak out without fear of recrimination. This is, in part, what makes the internet such a great and open forum but the other side of the coin is people are just as open with their prejudices.

Prejudice stems from the human ability to make a pattern based on a few data points. Sometimes it's and incorrect assumption, sometimes it is accurate. But individuals are unique so you must be open minded with each person.

I encourage the readership to travel around the world. Every nation and society has their own preconceptions of different races and nationalities. But the US and the UK has some of the worst PC-at-all-costs attitudes I've seen.

-Mike

Mike,

I completely agree with your well-made point on "PC" - it is stifling. And you are right again on the value of open exchange.

I live in the USA, even though we are very PC, I don't worry about recrimination and that colors my perceptions. So I figure, if I am not proud of saying something, I should be silent. That's been a helpful approach for me. I don't hesitate to attach my name to my comments. I don't know how I'd feel if I lived elsewhere - thank goodness I live in a country where we can express ourselves.

I have a very strong political view but I try to remember, it's about the principles and not personalities. I demonstrate against a policy but try not to attack the people behind it. Personal attacks never help. So when I speak about politics I am not PC at all and I'm not silent either - but I try not to attack the person on any level. (I have not always adhered to this to be honest).

Here's an example that worked I think.

I responded to your comment rather than you. I didn't say YOU are a hurtful person but I did attack your comment. I hope that as a result, you felt more inclined to respond. As a result of your response, I've learned something. Had I attacked you and you responded in kind, where would we be? Certainly not learning.

When I wrote the post and comment, it was not for want of staying within PC guidelines but what I really feel.

I know that we have preconceptions of people. If I get into a cab and I see a driver with a certain ethnicity, I may indeed have an initial reaction. It's going to be natural - unfortunately. I don't see how that helps me in any way.

So, yes, I have preconceptions but I will tell you this. They don't help me or anyone else. I am cautious with EVERYONE.

If somebody is a jerk, I move on. It doesn't matter to me what group they belong to. Plenty of idiots in the world to ignore.

I think the circumstances have a lot to do with this discussion. I had a business meeting with a person I later learned was Muslim. It was a great meeting and I'd have him to my home anytime. If I went to a pro-Israel rally and saw him demonstrating on the other side of the street, I doubt I'd have the same inclination.

I don't see that as a racist act because, if I see a person arguing against something I value highly, he's shown me who he is - I'm not judging him on what he is.

I think it makes more sense to let people show you are before making a judgment.
In my experience, you usually don't have to wait too long.

Neal,

Totally agree with your points. The key point you raised is to hold off consciously judging a person until after some time, this is good for business and overall in life. But pay attention to your subconscious mind which alerts you if something doesn't 'smell' right and prejudice is included within that filter. It may literally save your life.

Every society has it's sensitive points. I am a US Citizen living in Thailand. Out here it's major major taboo to criticize the king or the royal family. Can get you thrown in jail for 15 years. Lack of freedom of speech.

But the US has it's taboos as well. For example, critizing the investigation of 9/11 as insufficent (would WTC building 7 really fall at free fall speed without a direct hit from an airplane, did it have some 'assistance') would quickly label you as a nut job conspiracy freak, I think it's pretty inappropriate given the positive value of debate.

Critizing Obama would put you off with the majority of Americans, so that's a bit of a taboo. Being critical of government unions including teachers unions generally doesn't fly as they are sacred cows.

I'd encourage you to get outside the US if you can. The world is a big place and the US doesn't have the monopoly on freedom nor opportunity nor quality of life. Every place has it's pluses andd minuses, US included. The people who think the US is the best in the world and that other countries are inferior are really self-delusional or just plain unaware.

Have a great 4th of July!

-Mike

Thanks Mike,

I agree w/your points. Actually, I've spent a year in Germany, a year in Mexico and 5 years in Israel - which I loved and love. It made me appreciate the USA much more (especially living in Mexico and Germany). Having said that, I do agree that we have our taboos also - and it's a shame that honest debate doesn't seem to have a welcome mat out in too many places these days.

Off to the fireworks! Come back home Mike....the USA needs you!~

Neal

Neal,

I'll be back... as soon as I can find meaningful work in the US. It may be a while! Do you know of any good job opportunities for business heads / CEO's of small companies in the So. Cal area? (I know, I know I'm asking to come to ground zero of an up & coming bankrupt state but call me a sucker for punishment).

-Mike

I'll keep my eyes open Mike. Stay in touch.

My parents were immigrants from Germany, and faced prejudice because they initially spoke broken English. My mother was taught English by her only friend - an African-American girl. Because of this girl's kindness to my mother, I tend to be tolerant of people that are different from me, be it color, religion, or orientation. On my own website, I try to watch the comments like a hawk, and have deleted some that I thought were in questionable taste. I try to run a clean website, so some censorship may be necessary.

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