I need to get something off my chest that has been bothering me for a very long time.
I’m talking today about the idea that people who belong to any minority (be it female, gay, black, Hispanic, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, etc.) must all think alike and support all of the same things. That is not only utter nonsense, but it is the most vile form of prejudice. Just because a person is Gay does not have to mean that he or she must become involved in every Gay cause. Just because a person is black does not mean he or she must support every entitlement program over tax cuts and more jobs. Just because a person is a woman doesn’t mean she has to support abortion or put her child in Daycare so she can have a career. Yet, I recently read an article where a member of the ‘Women’s Movement’ said that she ‘looks down’ on women who stay home and have children. The NAACP has made it clear that both Alan West and Dr. Ben Carson, two successful but, unfortunately for them, conservative black men, are merely Uncle Toms, tokens, or tools of the white man and not really black at all. I have read of fatwas issued against some successful American Muslims who dare speak out against radical Islam.
To say that one is not bigoted, prejudiced or racist, one must believe with absolute certainty that ALL people are individuals and are entitled to their own belief systems. To criticize any member of these groups for not following in step with their ethnic group is the very essence of bigotry. Just as the majority white male is allowed to have his own ideas about the issues that affect us today, so, too, do all minority members.
I have watched with dismay as some women have been put down and black-listed by other women for daring to speak out against the herd and suggesting that there should be limits placed on abortion or for daring to be content to be a ’stay-at-home’ mom rather than pursue a career. I have been disheartened to see the name calling directed at blacks and Hispanics for daring to speak out against entitlement programs or blanket amnesty for those persons in the country illegally. Death threats have been issued against Muslims who speak out against the militant interpretation of the Koran, preferring instead to support the pluralistic society in America. Since when are we required to check our individuality at the door in order to belong to a minority? It’s as if being in a minority is like being in a private social club. If you don’t follow the rules you are kicked out of the club.
The irony is, that, in order to qualify for membership in these clubs, you can’t just be one of them; you must think and believe exactly as everyone else does. In other words, you must become a stereo-type. Isn’t that precisely what we have been fighting against for the last 40 years?
Hillary Clinton, Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin are perfect examples of what we in the women’s movement always knew that women could one day achieve. When the women’s movement started, the goal was that women would be allowed to succeed at whatever they chose to do and still be able to have a family if that is what they desired. Here are three hugely successful women (whether or not you like them, agree with them, or support them), who broke through the men’s club and are rising to the top of their fields, yet two of them are being blacklisted, mocked, and ridiculed because they do not follow the female club rules and think as everyone else in the women’s club does. Alan West and Dr. Ben Carson are both successful black men who have broken the color barrier to become respected leaders in their fields. Yet they have been subject to the kind of vile ridicule and hateful name-calling that should embarrass anyone who followed in the steps of Martin Luther King, Jr. Now, I ask again, since when must we all think alike?
I do not expect that everyone should like everyone. I certainly do not expect that everyone should agree with everyone. On the contrary, that would belie our individual natures. However, I do expect that we give people the RESPECT they deserve for achieving their goals and for NOT allowing anyone to dictate how they think. It is time that we start recognizing bigotry in it’s truest form. Regardless of who one is and what minority from which he or she comes, one must always be an individual first and a group member second. Otherwise, we are just a bunch of mindless lemmings being led off a cliff.