I agree with the node's title, but I think that some of this discussion involves emphasizing different aspects of the situation
in ways that change the subject of the argument subtly. Some contention
- Whether or not one has the option of choosing to be a member of a particular religion is dependent on one's situation (as gitm points out). In contrast, there is no situation in which all beliefs are voluntarily chosen. It is not within my power to believe that I have seven tentacles, even if I wanted to do so. However, there is some degree of belief-revision available. How to do this is a point of contention (in that most people want to accuse someone of believing contradictory propositions, which is bad, but most people will also admit to believing contradictory propositions if asked appropriately--whether they're right or not is a difficult question to answer, or even really understand).
- In response to Millennium, there is a logical leap in your argument. You claim: religion and race share a quality (being at the core of one's being). Therefore, what is possible of one is possible of the other. It seems to me to be entirely possible to hate something which is very important to someone, without hating them--your conclusion is not well-supported. In fact, the centrality of something seems to be essentially irrelevant.
- Props to elwoodblues for this sentence, "'Religion' is a hierarchy of values that someone chooses to observe, respect, and follow. it guides thought, action, and belief, for better or worse." I like this description a lot, because it shows that there's a connection, but not an identity, between religion and belief.
- In the actual world, those who claim to hate a religion seem to act essentially similarly, and from similar motives, to those who hate on the basis of race, at least most of the time. This is not inconsistent with the title of the node, though it may have been Saige's intent to suggest that these groups are very different; so I don't think I disagree fundamentally with gitm, I just think s/he's generalizing from the way things tend to be to the way they must be.
Here's the difference that I see: religion (almost) necessarily guides actions in some important ways--otherwise, there's no point. Race need not. Since race isn't created by humans (except possibly in the social constructivist
sense, but don't worry about that for now), it doesn't need to have a point--we are perfectly free to assume that it's the result of a bunch of nondirected deterministic processes
to which it is inappropriate to apply teleology
. Religions aren't like that--people created them, so they MUST have a purpose, a way they change the actions of their adherents. If one doesn't like those changes, one probably doesn't like the religion. It's possible to hate those actions, but still approve of at least some of the people who do them.
With race, it doesn't work that way. There's nothing substantive to dislike, so hatred gets targeted at the person as a whole. To be fair, this is completely theoretical--in actuality, I suspect that a lot of what racists object to involves the culture they associate with the race they hate; that sort of hate is much better than hating the race for its inherent qualities (which are generally minor physical differences), but the thinking of racists is often unclear
enough to confuse the two.
For contrast, consider two people. Jack hates blacks. All of them. For no reason other than their skin tone. If a black person grows up and acts just like Jack, the hate will remain unabated. Jill, on the other hand, hates predominantly black culture
. She believes that most black people lack values she considers important, including education
and hard work
, and she thinks that this culture encourages racism and lack of responsibility. Were she to meet someone who was black, but shared the values Jill holds dear, the hatred would be absent.
I have a problem with judging other cultures by one's own standards
, and with assuming that someone of a certain race must be influenced by a particular culture, but these are surely kinder forms of racism than Jack's. If Jill were to take the further step of making no assumptions about the values of all people she meets until they demonstrate their values, I would have difficulty finding her to be racist, even if it happens that all of the black people she meets fail to gain her approval. The outcome is the same--Jill hates all of the black people she meets, but it's clearly not as bad, because it's an escapable hatred
. I'm not saying she isn't doing SOMETHING wrong, but even if it IS racism, it's not the worst sort, as exemplified by Jack. There are those who will claim that we should not make these distinctions lest we become tolerant of Jill's form of racism, and I can understand that argument and support it as a guide for action towards real people, but so long as I'm just sitting at my computer thinking about the nature of hate, I'm okay with it.