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BIGOTRY: REAL VERSUS IMAGINED
Carol Moore -
12/10/07 Version
 
It is very easy for politically confused, dominating or disruptive individuals, groups or government entities to sow dissension by exploiting the very subjective ways that “bigotry” can be regarded by various people. The fact that people may be members both of groups which have oppressed others and ones that are oppressed makes things even more confusing and subjective. That is why all of us must be aware of the various categories of real and imagined bigotry.  Awareness can make one sensibly wary of those who are quick to make harsh accusations.  Let us all be willing to discuss the issues of bigotry, domination and oppression openly, honestly and without hostility.

REAL BIGOTRY
 
The following are categories of real bigotry, though whether specific words or acts fall into them can be highly subjective and open to debate.
   
HARD BIGOTRY: Hatred or dislike of, or contempt for, members of any group because of sexual, racial, ethnic, religious, or other characteristics; can be held by members of both oppressor and oppressed groups, including towards members of their own group; can be anger or revenge for past or current wrongs, real or perceived; or can be ideological; not easily ameliorated.
 
IGNORANT BIGOTRY: Can be similar to hard bigotry, or a product of insensitivity, poor education, unfamiliarity with members of other groups, or immature attempts at “humor”; but individuals are capable of changing attitudes with education and association with members of the disliked groups.
   
SOFT OR COVERT BIGOTRY: Not aware of, willing to admit, caring about or willing to speak out against the oppression suffered by members of any group, including out of fear of retribution from oppressor groups.

 
IMAGINED BIGOTRY
 
The following are categories of imagined - or even falsely charged - bigotry, though whether specific words or acts fall into them can be highly subjective and open to debate. These categories can overlap.

CONFLICTS AMONG OPPRESSED GROUPS OVER RELATIVE OPPRESSION:  Members of groups oppressed because of sex, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion or class may clash over which group represents the "most basic form of oppression," or suffers the most oppression in general or in specific situations.  They also may clash over whether members of a group banding together for mutual protection and advancement itself becomes oppressive, either within small segments of society, or especially when the group gains sufficient clout in government to advance their agenda.  And, of course, there may come a point when the great majority of people within the larger society may feel that "in-group solidarity" of one formerly oppressed group has become more oppressive towards the majority than any current oppression suffered by the oppressed group. 
 
OPPOSITION TO ANY MENTION OF GROUP DIFFERENCES:
Anyone, including members of oppressed or oppressor groups, may oppose any mention of differences within or among sexual, racial, ethnic, religious, etc. groups for any reason, claiming that is bigotry.  This may be one means of dealing with the conflicts over relative oppression. However, too often it is manipulated to suppress complaints about oppressive behaviors by lone individuals or organized groups of individuals.
 
OPPOSITION TO ANALYSIS OF OPPRESSION:
Anyone, including members of oppressed or oppressor groups, may oppose having their motivations and behaviors analyzed or studied, even by academics, and claim that any such effort is inherently bigoted.  As above, this may be one means of dealing with the conflicts over relative oppression. However, too often it is manipulated to suppress complaints about oppressive behaviors by lone individuals or organized groups of individuals.
   
OVER-REACTION TO ANGER OF THE OPPRESSED: Those in denial about, or who do not understand or sympathize with, oppressed groups’ real oppression may assert that angry statements or analysis are bigoted; when members of one oppressed group complain about the behavior toward them of another oppressed group they may find themselves charged with bigotry.  However, it is true that at some point the anger of the oppressed may itself becomes bigotry against all members of the oppressor group, although that will always be a matter subject to debate.
 
OVER-REACTION TO INNOCENT MISSTATEMENTS: Anyone,
including members of oppressed or oppressor groups, may claim that clumsy or inaccurate, but innocent, statements are bigoted; the willingness to explain and/or correct such statements is useful to deciding if statements are bigoted.
 
FALSE ACCUSATIONS:
Anyone, including members of oppressed or oppressor groups, may falsely claim words or deeds are bigoted; they even may claim people have made statements or committed acts they have not; the motivations for false allegations may be paranoia, impulse to protect one’s group, bigotry, and/or gaining or maintaining economic, social or political dominance and supremacy.  Exposing and fighting false accusations is especially important when they are made to intimidate or dominate.