I just saw a documentary on racism in Canada. I noticed a pattern. The violent white supremist leaders were all overweight and had round pig-like faces. Round faces are currently not in fashion. I noticed they appeared to be poorly educated. They appeared to be living close to poverty. There were a few younger skinheads who might be considered physically attractive by the Calvin Klein standards of the day, but they tended to espouse more moderate views.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes

What if you woke up each morning and looked in the mirror and saw a beady-eyed pig staring back at you. There is not much you could do about it. What if you had no particular skill or talent. What if you had a dead-end job. How could you feel good about yourself?

You might try drugs. At least for a few hours you can live in a fantasy world where you are important.

You have to find something special about yourself. You might pick your favourite sports team or brand of automobile. You might pick your nationality. You might pick your race. You then have to set about convincing yourself that your race is so overwhelmingly superior to every other that it makes up for all your personal failings. You have to find like-minded people who will fire each other up with rhetoric about their superiority.

However, something goes wrong. Clearly you and your friends are losers. The only way you could possibly be superior is if the other races are grossly inferior, so inferior they don’t even deserve to live. So you start focusing on the worst members of the underling races, you exaggerate and you make up and repeat lies about them.

You might use violence. You can feel important from your ability to terrorise others.

You also need an excuse for your lack of worldly success. The underling race serves as the scapegoat. They took your job from you that rightfully belonged to you. You really have them over a barrel. If they are employed, they stole your job. If they are unemployed, they are lazy welfare bums stealing your tax dollars. If they run their own businessses, they are ruthlessly exploiting you.

The Solution

There is a natural tendency to want to vilify racists as the scumbags of the earth, to force them to admit they are lowest of the low, beneath contempt. However, I think that is counter-productive. We need to do the opposite — help these people find some other way to feel good about themselves — to discover unused talents. It may be too late to reach those running the hate groups, but it might not be too late to reach the 5 to 9 year olds who will become tomorrow’s racists.

TV espouses an ethic — winning is everything. You are supposed to be ashamed just for being average or below average. By the very nature of mathematics half the population has to be below average. This over competitiveness just leads to misery and it encourages crazy responses like racism. The solution then is to challenge this ethic every time it rears its head.

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