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Group Prejudice

Jul 01, 1996 01:06 PM
by uscap9m9

Group Prejudice                                                                 

Sometimes we hear that it's wrong to say that people belong to a                
particular group tend to be a certain way. This would be like                   
saying that people in a certain ethnic/cultural group (subrace)                 
have or participate in certain attributes and experiences that                  
are particular group.                                                           

We're told that it's wrong to describe groups and their                         
characteristics because particular individuals in a group have                  
the freedom to differ. We're expected, therefore, to pretend the                
groups don't exist and deny anything we know of the groups,                     
because at the individual level there are exceptions and the                    
ability to differ. (Say, for example, people that participate in                
the lifestyle of an Eskimo participate in the influence and                     
psychic environment of a particular collective awareness that                   
might be called the "Eskimo subrace".)                                          

On the other hand, we're told that groups are very real and that                
our behavior, expecially if offensive, is not only explainable                  
but perfectly justified because of our group membership. Someone                
might state that "It's just fine that I'm aggressive and even                   
offensive, since I'm American, and that's how American's are!"                  

Is there a paradox here?                                                        

I'd say that whatever we do, it's an individual choice, with                    
individual responsibility, but that it would be judged as good or               
bad in the context of our particular culture. An Eskimo killing                 
a wale for food might, for instance, be judged differenly than a                
Japanese fisherman. We have a definite and real influence upon                  
us of the culture and groups that we participate in, but in the                 
final analysis, as far as we're concerned, "the buck stops here",               
that responsibilty for our words and deeds lies at our own feet.                

-- Eldon                                                                        

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