I remember U2 lead singer Bono some years ago being questioned on why so many people seemed to dislike him. We know his image in media is that of someone who’s generally excessively sanctimonious and pompous. He responded by saying of himself that he understood why: if he saw “Bono” as reported on the news, he said, “Bono” would really annoy him, too.
So much anger and ignorance we see currently is plainly rooted in stereotypes that stem from often sensationalist news reporting. Note this ugly letter to the editor that appeared recently in Kingston, New York’s Daily Freeman newspaper. (Kingston is about an hour from where we have our house here in the Catskills.) This bigoted mess was actually composed in 2015:
“Camels, donkeys and goats?” We always like to believe such loudmouthed prejudice lies entirely in “the past.” Clearly, that’s not the case.
When I see rubbish like that, my heart hurts. Suddenly rushing to mind are people I’ve known over the years who definitely don’t deserve such hate hurled their ways. We all have to speak up in the face of such bald-faced ignorance launched so unapologetically and arrogantly.
Might asserting that here cost me some readers? I’d hope not. But someone with that attitude probably wouldn’t read my novels anyway: they are full of non-Americans, contain big (and even a few “foreign”) words, complicated thoughts and interactions, and include several characters who hail themselves, or their parents did, from that part of the world where he fancies everyone is the same, thinks the same, and owns a camel:
About all we can hope for is that cold, closed minds like his eventually let in some warmth and light. To assert that is not to endorse some pollyannaish view that there isn’t trouble with terror and Islamic extremism out there. However, it’s clearly much easier mentally to sit back and embrace caricatures, recoil at the less than familiar, and go along unquestioningly with the opinions of obnoxious politicians, rather than get to know actual people oneself.