I’m puzzled. For me, puzzlement is nothing new, but this one seems like a no-brainer. I’m puzzled by the emergence of blatant prejudice in America!
Socrates’s axiom, “The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms,” points to the heart of prejudice: “a preconceived judgement or opinion . . . an adverse opinion or learning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge . . . an irrational attitude directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics . . . to injure or damage by some judgement or action.” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) (My emphasis)
We came by it honestly. With the potential for injury and death forever lurking outside the cave, our Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon ancestors had reason to ascribe malevolent intentions to anyone who did not appear, speak, or behave as they did. With the evolution of rational thought, the fallacy of prejudging others from insufficient evidence became obvious. Despite their appearance, strangers are not necessarily a threat to my health and life.
Donald J. Trump gave voice and permission for a subset of Americans blatantly to express xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, and otherwise pre-judge others. At a campaign rally, Trump mocked a physically handicapped reporter. Asked to disavow racist Proud Boys, Donald replied, “stand back and stand by.” Charlottesville “Unite the Right” white supremacist and neo-Nazi chanted, “Jews will not replace us.” Trump called them, “very fine people.” Acting from pure prejudice, he banned Muslims from America and labeled Haiti and Africa “shithole” countries. Calling Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas,” Donald insulted both a United States Senator and native Americans. He slandered George Bush’s secretary of labor and his own secretary of transportation Elaine Chao as “Coco Chow.” President Donald J. Trump’s Malignant Narcissistic prejudice culminated, on January 6, 2021, in an armed attempt to seize control of our government.
Nearer the grassroots, Steve Bannon, Alex Jones, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gatez, Kanye West, and Nick Fuentes take pride in bigoted rants. Iterations of Trump-inspired Proud Boys include the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and others.
Prejudice was always there. Like the cork on a champagne bottle, reason and decency held it in. Donald J. Trump popped the cork.