Aug 18, 2010

Dictionary definition: Prejudice

"2 a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b : an instance of such judgment or opinion c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics"
The Codoba mosque controversy couldn't fit the definition more snugly. The proposed Islamic centre is considered an "insult" to the dead, a "descecration" of their memory, etc, only if you first impute to this one Islamic centre the "supposed characteristics" of the group as a whole — namely a proclivity for terrorist activity. If you look at a muslim and see "terrorist" then yes, you are likely, and free, to take offence. If on the other hand, you disaver any such link, then you logically cannot take offence — your outrage has been demoted to mere prejudice. The opponents of the mosque are essentially mounting an open defence of their right to prejudice. Let us make that connection, they plead. Please, let us be outraged. The fact that the prejudice comes to the party dressed as hurt feelings makes it an even harder nut to crack. Attack my argument, they say, and you attack the victims of 9/11. It's quite fiendish. This one will run and run.

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