Friday, February 10, 2012

Between bias and prejudice

I don't like African priests.

I say that not because it's important or has any influence on the world at all --unlike the rest of Ex Cathedra's rants, which are, as we know, culture-transformative-- but because it's an example of the bind we get in when we take our absolutizing moral cues from the State-as-Church, that any kind of discrimination, prejudice, bias and bigotry is The Fundamental Moral Evil.

I have known, usually by living with in community, only four or five African priests.  Of course, I never knew them in their native habitat, only as foreign visitors. Having lived in a foreign country, I know that it re-shapes how you can present and express yourself. Nevertheless. In general I found them narcissistic, grandiose, manipulative and irresponsible...all in all, rather sociopathic.

So, on another blog, where a Dominican student-brother (priest-to-be) from Africa has been holding forth, I quickly developed an antipathy toward his blogger-persona. He is actually not too smart --there are in fact dumb Dominicans. I also find that he plays on his exotic origin to try to bluff Europeans into letting that pass. One of his regular ploys is to start out by agreeing, then wind up telling you that while there's truth in what you say, it's not really very nice and Christian and so we can ignore it.

His latest post attempts to shift partial responsibility for the Rwanda genocide onto some kind of flawed or sinful element in the European missionaries' message. Somehow because Christianity was introduced along with "colonialism", this explains part of the grotesque failure of that society's Christians, including its nuns and clergy. When I pointed out that he was chasing a rainbow, that Christianity hardly ever arrives in some kind of pure ideal form and that other Christian peoples, peoples evangelized for over a thousand and a half years, still regularly went to war with each other, and that the problem was most likely that Rwandans were humans, not badly evangelized victims...he did his schtick. Though there was truth in what I said, yet parts of the missionary's work was (unspecifiedly) sinful and that since traumatized Rwandans read his blog "we" must be very sensitive in what we say...

This is a tiny example, but if you have a regular, common, experience of certain types of people (and people do come in types, otherwise there would be no such thing as culture), it would be odd not to develop both an attitude and an expectation. A Heideggerian fore-having, fore-seeing and fore-conception, if you will. But if you are still willing to change your mind based on new experience, though, then you can be both biased and prejudiced but not bigoted!

I feel so much better having written this. I'm sure you do, too.

1 comment:

Leah said...

Rant away, it helps us to have you give voice to our vices.

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