A lot of people believe European starlings are pests and invaders. They’re accused of eating food native birds would eat, shoving native birds out of prime nesting spots and pooping a lot. They’re also great breeders.

A lot of people believe Javan Mynas are pests and invaders. They’re accused of shoving native birds out of prime nesting spots, eating crops meant for people and pooping a lot. They’re also great breeders.

A lot of people believe immigrants are pests and invaders. They’re accused of shoving native citizens from prime neighborhoods, taking jobs meant for native citizens and using up resources meant for native citizens. They’re also great breeders.

Some Westerners believe that Jews are liars, cheats and control all the money.

Some Singaporeans believe that Indians are liars, cheats and control all the money.

Some Indians believe that Chinese are liars, cheats and control all the money.

Many Americans believe that blacks are criminals and spread disease.

Many people believe that sex workers are criminals and spread disease.

Many strippers believe that escorts are criminals and spread disease.

Many higher-end escorts believe that street workers are criminals and spread disease.

What’s the real point of having prejudice if it’s all so interchangeable as to be essentially meaningless?

i just like this

Isn’t reverse racism when a racist is nice to somebody else? What [white men] are afraid of is called karma. Wanda Sykes

24 thoughts on “prejudice

  1. This just goes right to the heart of what really matters…”us vs them” is at the heart of so much violence and inhumanity in the world.
    Thank you Amanda.

  2. CA,

    Yes it is. WHY people have the need to make random groups into “others” is the thing I haven’t figured out. Or maybe I don’t want to.

    Thank you.


  3. Prejudice is a product of trying to put oneself above others, to consider oneself as part of a limited (superior) group.

    It’s not completely unnatural but It gets rapidly very destructive very easily.

  4. Amanda

    At some level humans have always been tribal, as are our closest relatives, chimanzees and bonobos. We have an instinct to stick with our tribe, to favor our tribe.

    There are benign levels of tribalism like sports team loyalty (sports themselves being a form of ritualized combat). Then there is tribalism that is distorted into vicous, poisonous things like racism

  5. Jay,

    I think bonobos are the only ones who do tribalism right!

    Nothing wrong with sticking together with people you feel affinity for. Just not sure why it almost always veers off into something ugly when another group comes along. After all, we’re far more alike than we are different. Why focus on the differences?


  6. I was in a meting today, where part of the discussion was pest control. The words that came out of the facilities manager enraged me and still continue to piss me off. And I Quote “the rats have gotten much better since the Bangladeshi moved off site, they are related (sic) to the rats”

    I am beyond the point of comprehension……………

  7. Flatmate,

    Wow. You’ve told me before how Singaporeans associate the Bangladeshis and rats. Though if they’re (supposedly) eating them, wouldn’t the rat population go UP when they leave?

    I’m thinking the recent floods are affecting rats much more than anything else right now. The manager IS aware there was massive flooding, right?


  8. There is so much racism and it just isn’t outed. Mexicans are vicious toward Guatamalan and other Central and South American immigrants but complain about American racism toward Mexicans. Likewise, they are extremely racist towards blacks. The conquest of America by Mexican uteri is of course making things even worse. Chinese and Indian immigrants look down on whites as lazy. Where it will all end who knows? Probably in some vast environmental collapse.

  9. Dennis,

    Oh yes, racism apparently never gets old. Everyone likes to look down on someone else for completely shallow stupid reasons.

    But “The conquest of America by Mexican uteri is of course making things even worse.” Really? You think so? You did read my post, right?


  10. The whole world is festering with unhappy souls…
    …the French hate the Germans…
    …the Germans hate the Poles!
    Italians hate Yugoslavs…
    …South Africans hate the Dutch!
    And I don’t like any-body very much!!! : [

    That’s kind of the way of the world …or so it seems at times.

    Hope U R having fun but being safe. And always…keep on smilin’! ; )

  11. I’m a bit puzzled by your combining these. Introduced birds really do drive native species out by eating their food, stealing nests, being better breeders etc. It’s causing extinction in some species, and seems to me fairly clearly a genuine problem. The human cases, not so much.

  12. Wow so true. Prejudice is such an ugly word and it gets switched around so easily it’s pointless to get involved with it. I really like your blog and I actually had some questions to ask you about men (I don’t want to be an escort though…), but I feel kind of awkward posting them on an internet website. I don’t have a twitter but do you have a business account that I could email the questions to you at? Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. Happy blogging!

  13. Feral,

    Re-read what I said about the foreign vs native birds, then read the following sentences about foreign vs native workers. That’s the entire point I’m trying to make. And for birds, well, if the native birds can’t cope, isn’t that Darwinism in action?


    Prejudice doesn’t have to be an ugly word but the action people take in its name is often VERY ugly. I think that’s what you are saying?

    Look up in the right hand corner of this site, there’s a Contact page with an email address for me.


  14. As a while male why am I forced to pay for my ancestors mistakes? Why is my sister not responsible for those same male ancestors mistakes. We are descended from the same people!

    This quote its self reeks of both sexism and racism.

    In reply to:
    Isn’t reverse racism when a racist is nice to somebody else? What [white men] are afraid of is called karma. Wanda Sykes

  15. WM,

    My post isn’t accusatory of anyone except for those who still hang onto their stupidity-based prejudices.

    The quote I took from Wanda’s performance was during a part in which she was addressing politicians and policy, though this bit is more general. Since the most powerful politicians of the past couple centuries have been old white men, it resonated with me with on many levels. I think the quote is both funny and pointed. That’s why I like certain comedians. (You may prefer comedians with different talents.)

    She’s not asking for anyone to apologize. And I agree. You have nothing to apologize for if you don’t behave in a way that requires apology.


  16. Amanda, although I appreciate a rough parallel (which may help some people recognize their prejudices), European starlings and, for example, Mexican immigrants, are here for very different reasons, with very different effect.

    The phrase, “A lot of people ~believe~..” is misdirection. Such belief is ~valid~ regarding invasive, non-native species. Such belief is ~invalid~ regarding virtually every other group you mention. This confuses reality, with fear.

    European starlings (and many similarly disruptive species) had to be ~carried~ here by man, on purpose, and likely could never have found their way here otherwise. They did not arrive naturally, or at a natural pace, or in natural numbers; they are not exposed to natural population pressures, or natural predators, or natural disease vectors that would keep them in reasonable numbers. While they are here, they can and do contaminate the ecosystem, take up limited nesting sites, and consume food native species at great harm to native species. Those natives ~could~ compete (as they long have done) if starlings were subject to the same pressures as in Europe. Here, though, we see valuable, beautiful, irreplaceable songbirds in dire straits, in part because of ~unnatural~ pressures associated with non-native starlings.

    On the other hand, in this example, Mexican immigrants come here under their own power (although they may seek help to travel, and may not ~want~ to be here, as much as they ~need~ to be). Their presence is “natural,” given the economic distortions caused by artificial borders and trade policies. They are, in a more literal sense than most US citizens, “native.” They are subject to all the same ecological pressures as those citizens (and typically to many more). Although they use resources, they create economic value, or would have no reason to come. Whatever they may consume is compensated at ~least~ equally by the work they do, or they could not afford to stay.

    In short, although concern about non-native birds is superficially similar (and perhaps appealing at a shallow level) it is entirely unlike the true ~prejudices~ you properly compare. European starlings are demonstrably destructive, by many measures. I understand that you may want to mock this concept, but it is ecologically, scientifically sound, and not imagined, emotional, or hateful.

    It is not a “belief.” It is a fact. Respecting that difference is valuable.

    Native birds being unable to cope in the presence of overwhelming numbers of non-native species is ~not~ Darwinism in action. It’s a severe violation of natural processes, and leads to tragic destruction of natural communities.

    Your position is stronger when we retain a focus on ~irrational~ and ~baseless~ fears as the problem. Mixing scientifically sound policies into that argument is a bit like… well… it’s as perverse as saying Hitler had the right idea, given Ahskenazi breast cancer statistics. For the informed person, it confuses the core issue — which is mindless hatred — beyond recognition.

  17. Unblinking,

    My point in mixing dearly-held beliefs was to highlight how stupid they are. Other cultures have learned to live happily with immigrants (both human and animal). Some cultures can’t figure it out. All knee-jerk prejudices are based in similar, stupid beliefs. My opinion, of course. There’s a lot in this world I think is stupid.

    I also believe migration occurs for roughly the same reasons, whether human or animal. We’re not that different. That’s science, by the way.


  18. That was insightful. It’s true that since we all live our lives within the context of our own personal history, we shouldn’t be so quick to judge what others believe is right or wrong. We are all just trying to make the best of the little time we have on earth. Unless you’re out actively trying to damage people then I say we are all good people deep down.

  19. Anna — I’m not sure that everyone is “good” deep down, as lots of people do lots of small things that still cause harm to others (like shorting an escort’s money or being rude to waiters). I don’t know, I think my definitions of evil, bad and good are different than most people’s.

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