Prejudices kill. We know this well in Europe, where we remember the horror of the concentration camps. You know this, with its long history of racism, in the United States, which was recently recalled on its centennial anniversary by the massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, where a white mob killed hundreds of black and white on the long night of May 31, 1921. it destroyed the homes and businesses of thousands of them. They also know it in Galicia, where a pack of night owls murdered Samuel Luiz with a beating between the nicknames of “fag” a little over a week ago.
There has been no lack of anti-enlightened theorists who, like Johann Gottfried Herder, consider certain prejudices to be positive because “they push peoples towards their center”, but Theodor Adorno explained well in The authoritarian personality that generate irrational attitudes and dangerous mentalities for coexistence. As defined in the 1950s by the psychologist Gordon Allport in The nature of prejudiceIt is about “an antipathy based on an inflexible and erroneous generalization. Which can be felt or expressed. Which can be oriented towards a group as a whole or towards individual members of the group.” And that is used to being manipulated for little or very explicit purposes, sometimes leading to persecution, extermination and genocide, but which always justifies discrimination against a minority. In addition to misogyny, homophobia, and anti-Semitism, prejudice is the father of xenophobia and racism.
That is why we must also be alert to its more banal or less radical use by religious, oligarchic, military, political and economic powers (it will not be necessary to cite Marx, his theory of alienation and his critique of ” German ideology “). Authoritarianisms of all colors, exploitation and social control, have historically been built from prejudices against which the enlightened and emancipation movements have fought throughout the centuries.
The persistence of prejudices is linked, it is in fact its condition of possibility, to social domination. And it inextricably adheres to the fabric of mass democracies. Prejudices persist in social life and in public debate. Hence the importance of their complaint and education to prevent them. Because, as Albert Einstein said, “it is easier to disintegrate an atom than a prejudice.”
The examples are plentiful. The Vox poster in the recent regional elections of the Community of Madrid against unaccompanied foreign minors under the protection of the protection system, with its rude manipulation of data and its typically fascist propaganda opposition between the kind pensioner and the threatening figure of the immigrant With your face covered, it is no small matter. And it becomes a more alarming fact when some judges are able to issue a resolution in which they give the category of “social problem” to the vomiting approach.
The extreme and reactionary rights have always moved in that viscous terrain of fear and rejection towards different people and they tend to immediately detect where the arguments that can unmask their despicable game come from. A few days ago, the Catholic University of Valencia, created at the time of the PP hegemony with all kinds of support from the autonomous government at that time, held the investiture ceremony of Cardinal Robert Sarah as doctor honoris causa. The cardinal, of African origin, is the visible head of the ultra-conservative opposition to Pope Francis. And, in addition to the archbishop of Valencia, Antonio Cañizares, who is not exactly an opening member and who presided over the act as host in his capacity as “great chancellor” of that private institution, highlighted the attendance of the Vox staff in the city.
I would dare to say that it is not the doctrinal background that really confronts that involutionary sector of the Catholic Church with the current pontiff, but rather its scant attachment to prejudice. Pope Bergoglio’s lack of belligerence with those whom Catholic morality considers to be sinners, his recurring appeal to the exercise of mercy and that answer about homosexuals in which he asked “who am I to judge them?” they are far more dissolving to extremists even than their defense of the poor and their criticism of the rich and the greedy. The danger for them is a compassionate Church that does not fossilize in prejudices. Something similar already happened in the sixties of the last century with John XXIII and his Vatican II council, which opened some doors to modernity and invited Christians not to be afraid of the world, a rudder against which the ecclesiastical cave and the curia are still plotting.
The resolution of the European Parliament against the law promoted by the ultra-nationalist Prime Minister Víctor Orban that discriminates against LGTBI people in Hungary is a paradigmatic episode of the tensions that mass societies are going through due to the political manipulation of prejudices. Even the majority of the Popular Group in the European Parliament supported the withdrawal of funds from the Hungarian State for legislating against the fundamental rights of a sector of the citizenry based on their sexual orientation. The popular Spaniards did not, immersed in a very worrying reactionary drift, with the exception of the Valencian Esteban González Pons, whose motivations we are not going to question now.
In any case, combating the threats of any form of totalitarianism and supporting democracy does not consist only in guaranteeing procedures and freedoms, but in never letting our guard down in the debate on values and in defending tolerance and that “relativist thinking “against which the fanatics cry out.