Bigotry and the Current Trend of Entitlement
The topic of bigotry is top-of-mind for many people right now. It’s showing up in many forms, from bigotry against people of certain sexual orientation, bigotry against women, racist bigotry, and xenophobic anti-Islam sentiments seen worldwide.
In the USA, bigotry against gays is reminiscent of the racism Rosa Parks must have experienced in the 50s before the formation of the Civil Rights Movement in between 1954 and 1968. Those refusing service to gays routinely use the Christian bible as legal grounds to refuse service, even though their saviour was never documented as saying a single thing about gays during his lifetime. The proposal of a religious freedom law sparked a furor when many claimed that it’s their religious right to refuse people service based on their sexuality.
Online we repeatedly see cases where women are attacked by men (and women) claiming that feminism is destroying the world, and that current feminist trends are ruining everything from men’s rights (MRAs), to gaming (GamerGate), to comic books (the controversy over the Batgirl cover, and its subsequent withdrawal from print). The bigotry in this case is deep-seated in our culture, and will seemingly be here for a long time to come.
In Australia, over the Easter weekend, a group called Reclaim Australia held rallies all over the country with the apparent intention to show solidarity against what is often called “creeping sharia“, and to “stop halal tax, sharia law & islamisation [sic]”. According to their Facebook page, they:
Compulsory singing of our National Anthem, weekly in every School in Australia. [sic]
Revoking the citizenship of anyone who fails to uphold their pledge of allegiance.
Refuse entry to anyone who has fought overseas against our ADF or minimum 15 years jail term.
This Australian rally is a united effort to show that home grown extremists are not welcome in our Country… [sic]“
As if to show that this group is not in fact bigoted, it goes on to say:
Are you, or members of your family members of our Indigenous Community…love this Country & respect it’s laws? [sic] You are Australian,. [sic]
Are you a descendant of convicts? But love, respect & value our laws & culture? You are Australian!“
By adding this last part to what is essentially a racist rant against Islam, the barely literate organisers of this event think their bigotry is hidden behind tokenistic attempts at inclusiveness. To anyone who can actually read this paragraph and go past the sensationalism of the claims that Australia is under attack from Islam, it is clearly about much more than a fear of sharia, halal and “islamisation”. While the turnout to these rallies was relatively small, the fact that their Facebook page has 23,855 “likes”, and was enough of a concern to other Australians that counter-rallies were held in protest of the protests. This is not to say that sharia law is a good idea, or even in any way a defense of Islam. It is a calling out of people who use their nationalistic ignorance as a shield against their perception that Australia is being overrun by non-whites with weird hats and strange religious practices.
It may seem that these cases, and others like them, are unrelated, they all hold at their root a similar fear: that of disenfranchisement. This apparent disenfranchisement has roots in a sense of entitlement held variously by the religious, men, white people, and any other group that already holds a disproportionate amount of power and privilege. In the case of bigotry against LGBT people, it’s the religious that hold sway, with religious entitlement at the root. In the case of women, men clearly hold the power, and have done since time immemorial. In the case of Reclaim Australia”, the white nationalistic trend is on the rise, and Islam is the perfect target for their vitriol.
The biggest defense thrown forward by those who hide their bigotry behind their fear of disenfranchisement is accusations of bigotry; They claim those who call them up on their bigotry are in fact the bigots. The irony of this situation is not lost on me, in fact if it weren’t such a massive problem in today’s world, it would be comical.
What is clear here is that we in the midst of massive social change. Change will always cause some to be concerned, and the symptoms of the fear caused by change often manifest themselves in conservatism, nationalism, religiosity and bigotry. Those who are actually currently disenfranchised by those in positions of power are no longer content with being oppressed (as if they ever were), and social media has allowed for the voices of the downtrodden to be raised up to a level where they can be heard. This is what scares the entitled, that and a fear of losing out on their privileged positions if in fact we can reach any semblance of balance and equality for all. The privileged and entitled can no longer hide their bigotries behind “a cause” because their causes are so often transparent and without any merit.