The other day I got into a discussion with a “friend” on Facebook about – Guess What? – the election. Her final word was, “Keep wearing your rose colored glasses.” I said I will. We were arguing about prejudice because it has raised its ugly head worse than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Granted, I grew up in California, one of the nation’s more “tolerant” states.
My disgust with prejudice started in 1964 when my father started selling a set of encyclopedias for African Americans called “The Negro Heritage Library.” It was the first collection to accurately depict the history of their lives in this country. He took me on a sales call in Watts, not long before the Watts riots of 1965. He also took me to a civil rights event at the Ambassador Hotel where I met civil rights leaders and community activists. It was repulsive to know that in other parts of the country there were “colored bathrooms” and lynchings.
Here is my father being recognized in the office of Los Angeles mayor Sam Yorty. (who was not known to be the most tolerant man, but was succeeded by Tom Bradley – the first black mayor of Los Angeles)
My dad’s cousin, Arthur Kinoy, was an attorney and progressive civil rights leader who was involved with the trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. They were accused of atomic espionage and were executed for being communists. He was also one of the attorneys who defended the Chicago Seven and represented people who were called to hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. The “Women’s Rights Law Reporter” was a periodical he founded and the first to focus solely on women’s rights.
His brother, Ernest Kinoy, wrote the screenplay and won an Emmy for the TV mini-series “Roots.”
My father’s experience with prejudice
My dad was a victim of prejudice during WWII because he was Jewish. His IQ tested at 180 so he was assigned to work on the Norden Bombsight, a secret operation at the time. He ended up as a bombardier on the B-24 Liberators that flew over Cairo, Benghazi, and Naples. His sergeant hated Jews and upset my dad to the point he went after him. Dad was temporarily thrown in the brig missing a mission that killed many of his friends.
Here is my dad being greeted as he came off the “Honor Flight” in Grand Junction, Colorado.
My parents lived in Denver, Colorado where I was born, but left when I was three. During that time there were new housing developments being built that didn’t allow Jews. My mother also saw cross burnings when she was growing up in Superior, near Denver.
Prejudice exists now more than ever
This election has caused me to re-evaluate people who are acquaintances and friends on Facebook. It also turns out the man I live with channels George Wallace when he gets drunk. I’ve gotten into conversations on both Facebook and Twitter with fervent witch hunters, locker room mouths, and other ignorant A-holes to the point of it being frightening.
This goes way beyond political policy. I understand why people feel differently than I do on political issues and have no problem with that. It’s the blatant prejudice that has surfaced that has me stumped. It makes no sense to me in this day and age. You would have thought we made progress during the 60’s and 70’s, but I guess not.
We all know that President Obama, whether you agree with his politics or not, has been slowly lynched during his two terms in office. It hasn’t been much different having a woman candidate for President. The idea that she’s being blamed for the “sins” of her husband, and not being judged on her own merits, slays me. As I said to a woman who was blathering on about how she “ruined” the lives of the women her husband had relations with, I asked her, “If your husband slept with another woman, what would you do? Serve her tea?”
Prejudice, in any form, has no place in society, no matter what side you’re on. It’s disgusting, horrifying, and unintelligent. We have to wipe it off the face of the Earth. Judge people on their character, their values, and their accomplishments and not on their race, gender, or religion. That is truly what being an American is all about. Until then, I will keep wearing my rose colored glasses.