The following text is a partial translation of the original Russian article, performed by ChatGPT (gpt-3.5-turbo) and this Jekyll plugin:

“Исцеление молчанием?”

Racism, anti-Semitism, nationalism, chauvinism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of intraspecies xenophobia are considered by Conrad Lorenz, the author of the book “So-Called Evil,” to be the most serious dangers threatening humanity in modern cultural, historical, and technical conditions. Lorenz believes that they are the result of intraspecies selection that has been acting on our ancestors for tens of thousands of years, and Erich Fromm, in his book “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness,” considers them to be one of the main obstacles to human progress. What should be done and how can this evil be eradicated?

Let’s assume that scientists are right and something needs to be done about intolerance so that it does not hinder progress and threaten humanity (although it has existed for tens of thousands of years, and somehow progress has managed to cope with it; however, let’s leave this logical inconsistency on the conscience of scientists). Do campaigns against, for example, racism help to defeat it or do they have the opposite effect?

In 2020, the UN held the “World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance” in South Africa, as a result of which it was stated, among other things, that (I quote) “any doctrine of racial superiority is scientifically invalid, morally condemnable, socially unjust, and dangerous and must be rejected along with theories attempting to establish the existence of separate human races.” How is it possible that doctrines and theories do not yet exist, but we a priori acknowledge them as scientifically invalid?

Jens Rydgren, a professor of sociology at Stockholm University, writes in his work “The Logic of Xenophobia”: “racism and xenophobia can appear quite rational from the aggressor’s point of view when they are ignorant or misled” (my free translation from English). We don’t have to look far for an example: Borat Sagdiyev from the movie of the same name believed that Jews can turn into cockroaches. He was not to blame for having such knowledge in his curly head, and he had no intention of questioning this truth. Based on the amount of information he had about Jews, Borat reasonably harbored animosity towards them.

It is very difficult to make Borat stop hating Jews, whom he believes can turn into insects. The only way to deal with such radical anti-Semitism is to explain or scientifically prove that this version is a fabrication.

It is worth noting that not every xenophobia is as comical as Borat’s fear of Jews. In the overwhelming majority of cases, every hatred has a quite logical explanation that underlies offensive generalizations.

For example, according to statistics, more than half of homicides in the United States are committed by African American citizens, while they make up only 13% of the total population. Should a police officer, when apprehending an African American criminal, remember this statistic and take stricter safety measures than if he were apprehending, say, an Indian? Will using this statistic be an insult to the specific offender who is not responsible for being African American?

Another example: currently, the vast majority of commercial airline pilots are men. Should an airline conduct additional training and assessments, such as stress tolerance, when hiring female pilots, as women handle stress worse? Should airlines inform passengers that a woman will be their pilot? Will such information be an insult to the specific female pilot who may be more resilient to stress than the average representative of the “women” social group?

And finally, one more example: you are walking with a child and find yourself near a stadium where a football match has just ended with the losing team. Excited people with masks on their faces and cold weapons in their hands surround you. They have not yet started smashing windows or overturning cars, but it is quite likely that it will happen. Will you explain to the child that these are aggressive football fans and it is better to stay away from them? Many of them are probably wonderful people. Moreover, not all football fans break windows. Your generalization will undoubtedly offend many of them, but it will save your child’s life. What will you choose, lengthy discussions about political correctness and tolerance, or immediate stereotyping and evacuation to a safe place?

I mean that not all xenophobia and even hatred is unfounded and is a prejudice. It is necessary to distinguish one from the other and to fight specifically against the latter, getting rid of senseless violence and aggression, which, as we know from Fromm, are the main obstacles on the path of human progress. The only remedy against prejudices can be only one: enlightenment.

However, the opposite is happening. The UN, as we can see, anathematizes any theories about the existence of races, and instead of identifying contradictions, emphasizing differences, and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of different social groups, all people are declared equal. Instead of enlightenment, which always involves doubts and internal conflicts, we are offered empty slogans that are emotionally charged but devoid of content, like “black lives matter”. Education is being blocked. Sensitive social issues are being tabooed. Scientists are being stripped of honorary titles. Any discussion of inequality that does not contain radical polarizations and unequivocal condemnation of everything bad is considered racism and leads to the boycott of anyone who casually engages in such a discussion.

A few years ago, I participated in a computer conference in a small Western European city. I talked with several other speakers like me in the corridors. We touched on the topic of racism, and I allowed myself to note what I wrote in this article above: not everything is so straightforward, and it is worth understanding that if dark-skinned people commit crimes several times more often, it is not enough to demand an unbiased attitude towards them, something must also be done to address the crimes and reduce their level. Within a few minutes, the table we were sitting at emptied. The discussion stopped before it even began because the participants simply ran away from sin.

Supposedly, by moving towards the noble goal of reducing xenophobia, we achieve the opposite effect because we act with repressive methods. Tabooing the topic and intimidating scientists will not eliminate the sore of social, racial, gender, or national conflict. Only through education and enlightenment, which primarily require open discussions and debates. However, discussions are becoming fewer, disputes are prohibited, and dissenters are silenced.

Or perhaps it is beneficial for someone to solve the opposite task under the guise of fighting hatred worldwide: to ignite the fire of xenophobia with the fuels of foolishness, narrow-mindedness, and fanaticism?

Translated by ChatGPT gpt-3.5-turbo/39 on 2023-10-02 at 17:41

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