Tuesday 06 Dec 2016

The Blind Bigot
AJ Robinson

As a kid, one of my favorite TV shows was "All in the Family." My dad and I used to sit and watch it, and we found it hilarious; we were forever amazed at some of the things that Archie would say. Granted, for me, some of them didn't make sense; I didn't know what a wop, dago or queer were, but I still laughed just as hard as my dad did. If anything, I think I found the toilet flushing the funniest part of the show! I truly think "All in the Family" was the first series to acknowledge a home had a bathroom.

I did wonder about Archie though; why he had such negative views of so many people. Then the series did a very interesting episode. Archie was in the hospital (I think for a hernia operation), and they put him in a semi-private room; there was just one other patient in the next bed, and the two of them were separated by a curtain. This meant Archie couldn't see the man. The great character actor Rosco Lee Brown played the other patient, and did so with a thick French accent. Oh, and by the way, Brown is Black.

All Archie knew about the man was what he said and his accent. If I remember correctly, the character name was Mr. Jean Duval. At one point, Archie's neighbours, Mrs. Jefferson and her son Lionel, came in to visit him (they were black too), and Jean asks Archie to introduce him to his wife and son! Archie laughs the comment off, but does ask Lionel to move the curtain.

He doesn't, and Archie and Jean continue to talk. Eventually, they develop a friendship and Archie even invites Jean and his wife to come over for dinner. At this point, Jean gets out of bed, comes around the curtain and the two men finally see each other.

Archie's attitude about Jean changes instantly.

I couldn't help but think, at the time, wouldn't it be great if there were a place where people could get to know each other just as people first, and then get the physical elements, so to speak, later. Everything from race, ethnic group, religion and so forth become unimportant.

Today, we have just such a place, Internet. For all its problems, the Internet has some definite pluses.

It also occurred to me that there is one aspect of bigotry that is "blind" in just about any circumstance, sexuality. I remembered another episode of "All in the Family" where Archie was convinced that a friend of Michael's, son-in-law of Archie, was gay, merely because of how he dressed and acted. In the end, it turned out that the macho man that Archie looked up to was the one who was gay.

That got me to thinking, in most cases, unless someone reveals their sexual orientation, you can't know who's gay, straight or bisexual. I kept thinking back to Archie and Jean Duval; he didn't know he was black, and what a difference that made. How would people react to people like Ellen and Rosie, if they didn't know their sexual orientation?

It makes me think that bigotry is completely pointless. Hating someone because you disagree with their views or because they did you wrong is one thing. Hating someone without knowing him or her is stupid.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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