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The illogical trend of prejudice

It is hard to see how anyone can explain in any rational way any form of bigotry

Peter Harrison

Published: Updated:

For me it is hard to see how anyone can explain in any rational way any form of bigotry. It seems to me that this is quite clear - it is illogical to have any disliking for an entire group of people, claiming that they all have some trait that causes a person to hate them all.

It makes no sense to me to come to such a conclusion – and yet there seems to be a growing trend around the world to make such generalizing remarks.

In France covered Muslim women are being exposed to harassment because of the burkini and burqa bans – but up until the recent attempted gas canister attack, there was not one instance in the major attacks where women were the main perpetrators of these crimes – it was men in T-shirts, track suits or jeans – that’s a large part of my wardrobe.

The United Kingdom has seen an increase in the number of instances of race hate crimes. You only have to go onto social media to see countless videos of British thugs yelling abuse at people because they speak with a foreign accent. So bad are some of the attacks that the victims have been left with horrific wounds that will likely leave permanent scars.

There were more than 3,000 allegations of hate crimes made to UK police in the week before and the week after the June 23 Brexit vote – that’s a 42 percent year-on-year increase. And in the two weeks after the Brexit vote, British Transport Police recorded a 57 percent increase in the number of hate crimes committed on Britain’s public transport system, compared to the previous two weeks. This prejudice is extending across Hungary, Scandinavia and other parts of Europe.

And of course in the US there seems to be a worrying trend in police shootings of black men, sparking a growing civil unrest. According to Kimberky Kindy of the Washington Post, “blacks continue to be shot at 2.5 times the rate of whites”.

So it seems odd to me that in an age of globalization that there is so much hatred based on what is nothing more than ignorance – which seems to be a root cause behind much of the world’s growing prejudice

Peter Harrison

Ill-informed views

For me the worrying thing is that this apparent trend of prejudice appears to be growing with little justification other than largely ill-informed views. In the UK and Europe there is little to no evidence that refugees are turning otherwise quiet communities into crime hotspots.

It’s also fair to say that migrants are not traveling to the UK to ‘steal’ jobs or claim welfare. The truth is that refugees cannot claim benefits in the UK, and it is impossible to steal jobs – the statement is a nonsense.

If an employer is looking to fill a position, then it is up to them to get the most suited person to fill that position. Employers in most countries around the world are strictly governed as to the people they can hire from other countries – but they have a right to hire legal residents holding the appropriate visas.

So it seems odd to me that in an age of globalization that there is so much hatred based on what is nothing more than ignorance – which seems to be a root cause behind much of the world’s growing prejudice.

When I moved to Dubai from the UK there was a time when I thought it funny as I struggled to pronounce the names of people from other countries. I would joke about it, making it a trivial matter. I thought such jokes were relatively harmless.

But in a climate of what appears to be a growing trend of ignorance-fueled prejudice, it’s important to be seen to be making an effort with the basics. For what might feel like harmless fun, could be seen as an enforcement of the view that other people’s cultures, ethnicities or life styles are in some way not deserving of respect or interest as we expect for ourselves.

It’s especially important I suspect for someone like me – a large, white, (and often bad tempered) Westerner, to be seen to be making an effort. There’s no harm in being mildly apologetic in one’s attempt to get someone’s name right with the pronunciation.

And if you find someone annoying because of their behavior, then be irritated by the individual, not an entire cultural or ethnic group – that is truly intolerable.
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Peter Harrison is a British photojournalist whose career spans three decades, working for print, digital and broadcast media in the UK and the UAE. He's covered a broad spectrum of subjects, from health issues and farming in England, to the refugee crisis in Lebanon and the war in Afghanistan. He is a senior editor with Al Arabiya English and tweets @photopjharrison.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.