As the son of migrants I understand the tendency to label #Individuals and to treat them according to whatever category of people they belong rather than to treat them as an individual. This is the unkindest cut of all.

Labelling

The Oxford Dictionary defines a stereotype as “A person or thing that conforms to a widely held but oversimplified image of the class or type to which they belong”. These cold words only hide the cruel reality of the labelling that is at the heart of Racism.

Italian migrants are labelled as members of the Mafia and this has followed them in films and television programmes. In Australia where I was born and raised any news of Italians arrested was automatically front page news, no matter how minor a crime.

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For us sons of migrants this then became the school yard taunts and chants that we heard the next day at school.

In today’s world this now occurs to Moslem children all over the world and in the #United States to Latin Americans mistaken for Mexicans, or illegals. In Europe this occurs to a number of minorities, particularly to the Roma which have suffered centuries of discrimination.

Naturally, the group that has suffered the greatest level of discrimination and continues over the centuries to do so as we have seen are the Jews.

People not things

What stereotyping does is to transform people into objects and no longer as individuals. Worse still, as we have seen recently with regards to comments about Ivanka Trump and her conversion to Judaism, there is the tendency to say, “I have a Jewish relative, friend or work companion and he or she is ok”.

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This attitude only reinforces the message contained in anti-Semitic behaviour and all the other forms of Racism. The relative/friend/work companion is excluded, but the “others” are still categorized as part of the “others”.

We have seen the result of this attitude with the bomb threats to Jewish centres and damage to Jewish cemeteries around the country. It does no honour to the United States.

Solution

In the United States racial profiling is illegal. This is one step to resolving the problem, but it does not go far enough.

The solution will only come when everyone is treated as an individual and not as a member of any predetermined group. Freedom and Democracy are not based on groups, but on the behaviour of individuals and their contribution to the country.

The tendency to act on #stereotypes and to label individuals according to their origin is not Democratic and it is certainly not acting within what can reasonably be defined as Freedom.

Discrimination limits the activities of individuals and therefore affects their quality of life.

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This is the antithesis of Liberty. Yet, those who act in this way often do so to ostensibly protect their own freedom from a perceived threat.

Defending Freedom by limiting the Freedom of another should be abhorrent to whoever truly believes in Democracy, yet that is now exactly what we are seeing in many countries, beginning in the United States.

It is an issue that cannot be answered by mere plays on words. Yet up till now it is all we have heard, beginning with #Donald Trump in the Oval Office.