Babies are Bigots

baby-bigotsI just watched this absolutely fascinating 60 Minutes segment on babies.  These researchers have found a way to test babies that show that morality is inborn. They show a little five-month-old three puppets, one puppet helps the other puppet get a toy and the baby likes that puppet best. But, there’s another side to these little infants. First the researchers get a detail about the baby that he likes cheerios better than graham crackers. He prefers the puppet who also likes cheerios, who is also mean to the puppet who likes graham crackers. Apparently, bigotry is inborn and only unlearned by around age ten in a properly socialized youngster.


Now let me take you somewhere seemingly unrelated on the other side of the world. (Sorry, my brain works that way.) Bishop Velerimović was the head of the Serbian Orthodox church during a long spell in the 20th century. He’s just been canonized. He’s the one who wrote the account of the meaning of Kosovo that I mentioned in my Serbifying God post — the church lore that God picked the Serbs to be slaves to the Turks because he likes us best.

In that same book, Father Velerimović details how he did careful research into the Old Testament story about the enslavement of the Jews to the Egyptians. Sorry, but I gotta digress here a bit again. Not the point I’m ultimately going for here, but I just have to mention, I heard about some research lately translating some newfound hieroglyphics — what the Egyptians were actually saying about their Jewish slaves. Meroitic-HieroglyphicsA According to them, their Jews did NOT have it all that bad. They were just a bunch of lazy,  whining brats constantly complaining that they weren’t getting enough entitlements. Oh, that was a good laugh. I needed that.

Anyway, back to Father (Saint) Velerimović. He carefully counted just how long the Jews actually were slaves in Egypt. It was exactly 530 years. That’s EXACTLY how long we were slaves to The Turk! Proof positive that we are, in fact, another batch of God’s Chosen People. That’s the secret sauce. You get stewed for 530 years and you come out SPECIAL. Now I realize that African Americans were only slaves for a mere 250 years, but you have to remember, that was hereditary slavery, a real doozey. You get double points for that.

Now back to me and my dad in the Sixties in Chicago. I’ll give you a sec’ to get over the jet lag. This is all referring back to my Serbifying American Racism post. My dad, who didn’t know he was a culturally genocided Krajina Serb, but thought he was an American bigot, nonetheless inadvertently, unconsciously raised me to be the opposite. What’s the opposite of an American bigot? A Krajina Serb. We were, essentially, extinct people coming back to life on auto-pilot.

So, getting back to the baby bigots on Sixty Minutes. What I’m saying is that Bishop Velerimović is right. People like us do have something special about us. It’s innate. We recognize it in each other. And that’s how we reversed our extinction. Nothing was left of our culture, our identity, our self-image or self-esteem. We were reduced back to that infantile mind that innately likes graham crackers and is annoyed with the cheerio people who are mean to us graham cracker types.

All that suffering does change human nature in permanent ways that can have powerfully regenerative qualities. We are special. We know who we are, and we will never be anything else.

Bigotry is inborn, and in some people subjected to intense evolutionary pressures, so is anti-bigotry.


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