Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hypocrisy or Bigotry -- Which Is Worse?

Fellow blogger Greta Christina has an interesting post that contrasts the anti-gay statements of Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani ( I think I come down on the same side as Greta Christina and prefer the hypocrite to the true-believer bigot. It is surely something to keep in mind during the upcoming campaign. I suggest you read the whole post, especially Huckabee's nasty Brokeback Mountain comment, but here's the highlights:

So here's my question: Which is worse? The close-minded, true-believing bigot -- or the craven, self-serving hypocrite?

My thoughts: From a purely ethical standpoint, I think the true believer has the stronger position. Their bigotry is evil, it's harmful -- but at least it's sincere. It's not held simply for selfish gain. It’s internally consistent. But from a purely practical standpoint, I think I'd rather have the hypocrite in public office. Because you can change a hypocrite's mind.

If someone is taking a bigoted position purely to advance their self-interest, all you have to do to change their mind is shift the political scales. Mobilize your forces. Make alliances. Get better organized. Convince the hypocrite that their self-interest would be better served by sucking up to you instead of your opponents, and they'll be your new best friend.

It's much, much harder to change the mind of a true-believing bigot. If their bigotry is a consistent, integral, fundamental part of their view of the world and themselves, changing their mind about their bigotry requires them to rewrite their entire life story. Very few people are up to that.

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