Borat and racism

November 20, 2006

Ron Rosenbaum, writing about the Borat movie, discusses the implications of anti-Semitism in the movie. Borat easily gets a few Americans to spew virulently anti-Semitic bile. Rosenbaum seems ambivalent about what this means: are some Americans anti-Semitic, or do they just go along when someone brings it up? He’s not sure, “but it gave me a deeper understanding of the kind of suspicious feeling expressed by black (and some white) writers who have argued that just because racial discrimination is outlawed by statute doesn’t mean racism is no longer a factor to be considered and the playing field of life is all evened out.” I have a problem with this quote because the expectations are unrealistically high. Most people are subtly discriminated against, whether you’re fat, short, old, dumb, poor, or ugly. Even beautiful women complain that people assume they are dumb gold-diggers (boo hoo!). The goal can’t be that we’re all happy shiny people holding hands; that’s impossible. The goal should be that racism is no worse than any other form of discrimination. More precisely, all forms of discrimination should be reduced to being merely a social nuisance that doesn’t stand in the way of important life goals: education, jobs, housing, services, justice, etc. But if someone doesn’t like you for whatever reason, that’s their problem.

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