All the following generalizations are true:
- Italians are more emotionally demonstrative, boisterous, than the English.
- In running-competition, Blacks win nearly everything, Whites win a little, and Asians win almost nothing.
- White males go bald more frequently than men of other races.
- The Islamic world, once a center of scientific learning, is currently resistant to modernity.
- American Jews and African Americans are the only remaining ethnic voting blocs, defined as more than 80% voting for one party.
- Blond, white-skinned Scandinavians have not contributed much to Western civilizations.
- Blacks have not been as successful as other ethnic groups to develop and succeed in small business.
- The skin of Blacks and of Asians wrinkles less that the skin of Whites.
Of course, not all Italians are boisterous . . . Not every Black can run fast . . . Some pretty important scientists and writers have come from Scandinavia. . . Detroit, alone, has successful Black entrepreneurs. . . . Some Whites grow old without their skin wrinkling . . . There are conservative Blacks and Republican Jews.
One is justified in deriding bigots and opposing haters who pretend to believe that a stereotype applies to every individual in the group about which the generalization is made. But it must be a fear of being labeled politically incorrect to deny that stereotypes are generally valid, because they are for the most part factual. The fact that I am an only child does not invalidate the generalization that most Catholic Italian families have more children than most WASP families.
True, an individual Black, White, Korean may be a doctor/lawyer/minister/cop/criminal/chemist/musician/mathematician. Yet, although not everyone who drives a Harley and wears a black leather jacket is a member of Hell's Angels, it is understandable and not discriminatory when a neighborhood -- Asian, Black, or White -- pays more than casual attention if someone in a black leather jacket drives a Harley down their generally quiet street. Then, treats him as an individual.
I had occasion several years ago in another context to write:
For no thoughtful reason that I can think of -- except perhaps that many turn-of-the-century Catholic immigrants came to resent what they perceived as Irish domination of American Catholicism -- my strongest ethnic dislike is of the Irish. But I never meet "the Irish." I meet and interact with individual Irishmen, whom I come to like or dislike, to respect or not, depending on their individual behavior.
I believe most people are able to make that distinction between the one and the many.
Frank Versagi is the editor of Versagi Voice.