People hide their bigotry to avoid consequences. A growing trend is the cloaking of prejudice and bias disguised as choice. Learn how to spot it and expose the hidden agendas behind this tactic.
When people say that all choices are the same is a way of hiding bias and prejudice. Many people get away with it because people don’t expose this tactic. It is a way to cloak bigotry and harmful intent as a seemingly neutral premise. Let’s look at how this works so you can spot the tactic.
Prejudice Hiding in Plain Sight
What is Choice
A choice (1) is a decision with a range of differing implications. We must make a choice when there is more than one option. We make several choices in the course of our everyday activities. Most of these daily choices are significant for the absence of harmful effects.
“Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda. Our mission, therefore, is to confront ignorance with knowledge, bigotry with tolerance, and isolation with the outstretched hand of generosity. Racism can, will, and must be defeated.” ― Kofi Annan
Many decisions have obvious intended and hidden unintended consequences with ethical or moral implications. So, all our decision-making needs to involve discretion. For instance, when deciding which vegetable to eat would generally be a neutral choice. That is, as long as the decision does not have a harmful outcome.
But, if you steal a vegetable, this has a harmful effect. Stealing harms the person who owns the vegetables. Theft is not a choice without negative ethical consequences. If you take vegetables from your garden, the decision is likely neutral, maybe even favorable. We need to recognize that our choices have a range of consequences, from neutral and benign to harmful and destructive.
Negative Bias and Prejudice
On the surface, prejudice (2) can appear similar to an innocent choice. It’s a decision between options. However, decisions made with underlying negative prejudice result in harmful outcomes, which may not be immediately apparent. The underlying prejudice creates a negative impact. It takes on several forms of discrimination, such as gender, ethnic, and racial bias. It could also incite physical harm and justify violence.
“For most of recorded history, parental violence against children and men’s violence against wives was explicitly or implicitly condoned. Those who had the power to prevent and/or punish this violence through religion, law, or custom openly or tacitly approved it. …..The reason violence against women and children is finally out in the open is that activists have brought it to global attention.” — Riane Eisler
Just because you don’t intend to cause harm doesn’t excuse you from participating in activities that do cause harm. So, their prejudice can be hidden in plain sight. It shifts the moral implications to someone or something else. But lack of intent does not reduce the effects of negative bias and prejudice. Hiding bigotry does not deter its impact.
So, it is logical to conclude that prejudice is the root of harmful intent. The intent of our decisions is part of the fabric of our worldview. If you have a worldview with a negative bias, it will show up in your choices. The underlying intent becomes your rationale for making value judgments. It is how prejudice becomes a rational, neutral choice.
If the values of your worldview promote discrimination and prejudice, then you want to disguise it. So, cloaking your bigotry as an “innocent decision“ is common. You may not even realize you are doing it. However, most of the time, disguising your intent is a conscious decision.
If you realize the error of your think moving beyond bias takes some personal reflection and inner work. The longer you involve yourself in the practice of bigotry, the more difficult these thought scripts are to break.
Choice and prejudice differ in the same way discretion and discrimination differ. Discretion is a decision with a neutral effect. For instance, deciding what vegetable to eat is a routine decision. This type of choice is absent harmful prejudice. In comparison, discrimination is a choice with an adverse impact, even if the effects are unintentional.
Both biases come from a worldview that promotes this confusion. Prejudice results in decisions with harmful outcomes. It may seem semantics, but the results differ like night and day. Bigotry is always a poor choice.
Moving Beyond Bias and Prejudice
Religious, ethnic, racial, and gender prejudices are something we learn. We internalize negative values because we think they are correct. So, it would be best to understand why this is a dangerous, slippery slope.
Religious indoctrination creates the slope and then pushes people down it to speed the rise of extremist ideologies. Unmasking the prejudice hiding in plain sight can be an uncomfortable experience. It will reveal the intents of your heart, but it’s the best thing that could happen for you and the world.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad / Roughing It
Bias Disguised as Choice
Hopefully, you can see how a neutral choice and prejudiced decision differ. To spot this tactic’s use, you need to identify the intent behind the decision. This requires you to delve into the motives within the premise of the argument. One way to spot prejudice hiding as a neutral choice is the lack of clarity in the purpose. Ask these questions:
- Do they tell you why this choice is correct?
- Is the outcome of the decision neutral, or does it result in harmful effects?
- Bias disguised as choice is the actual motive.
- Does the decision reveal negative prejudice against any person or group (gender, race, ethnicity, sexual preference)?
In the final analysis, it’s wrong to promote a premise with discriminatory intent as a neutral choice. A logical argument needs to contain valid propositions. Also, a choice that results in harmful outcomes is a breach of ethics. Harming others is always wrong. The harm caused by prejudice is a decision based on a skewed value system. Unless, of course, you think prejudice, discrimination, and bias are okay. If that’s the case, then that’s the problem.
Moving beyond bias and prejudice is possible, and it starts with the recognition of the issue. Unfortunately, that’s where religion comes in to give you an excuse to be discriminatory. Religious people use the holy texts of their imaginary friends as justification.
Don’t allow people to get away with this tactic; call them on it. When you see bias disguised as choice, let them know you see the tactic.
Harmful results are the product of a worldview colored by prejudice. So, the obvious question is, what creates a worldview built on prejudice? Bias is at the root of extremist ideology and hate. It’s a slippery slope you should try to avoid.
“Because you didn’t come here to make the choice, you’ve already made it. You’re here to try to understand *why* you made it. I thought you’d have figured that out by now.” — The Oracle from The Matrix
Cloaking Prejudice As A Simple Choice
As mentioned above, confusing choice with prejudice creates a slippery slope. You’ve likely made decisions that have some bias. Now we want you to see why. That’s the only way you stop doing it. Most people believe their choices are correct. People use the underlying bias of their worldview to justify their choices.
“Do you know what we call opinion in the absence of evidence? We call it prejudice.” ― Michael Crichton, State of Fear
Not surprisingly, religions and political entities use these tactics. In this way, they can justify harmful behavior from war and genocide to gender mutilation. They accomplish this through a brainwashing technique known as groupthink manipulation. It’s the cultural programming tool of choice. That’s because it enables them to program values and prejudices that support their perspective. That’s because bias is one of the main enemies of progress.
Sadly, many submit to this programming. As a result, people can believe harmful prejudice is correct because it comes from a trusted source. However, their trusted source can use “false” premises that result in antisocial and even violent behavior.
Sometimes people will argue all decisions are choices regardless of intent or outcome. This is a fallacy, an attempt to hide prejudice and bias as an innocent decision. Don’t let them fool you with this smokescreen, point out how the results differ. Hate and bigotry always harm someone or something.
Here’s how this issue comes up. For example, your religious leader asks for support of a health policy that affects the community. However, it’s really about excluding treatment for certain people. The exclusion would be harmful. It actually restricts the rights of some people to decide about their bodies.
It creates an ethical dilemma. If you go along, you are supporting a destructive act. If you reject this policy, you risk being ostracized or removed from the membership. What do you do? Do you remain silent to keep from making your disagreement known? If you do, you are giving tacit support for the harmful policy. If you speak up, you’ll face severe consequences.
Confusing choice with prejudice is a tactic you need to spot. It’s a misuse of an argument with the power to distort logic and values. “Bias disguised as choice” is a smokescreen to cover discrimination. Here are some practical things to minimize or eliminate this from being a part of your thinking.
Stop watching news cloaked as religious programming. Stop supporting organized religion. Both are sources of groupthink manipulation tactics. These mind control methods trigger the emotional responses of fear and anger, which promote biased and prejudiced thinking. Remember, hate isn’t a neutral choice. It is a decision based on bias and prejudice that has harmful consequences.
Don’t allow people to get away with this tactic. Point out how their seemingly innocent choice is hiding prejudice in plain sight. Yes, it will put you right in the middle of the argument. Calling out negative bias and discrimination is never in fashion around those who want to keep it.
Remember, moving beyond bias and prejudice happens one person at a time. The impact you have may not be immediately evident, but your words of truth will linger.
“Privilege is when you contribute to the oppression of others and then claim that you are the one being discriminated against.” ― DaShanne Stokes
(1) Choice definition: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/choice
(2) Prejudice definition: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prejudice