I hate to harp on Juan William’s comments, but I came across two great pieces that I wanted to share.
First, Slate is running an excellent article entitled, “We are all Juan Williams: Associating Minorities with Crime is irrational, Unjust, and Completely Normal.” If you read anything this week, let it be this article. In it, Shankar Vedantam explains why we associate an entire minority with a crime committed by one of its members, even though we wouldn’t do this for a crime committed by a member of the majority. He looks at the well examined phenomon of associating crime with African Americans:
“The researchers Franklin D. Gilliam Jr., Shanto Iyengar, Adam Simon, and Oliver Wright once conducted a simple experiment that demonstrated how illusory correlations work: They showed volunteers a television news program that featured a violent crime. Some volunteers were shown a white suspect, while others were shown a black suspect, but everything else about the program remained identical. The volunteers who saw the black face were more likely to blame blacks as a whole for rising crime than the volunteers who saw the white suspect were to blame whites for rising crime. (The volunteers in the white scenario blamed that individual suspect for the crime.) The bias showed up among white as well as black volunteers.”
Vendatam makes the point that both the Left and the Right have responded inappropriately to Juan William’s illusory correlation, but that the Right makes a much more sinister mistake by defending it…
“When it comes to our associations between Muslims and terrorism, commentators on the left are being wishful when they imagine we can rid our minds of false associations merely by holding consciously egalitarian views. Commentators on the right are doing something much more dangerous, however: They are rationalizing and justifying a mental process that is fundamentally not rational and deeply unjust.”
The second piece I wanted to share was this comical take on identifying “Muslim Garb” (a jab at Juan William’s benighted comment) Entitled “Muslims Wearing Things” this blog documents, well, Muslims wearing things.