Prejudice is never going to go away, ever. It's what America was founded on. And I don't mean our beads for land deals or our enslaving black people or our denying women the right to vote. I mean our hatred of the English.
That's what first united America. 13 separate colonies, most of whose residents viewed themselves as independent from and superior to the other 12. But when the tea dropped, those colonies decided that they may have their differences, but at least they weren't British.
The French agreed, and helped America in the Revolutionary War. After all, the colonials may have been crass and disrespectful, but, well, at least they weren't British.
America has a rich history of hate. During World War I, we hated Germans, Austrians, Hungarians, Turks, and Bulgarians (And most of us have never had any idea where Bulgaria was). During World War Two, we hated Germans, Hungarians, and Bulgarians again (and we still couldn't find it), along with Croatians, Romanians, Slovakians, Italians, and the Japanese. And we hated the Japanese so much that we tried interning Japanese people who'd already chosen the United States over Japan. We didn't do that to any of the other groups we hated at the time, because they kind of looked like us.
We've also hated Koreans, the Vietnamese, Mexicans, Indians who weren't from India, the French (who used to help us hate the British), Spaniards, Philippinos, the Chinese, Russians, Cambodians, Persians, Syrians, Cubans, Bosnians (who hate Serbs), Serbs (who hate Bosnians), Afghans, and, of course, Iraqis. If you're like me at all, you tried to identify all the wars while reading that last paragraph.
Once your country has been around long enough, you'll hate everyone at some point. But let's also not forget how much we hate each other.
Sure, there was the Civil War, and unequal pay for men and women, and signs like "No Irish Need Apply." But we also hate each other for much simpler reasons.
Yankee fans hate Red Sox fans. People from cities like Boston hate people from nearby small towns. People who live in cold weather climates hate people in warm weather. People in the desert hate people on the beach. People in Los Angeles hate people in New York. Isn't it nice how everything comes full circle?
There is hatred in America based on all of these differences, along with political affiliations, fashion sense, taste in music, and even what sort of education we're receiving.
If you go to Ohio State, you hate anyone from the University of Michigan. You hate em! You can't adequately explain why, but argh! Until you're spending a semester in another country with someone from Ann Arbor. Then you put aside your differences, become close friends, and hate the people in that country that aren't from America.
Racism exists because we're afraid of what is different and we are constantly defining ourselves as, well, different. We're told to celebrate those differences, but we never do. When we meet someone new, the first thing we do is try to find something in common. You never hear, "You're from Chicago? What a coincidence, I'm from Not Chicago! Let's celebrate!"
More likely, you'll find you both went to Ohio State and therefore bond over how much you hate Michigan, even though neither of you knows why. You might have a number of friends who go there, but you can still hate the school. The phrase "some of my best friends are" is often used by people who hate a group despite their fondness for individual members of that group. Those people who say that are idiots. And that's one group we're allowed to hate.
It's a sad fact, but we will always need an "other" always. There is no unity without an enemy. Sure, the United States is united. But we united against England, remember?
And now, what are we united on? We're united by our hatred of Afghanis and Iraqis and the French and people whose sexual preferences differ from our own. We're certainly not united on our views of anything that actually matters. So to circumvent that, we have again been united with hate. Just like old times.
By this logic, you might assume that the people of this world are never going to get along. But I disagree maybe that's what the Mars program is for. What if we discover life out there? With a finding that wonderful and far reaching, we can all put aside our petty differences, join hands, and come together to hate the Martians.
Steve Hofstetter is the author of the Student Body Shots books, which are available at SteveHofstetter.com. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.