Bigotry and Prejudice in Leaders

By | February 19, 2018

[February 19, 2018]  A good article by Glenn Ellmers recently focused on the “old ways” of dealing with bigotry and prejudice (link here) .  Before I read it, I thought maybe he was talking about fist fights or something along those lines but he argues that the way we dealt with those problems years ago was different and better.

“If someone said something offensive about a particular class of people, there was a quick and efficient way to deal with it and one that did more to eliminate the problem than the kind of agitation we see today.  Back then, if some jerk made a disparaging comment about homosexuals, I could just say, ‘Well, I happen to be gay. You got a problem with that?’  And this worked whether you were in the class of folks being disparaged or not.” – Glenn Ellmers, American write living in Washington, D.C.

Years ago, the U.S. military began a number of programs that had its basis in personal responsibility.  Whether it was  respecting others, reducing sexual assault, etc., each program fell in line with their core values.  Emphasis was on dealing with any problem immediately and directly.  We were taught – through various scenarios – how to approach bigotry and prejudice while placing responsibility where it should be.

Glenn Ellmer suggests that these older ways of dealing with such problems emphasizes clarity, individual responsibility, accountability, and honesty.  It also has much to recommend it because it is effective.  Here are the four virtues of such an approach:

First, it deals with the problem acutely by confronting bigotry and prejudice when and where it occurred.

Second, it makes the problem about the bigot, rather  than about victimhood.  It presumed that we each make our own choices.

Third, it asks a question, rather than hurling an accusation.

Fourth, when a bigot is forced to answer the question, “You got a problem with that?” it addresses the problem immediately and squarely.

Of course, this was not a perfect solution since every solution has its problems.  The approach requires boldness and bluntness; something that is difficult for many folks and it entails a bit of risk.  Ellmer’s approach, like that of the U.S. military, is something we should all try for the reason that it works.

Got a problem with that?

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

2 thoughts on “Bigotry and Prejudice in Leaders

  1. Jesse

    Thought provoking piece on a timely subject; one that has and continues to divide our nation along “tribal” lines of association. Tribes rather than the American melting pot is now what defines who is the winner and the loser in our PC culture. From the snowflakes on college campuses that are “triggered” by ideas verbalized that differ from their insular viewpoints are just the tip of the iceberg. The U.S. congress, at least a few members, are serious about reducing our Constitutional rights. In particular free speech and the right to keep and bear arms are being slowly chipped away. We are lost if this takes hold.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Divisive is the key concept and I agree. The more our politicians fail to lead and do the right things, the worse things will get in America.

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