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Corbin: Iowa's GOP encourages biases best overcome
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Corbin: Iowa's GOP encourages biases best overcome

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Iowa’s 91 House and Senate Republican legislators want to outlaw classroom discussion of topics like racism and sexism (HF 802). Furthermore, Iowa’s GOP attempt (HF 222) to ban discussion of the slavery-oriented 1619 Project book reveals their pro-white bias.

Republicans’ effort to sweep racism and sexism discussion under the rug will cause long-term negative repercussions.

Steve Corbin

Steve Corbin

Bruce Lear, retired Iowa teacher, contends when the Republicans prohibit “discussions of such issues as systematic racism, white privilege, lack of diversity, inequality in pay based on gender and LGBTQ discrimination,” they are not only focused on cancelling culture, they are “cancelling reality” (Des Moines Register, April 8).

Most people have encountered hot-button issues like religious intolerance, immigration rebuke, LGBTQ, homophobia, xenophobia and racial injustice. To better understand one’s values, Iowa’s elected officials and citizens should take one hour out of their life and read a 55-page book, "Caste: A Brief History."

The research-based and easy-to-read book describes the seven most spiteful and persistent biases documented throughout the existence of mankind. The 2020 copyrighted book is written by Isabella Wilkerson, the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism.

While reading the book, analysis of one’s biases come front and center to the soul; introspection occurs naturally ... behavioral change becomes hopeful.

In Chapter 1, Wilkerson asserts “every race is guilty of harboring racist ideologies against other races.” We should be gravely frightened by USA’s 838 hate groups (SPLCenter.org, Feb. 1).

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Discrimination-based social class is discussed in the second chapter. Unlike racism, people are far more aware of the social divides that create prejudice against the homeless, poverty stricken, unemployed and people living in poor neighborhoods.

Bias against a person because of their age (Chapter 3) was witnessed when Dan Patrick (Rep., Texas Lt. Gov.) said senior citizens should sacrifice their lives because of COVID-19 (Fox News, March 23, 2020). Interestingly, the most peaceful and stable societies exist where elders are respected.

Chapter 4 examines the irrational fear of, aversion to and discrimination against, homosexuals. While homophobia is part of some religion’s intolerance teaching, to others it is “unnatural.” Wilkerson claims homophobia “is more widely acceptable to hate this particular community than nearly any other bias.”

Religious intolerance is considered in Chapter 5. It’s ironic that scorning people’s right to another religious faith is one of the few biases taught entirely by religious institutions ... save Buddhism.

Xenophobia (Chapter 6), the fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners, has become a serious problem with the rise of populism and by political leaders who exude an "after me, you come first" attitude. It’s hypocritical to be xenophobic where 98.3% of today’s families came to America from a foreign country. Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ refusal to temporarily shelter 300 immigrant children (AP, April 8) publicly displayed her spiteful value.

In Chapter 7, one learns that sexism is a bias more people don’t realize they have because of indoctrination from birth about gender roles. Women and men have the same legal rights in only six of 187 nations in the world. Despite 94% of Americans wanting the Equal Rights Amendment, the U.S. Senate has been sitting on S.J. Res. 17 (ERA) for months. Go figure.

Understanding, acknowledging and confronting the nature and cause of our biases is important. When a situation causes my bias radar to sound an alert, 19 words have been my best bromide. I commend them to you and Iowa’s GOP political leaders: "I can’t help the way I feel right now, but I can help the way I think and act."

Iowa’s GOP attempt to stifle freedom of speech and bias exposure is disheartening, troubling and alarming.

Steve Corbin is an emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa. His opinions do not reflect those of the University of Northern Iowa. Reach him at Steven.B.Corbin@gmail.com.

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