Spreading Poison: A Book about Racism and Prejudice

John Langone, Author Little Brown and Company $15.95 (178p) ISBN 978-0-316-51410-1
Ranging from biblical times to the Rodney King tragedy, Langone ( Our Endangered Earth ) discusses persecutions of racial, religious and ethnic groups, women, homosexuals and a large pool of others (the disabled, poor, retarded, etc.). In identifying the nature of prejudice, he compares rational dislike with an ``unreasoned attitude.'' He calmly considers the substance of prejudice, weighing, for example, the arguments about whether the Jews killed Christ. Among his more unusual insights, he suggests that fear of tolerance may stem from thinking that it implies ``anything goes.'' Minor complaints: dates are often left out, diminishing the usefulness of references to figures like Pope Gregory; in saying that prejudice against such groups as Jews and gays will never entirely disappear, some readers may find Langone realistic, others, defeatist. On the whole, however, he builds his case solidly. His pointed conclusion focuses on the Wisians, a fictional group created by pollsters--almost 40% of respondents were willing to judge them along with 36 actual ethnic groups, and they ranked the Wisians low indeed. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1993
Release date: 01/01/1993
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