So here I am, behind the Orange Curtain, where casual racism trips lightly off the honeyed tongues of the most surprising people, and I find that my own latent biases crop up unexpectedly. Not, mind you, that I'm of the opinion, so daintily expressed by the little old lady in my knitting circle, that it's only blacks and Mexicans who avail themselves of public assistance in California, nor am I in the habit of calling women "hos" no matter their race or the state of their coiffure, but I'm just as guilty of some low-grade unpleasant inferences as the next girl. Latent prejudice, anyone?

I get nervous, for example, around unclean people, whom I typically take to be homeless and by extension "on the edge," believing, perhaps unfairly, that they must be pretty desperate characters to have no family or social net into which to fall back before destitution and its attendant filthiness beset them. [It's not that I don't also find it heart-rending, particularly when it's clear that there are mental health challenges that have contributed to their physical condition, but I get twitchy.] Nervous, in all frankness, may be putting it too lightly, and reading stories about people shoved under subways in New York don't help matters. It wouldn't be a stretch to say there's a certain degree of grime, in particular, that flat-out terrifies me. The what-ifs overpower me, and I tense right up. Oddly, I've never experienced that anxiety in NYC, but boy, there are some BART riders in SF who've made me wish I'd just sprung for the damn $40 cab fare from the airport!

(Meanwhile, it just occurred to me that of the $5000 we gave to non-profits last year, only the Goodwill donations had anything even vaguely to do with addressing homelessness as a social problem with potential solutions. Interesting. One of these days I have to check in with Mayor Handsome's people to see what's happening on that front in the city by the Bay.)

So that was my usual tangent, when what I meant to write about was my chagrin at the realization that when I see blonde women here with age-inappropriate waist-length hair, wearing long skirts, with similarly-coiffed and attired teenaged daughters, I immediately think, "Mormons" and mentally roll my eyes. Tsk tsk. Et tu, Dew?

Sure, not as bad, maybe, as spouting mad theories about the coming subjugation of Whitey (that's the knitting lady again, who at 78 is both old enough to know better than to trumpet her crap theories and to be beyond caring), but I guess we have Jon Krakauer to thank for making me looks askance at the Church of Latter Day Saints. Considering that LDS's followers have been subjected to a kind of scrutiny, prejudice and suspicion that my Jewish and Irish forebears endured (is that a strong enough word? Maybe not, but isn't "suffered" as grossly overused as "hero," "tragedy," and "courageous" without me adding to the hyperbole? I think so), I've got a bit of a nerve.

The thing is, and maybe this is the latent prejudice part, I guess I'm just puzzled (and perhaps put off) by a religion made up by some guy, just 150 years ago. In all fairness to the LDS, though, I'm leery of any new religion, although I'm ok with modern interpretations or iterations of "old" ones -- hence Reform Judaism is ok by me, while mega-churches that are kinda touchy-feely Jesus-y creep me out a little. Conveniently, all of this ignores the possibility that the only reason I'm not as skeptical of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, or old-fashioned Christianity is just the venerability lent them by their age, not their actual tenets or legitimacy. Makes ya go "hmmmm."


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