English writer humanist, William Hazlitt, famously wrote "prejudice child ignorance." The works class read summer, Snow August Zeitoun, themes related dangers prejudice. In a -written essay analyze Dave Eggers Pete Hamill criticize prejudice work.
Prejudice and hate in New York City and New Orleans:
Snow in August vs. Zeitoun
"Prejudice is the child of ignorance."
-William Hazlitt, English writer and humanist
The essence of prejudice can be found in the word's etymology. To be prejudiced is to 'pre-judge' something, based upon assumptions that are not based in the here and now. To be prejudiced against someone because of his or her race or religion is to judge the individual by pre-existing suppositions, often based in ignorance and what is falsely considered 'common sense' knowledge. In the case of Snow in August, the Irish-American residents of the neighborhood where the protagonist Michael Devlin lives pre-judge the Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Hirsch because of his religion and the fact he is a recent immigrant from a land they know nothing about. In Zeitoun by David Eggers, Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-American resident of New Orleans is apprehended by police during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Because of his race and religion, he is initially held without charges. He is denied his constitutional rights simply because officers prejudge him based upon his personal appearance.
In Snow in August, a young, fatherless Irish-American boy befriends a rabbi who teaches him about the Kabala (a mystical form of Judaism) and Jewish literature in exchange for English lessons and lessons on the game of baseball. The backdrop to the novel is the ascent of Jackie Robinson to the major leagues, as Robinson transcends the color barrier and prejudices of his age. Michael feels guilty when he sees the Falcons, a gang of Irish toughs who rule the streets, beat a Jewish man. Despite the fact that Michael is not prejudiced himself and identifies with Jackie Robinson and Robinson's ability to overcome discrimination, he feels compelled to conceal the crime he witnessed. There is a great deal of irony inherent in the story. On one hand, Michael is a member of a persecuted race. The Irish were oppressed by the English. But this former oppression has caused the Irish to develop an insular culture that rejects outsiders. There is also a 'code of silence.' No matter what an Irishman may do, no other Irishman is supposed to inform on him to the authorities. This forces Michael, in obeying this code, to implicitly endorse prejudice. The Falcons threaten to beat him (and eventually do beat him) if he 'turns' on them, betraying his race. "Around here, you don't tell the cops anything. They're like, I don't know, the enemy. And I'm Irish, Rabbi. If I talk to the cops I'm an informer and my mother says they were the worst people in Ireland" (Hamill 155). Prejudice and insularity cause Michael to conceal a crime he should not conceal as well as motivate the Falcons' bloody actions.
However, David Egger's Zeitoun is a far more frightening tale than Hamill's of prejudice. First of all, the incident chronicled in the book was motivated by the actions…
Sources Used in Document:
Eggers, David. Zeitoun. New York: Vintage, 2010.
Hamill, Pete. Snow in August. New York: Vision, 2008.