There were many ways this old man could have handled his grandson's query about prejudice, a word his grandson was too young to understand. Or even to pronounce.
He could have explained, without being judgmental, why it's best to think of our friends as individuals rather than classifying them as part of an arbitrary group.
He could have given his grandson a short, sanitized history of anti-semitism, explaining why Jimmy legitimately felt ostracized by being classed as "The Other," while, in his grandfatherly fashion, getting his grandson to agree that, as good people, the grandfather and the grandson are above this sort of name-calling and labeling. He could have started his grandson down the right path, to a future in which the boy judged individuals on their merits, rather than by race, religion, or class. He could have made the boy part of the team.
But did the grandfather do that? No.
Grandpa lowered the boom. He told his four year old grandson, so young that he still lisped, that the boy was an incurable bigot. Beyond redemption. A thought criminal with no hope of reform.
There is a reason the camera fades away in the last seconds of this public service commercial: so as to avoid showing this boy's face as his own grandfather deals a traumatic blow, an emotional punch in the stomach, that will follow the boy to his shame for the rest of his days. There is no way the child will ever think of himself as a decent person after this. Every time this child looks in the mirror, he will hate the face that looks back at him. Whenever he sees his friend Jimmy, he'll be filled with self-loathing.
Kinder that the grandfather had removed one of those hooks from his hat and gouged out the boy's eye.
Today that kid is probably a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, bouncing between parole and prison in a meth-fueled haze, praying to Wotan, in his lucid moments, that the government never connects him to the Oklahoma City bombing.
Thanks a lot, grandpa. And thanks a lot, Jimmy Carter, for traumatizing kids with this sort of shit during their After School Specials.
Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White
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