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.)
Gr 7-12-- ``With enough correct information, your attitudes . . . can be changed so that your prejudices will disappear,'' Langone states in his introduction. He tells readers that prejudice begins with ignorance and the fear of the unknown, and then, in separate chapters, traces the history and analyzes the causes of intolerance. His clear prose and wise choice of historical examples vividly bring home the irrational nature of prejudice and how this ``poison'' has infected Western culture. The strongest sections are on racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, and homophobia; his treatment of anti-Indian prejudice, ethnic intolerance toward immigrants, and discrimination against disabled people is less complete. In a thoughtful and provocative final chapter, the author discusses the conflict between the melting-pot concept and the contemporary emphasis on diversity, illustrating the tension between the two ideas by referring to the national motto, E pluribus unum. Although some adults would find Langone overly optimistic, this is a rich, rewarding introduction to one of society's greatest ills.-- Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego
Every day we are confronted with the results of prejudice and racism in our society. Individuals and groups are discriminated against because of ethnic origins, sexual preferences, or physical or mental abilities. Citing malice, habit, and ignorance as the principal causes, Langone dispels the myths and misconceptions about such well-known victims of prejudice as African Americans, Jews, native Americans, women, and the physically or mentally challenged. Focusing on racial, religious, and sexual discrimination, he concisely examines the historical events and social conditions that have allowed "irrational hostility" to develop, and details the brutal consequences of past prejudices, including the Holocaust, the lynchings of blacks by the Ku Klux Klan, the internment of Japanese Americans, and the mistreatment of native Americans. His solid, thoughtful analysis encourages readers to question the effects of prejudice on their perceptions of and relationships with others. It also provides a basis for classroom discussion of such current and volatile topics as "ethnic cleansing," date rape, gay bashing, and even gang wars. A hopeful work encouraging YAs to understand and fight the spread of prejudice. Notes are appended.