on his blog Macon D posts a thread “lack empathy for non-white people”
I had long thoughts about this topic, empathy in general.
I do not believe that there is something like empathy for one’s own racial group but not for others.
But I believe that there is sympathy, which is confused with empathy. Sympathy with for example whites, based on the assumption that who looks similar will be similar and will be ‘on the same side’.
I also do not believe that somebody white who has no emotion, no human reaction when it comes to the suffering of somebody non-white will have true emotions and human reactions when it comes to the suffering of somebody white.
People who can’t emphasize with non-white people can’t emphasize with anybody. While whites may learn on a cognitive basis that non-white people aren’t considered to be human beings within a white society I think that on a deeper psychological level it is not possible to de-humanize any human being based on skin-color if such person didn’t already de-humanize also whites. The difference is that there are again rules such people can learn, how society expects them to act towards certain people/groups, which enables people to fake empathy when in reality there is no empathy but sympathy.
If somebody can emphasize it will also be body language which is universal for all human beings which connects one human with another human, regardless skin-color, age, state of health etc. Somebody with empathy won’t be able to disconnect himself from the humanity of others.
Milgram wrote about his findings in his 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View:
The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous importance, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects’ [participants’] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects’ [participants’] ears ringing with the screams of the victims. Authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.
Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.
Empathy alone won’t change anything, I think it is more important that people learn to be disobedient.
It is relatively simple to fake an image according social rules without actually being it. People can learn behavior on a superficial way without changing their mindset. Political correctness is just one example.
The Milgram experiment can be expanded that way that ‘society’ (*mainstream*) will be for many people the authority they obey. Even empathetic people will obey as long as they don’t learn the skill of disobedience together with accepting the consequences of being excluded by society.