Prejudice is pervasive and poisonous. It is defined as “dislike, hostility or unjust behaviour arising from preconceived and unfounded opinions” (Oxford Dictionary). Prejudice comes in many forms — religious; racial or ethnic; gender; and class.
Prejudice has two elements. The first is ignorance. We are willing to entertain and believe certain things about others based not on fact, but on uninformed opinion. One might have thought that in this ‘Information Age’ it would be easy to overcome ignorance because information is so readily accessible. Instead, the age of the Internet and Google has also brought ‘fake news’ and the need for ‘fact-checking’. Human beings can be very gullible and this has less to do with intelligence than with the psychological convenience of stereotyping and the lack of critical thinking.
The second element of prejudice is the inclination or desire to harm the objects of our prejudice. We see this every day, everywhere. Muslims are profiled and abused. Blacks in the United States are discriminated against, brutalised, disproportionaately incarcerated, and stopped and even killed by police officers. Whites in the United States are now claiming that affirmative action policies by colleges and universities to promote more diverse student populations discriminate against them.