The Immunology of Prejudice
Despite our best efforts, we continue to be plagued with prejudice in all its ugly
manifestations. Why is prejudice so resistant to all intervention? Perhaps there
is a biological component that we are overlooking. Perhaps prejudice is similar
to an immune response, in which we automatically recognize and reject foreign
protein as potentially dangerous.
Our immune response is a mixed blessing, because sometimes the foreign
protein is dangerous, but other times the foreign protein is harmless.
Sometimes our immune response protects us, but other times our immune
response turns on us and creates self-destructive autoimmune diseases such
as rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic heart disease, multiple sclerosis,
scleroderma, lupus, and colitis.
I propose that prejudice is a self-destructive autoimmune disease, in which we
automatically and incorrectly reject harmless people who appear to be foreign
and dangerous. Let's treat the pernicious disease of prejudice with familiarity,
tolerance, reason, good will, and hope.
Competing interests: No competing interests