When John McCain posterboy Joe the Plumber, whose 15 minutes of fame is way past its best before date, said Tuesday to the parents of mass murderer Elliot Rodger's victims that their dead kids didn't trump his constitutional right to have a gun, I really shouldn't have been surprised.
Nor should I have been surprised when people blamed Trayvon Martin for getting murdered. Or others who blamed Michael Sam for having the temerity to kiss his boyfriend in public. Or billionaire racist Donald Sterling for accusing his girlfriend of embarrassing him by hanging out and being photographed with black men.
Far too often people in majority communities seem incapable of putting themselves in the shoes of those in minority communities. Whites don't appreciate the shit black people go through. Straights don't hear the bigotry and insults that gays have to listen to. Men are blind the misogyny women face -- in their jobs or on the street.
But it's even worse than that. Because it's not just a majority/minority issue -- though that's a big part of it. It's an us and them issue. Black people who have suffered bigotry turn around and speak ill of gays. Gays who have been insulted put down Asians. Jews who face anti-Semitism make racist comments toward blacks or Arabs. Arabs who suffer verbal abuse from whites demean South Asians.
Basically too many of us are really abysmally bad at feeling empathy toward others who find themselves in similarly dire straights. We often seem incapable or unwilling to translate what's happened to 'us' into what's happening to 'them.'
And frankly, that really sucks. And until we as a community, as a civilization and as a species do a better job at making the effort to put ourselves in other people's shoes, I don't hold out much hope that basic human decency will ever prevail.