I’m reposting a short comment I made on Nati’s Plushus blog about comparing fat and racial prejudice. I’ve been silent on this a long time, because I spoke up long before I had really coherently put together my thoughts in a way that would most clearly represent what I had to say. Additionally, I’ve been studying moral panics and moral crusades as a historical phenomena in the interim, and it has really enlightened me as to how certain patterns of superiority-and-deviance have repeated themselves, in different forms and degrees, over and over since practically the dawn of mankind (I can’t go back further than the Epic of Gilgamesh, sadly lol).
Here’s my comment on this post by Nati:
This argument has come up before on the Fatosphere and other fat activist sites, and I think sometimes the argument can get heated because people are coming into the argument with a lot of baggage and not paying attention to the real point.
Fat prejudice is like racial prejudice because they’re both a form of prejudice. We can learn from racial prejudice in the fat community because although fat prejudice is at a much, much more rudimentary stage than the peak of racial prejudice, the concept underlying the two – the creation of a deviant class based on group characteristics that have nothing to do with character or personhood – is the same.
How familiar are you with the idea of the moral crusade or moral panic? Underlying many of the worst prejudicial movements is the idea of, “You deserve it (in a moral or absolute sense),” or “We’re doing it for your own good.” Some of the worst crimes perpetuated during the peak of racial prejudice were in the name of this fallacious moral crusadership.
I think, like with much in history, we can learn the hard lessons of the racial prejudice period (which some would claim is still in full force, and I agree, though it’s changed its form a bit) and apply it to how we go about fighting fat prejudice.
It’s not about who had it worse, it’s about this idea that groups are singled out and persecuted while being entirely innocent. That is what all prejudice, regardless of the degree, has in common.