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The ten commandments for fighting bigotry

By Dvir Abramovich - posted Thursday, 5 February 2009

Most Australians want to end prejudice and discrimination. I’m often asked, “How can one person make a difference?”

Here are the ten commandments for fighting bigotry:

Look in the mirror


Make a decision to examine your own biases. What assumptions do you carry? Are you quick to label people? What is your unresolved prejudice? It’s not easy, and may be scary to acknowledge your own intolerance and then work through to overcome it. The process of breaking the cycle of racism begins with you. Only then can you genuinely influence others.

Stand up

Edmund Burke said that “All it takes for evil to triumph in the world is for good men to do nothing”. Don’t be indifferent when you witness racism or any kind of prejudice. Apathy may be viewed as acceptance.

Side with the victim

Listen to their story, empathise with their pain and needs, reassure and support them every step of the way. Don’t blame the victim, only the perpetrator.

Do not remain silent


Speak up, write letters to the newspaper, call talkback radio, report any type of hate and injustice to your parents, teacher, employer, police. Condemn and challenge such destructive behaviour. Silence sends the wrong message and gives strength to the bigot.

Set an example

Watch and think about what you say in front of others, especially your children.  Don’t miss the chance to set an example of what it means to be a tolerant person. Befriend people from different backgrounds to your own. Sit with your children and visit websites that describe other countries' religions and history. Consider the cultural diversity reflected in the art, music and literature in your home. Walk the talk.

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About the Author

Dr Dvir Abramovich is the Jan Randa senior lecturer in Hebrew-Jewish studies and director of the University of Melbourne centre for Jewish history and culture.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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