When I first met my wife she grilled me pretty good. She wanted to make sure that I was worth her time and effort. Thank goodness I passed her test. One thing that she would correct me for doing early on was making sweeping generalizations, repeating hearsay and stereotyping. Even if it was a positive thing. Example: "Women are really good at listening." She would tell me that there were all kinds of women and that some were good at listening and some weren't. She's right. At the time I wasn't sure if she was just being confrontational with me or not. Now that we know each other better those kinds of things don't come up in our conversations.
I do see these kinds of things coming up everyday though. I see them on television "news" programs and on the internet on different forums and blogs. One thing that I think we really need to get back to is talking about what we know to be true as individuals. I once was having a discussion with a Republican and he justified his own racism by saying that they are preaching hatred of white people in black, inner city churches. I stopped him right there and asked him when the last time he stepped foot in a black, inner city church was? Of course I knew the answer was never and that brought the discussion back to what we each knew and not what someone heard from someone to be true.
It's kind of like the way urban legends spread. It's always a friend of a friend (foaf) that was bit by a spider and burst out with a million baby spiders. It's never someone you know directly. Nowadays people on tv are speculating and then other people hearing it repeat the speculation as if it were news. "I heard on tv the other day that Hillary Clinton hates veterans!"
If we could just cut down on the speculation, sweeping generalizations and stereotypes I think we could make a huge dent in the rhetoric and bring this country together again. We all have more in common than you would learn from the idiotic tv pundits. But that statement would be a sweeping generalization and my wife would not approve.