In Vincent N. Parrillo’s essay titled “Causes of Prejudice” from Re-Reading America; Parrillo examines racial and social prejudices and the forces or emotions which instigate prejudice. Parrillo accredits the causes of prejudice to many emotions that can start festering during childhood. The main factors contributing to prejudice as Parrillo sees it are self-justification, authoritarian personalities, low self esteem and frustration within oneself.
Parillo argues that prejudice can arise from self justification. He describes self justification as denigrating a person or group to justify maltreating them. Many people need reassurance that their actions are just and that the ends justify the means. For this reason people tend to look for flaws in their victims. Little things that make their victims seem inferior, a threat to others, and dissolute; by making this connection to their victims they in turn make their own actions of prejudice just, right and moral. This is how Parrillo specifies it:
Some philosophers argue that we are not so much rational creatures as we are rationalizing creatures. We require reassurance that the things we do and the lives we live are proper, that good reasons for our actions exist. If we can convince ourselves that another group is inferior, immoral, or dangerous, we may feel justified in discriminating against its members, enslaving them, or even killing them.(Parrillo 507)
Parrillo shows us that self justification is something everyone is good at and when one is capable of justifying their actions they can become very dangerous. By justifying their acts of prejudice they can argue that their actions are for the greater good and that what they are doing is right. This is even more dangerous than people who act prejudicially towards others just for prejudices sake. History can prove that self justification prejudice usually leads to the deaths of many innocent lives. Self...