Letters: Our stereotypes and prejudices

The cast of Bravo's

The cast of Bravo's "Princesses: Long Island," photographed in Great Neck Estates. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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Columnist Lane Filler appears to be “blaming the victim” .

Certainly some Italian- Americans are “connected,” as he notes. Also, some Jewish women in America are self-indulgent and spoiled. What Filler fails to realize is that these are universal behaviors. There are individuals in all groups who participate in criminal activities, and Jewish women do not have a monopoly on self-indulgent behavior.

Some people link a particular trait to a group because they have learned to do so. Prejudice is a learned behavior. We learn that, “They all are . . .” We learn that each member of the group shares all the characteristics of the group. And we learn stereotypes before even having experiences with members of specific groups. We are programmed to see certain groups from a particular perspective. For example, an Italian-American who is a criminal is an Italian-American criminal. A member of our own group, whom we perceive to be a criminal, is just a criminal.

Rather than folks putting more effort into counseling their brethren, I suggest educating people about the insidious and complex socio-historical processes that lead to stereotyping.

William Egelman, Westbury

Editor’s note: The writer is a professor of sociology at Iona College.


I was relieved that Lane Filler’s final paragraph says that when groups are stereotyped, “It’s hurtful, and limiting and attributes to huge numbers of people traits they don’t embody.”

If truthfulness is our goal, we should stop perpetuating stereotypes so that people can be seen and treated as individuals.

Jealousy and sour grapes already do enough damage. Serious mistreatment of Jewish women has resulted from stereotyping, especially on college campuses. Can anyone think that prejudice is a victimless process? Throughout history, Jews have been at the forefront of fighting prejudices against others. We should all unite to speak out for fairness and dignity for everyone.

Most groups have been struggling for many years, collectively and individually, to improve themselves. Shouldn’t we recognize and applaud those efforts?

Judith Pfeffer, Woodmere

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It is with sheer anger that I respond to Adam Haber’s ad critical of Thomas Suozzi’s record as Nassau County executive .

It’s one thing to criticize his record on tax increases and the debt, but to do it in a crass and subtle fashion depicting burly characters in a restaurant eating pasta and drinking wine, craving Suozzi’s election so they can get lucrative raises, strongly suggests that Suozzi associates with “Sopranos”-type people.

The implication is clear. Haber is trying to get a leg up by playing the ethnic card. Why wasn’t the discussion over sandwiches or a cup of coffee? Why did the ad end with someone slurping spaghetti?

Haber should be reminded that Italian-Americans will vote in the September primary. An action such as this will have no legs at all.

Louis J. Gallo, Jr., Miller Place

Editor’s note: The writer is state chairman of the social justice commission of the Order Sons of Italy in America. 


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