My father was a bigot. He wasn't especially passionate or outspoken about it. In his mind, blacks were simply inferior to whites. This was for him a fact of the natural order. Dogs hate cats. Leaves change colors in the fall. Whites inhabit a higher social order than blacks befitting whites’ presumed superior intellect and character.
His condescension was genteel, so long as it was met with the expected level of deference. He never used the n-word when addressing an African American directly. That would have been rude and unnecessarily hurtful. But among fellow whites that was the habitual way to refer to blacks.
As despicable as I found all of this, I have to admit that there was no naked hatred involved in my father’s prejudice against African Americans. I can say this because I witnessed his response to the Japanese. He reserved a visceral hatred for the people of Japan until the day he died.
My father was a sailor in the Pacific theater during World War II. He served in various capacities. Frogman. Landing craft pilot. Anti-aircraft gunner. Japanese soldiers, sailors, and pilots had tried to kill him on a number occasions. But that’s not why he hated them. The Japanese had killed his friends.
He was glad we dropped the bomb on them. He could never forgive them. And he had neither an interest in forgiving them nor a sense of moral obligation to do so.
He hated them. They were his enemy. Hate is what you do with an enemy.