Stories From A Life

Been there. Done that. Writing about it.

Sally Swift

Sally Swift
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
June 14
VP, Repartee
Swift Retorts
sally: a journey, a venture, an expression of feeling, an outburst, a quip, a wisecrack ... me


Editor’s Pick
JUNE 10, 2011 1:47AM

Does Profiling Cancel My Liberal Label?

Rate: 36 Flag


I grew up in an ultra Liberal home. We were taught early and often the importance of equality and tolerance for all. No racial or religious slurs or jokes allowed, we were raised Enlightened, accepting of all creeds, cultures, beliefs. And to be what was called at the time "color blind."

That's the kind of adult I became. I worked, played, still live the Rainbow Lifestyle. It's reflected in my circle of friends and family, my politics and solid record of hard work for equal rights, anti-discrimination, anti-bigotry, pro-choice, pro-LGBT rights. I'm proud to be a lifelong, dedicated Liberal. 

And yet. Here's my ugly little secret: I profile.

If you're honest you'll admit you do too.

Pro or Con?
I profile everybody from scummy Snookie and the venal Housewives to that doofus Weiner. Politicians, ball players, celebrities, all fair game, sure. But strangers on the bus, cab drivers and the guy who runs the 7-11? Hazy logic. And yet it's become reflexive.

Which is so counter-intuitive to the me I've always been. I walk the Liberal walk. Work for Liberal causes. Talk the Liberal talk. Put my money where my mouth is. And all the while, I now realize, I'm profiling.

I think many of my newly acquired assumptions based on people's looks, speech, behavior, and sometimes ethnicity, are coming from today's cold, hard realities. At least I hope that's the case.

We've all developed profiling criteria in response to the overkill of bad news, wars, bombings, scandals, despicable acts by those in powerful positions. We can't be unaffected by the endless river of disgusting data about so much deplorable behavior.

So, Liberal as I feel, it's hard not to recoil, prejudge, form unsavory  impressions and thus profile the people, groups or countries behaving badly.

In many cases, I'm not far off the mark. But there are times I have been so wrong it's downright inexcusable.

It makes me cringe, but I'm going to tell you a true story about my Worst. Profiling. Fail. Ever.

The Power of Suggestion
I'm not proud of this story, but I fear too many of us have similar ones -- especially since 9/11. What's that old joke? A Conservative is a former Liberal who's been mugged.

Our country was mugged on 9/11 and has been hammered by threats and actual attacks met with apparent ineptitude in many ways by our leaders. Which doesn't excuse my profiling, especially in this case.

In fact it's become my personal Object Lesson: No matter how much you believe you're a bona fide Liberal, life in the 21st Century can make your hidden prejudices jump up and bite you on the ass. You've got to face them down. And stand up even more firmly for what you know is right.

Case in point:

The Passenger
About five years ago I was flying home from visiting my parents in Florida. Something about terrorism was in the news. Everyone was on edge. As usual I'd upgraded
to First Class with my frequent flier miles. (Go ahead, profile me).

I usually meet interesting people when I travel. Hoping for a lively conversationalist, I settled in with anticipation to see who'd take the empty seat next to me.

Just as the doors were about to close, I found out...

And got an ugly glimpse into my own worse self.

A swarthy, unshaven man with dark rumpled hair, wearing baggy jeans and a loose white shirt
appliqued with a huge multi-colored dragon stowed a battered briefcase and sat down. The epitome of a character from the TSA Watch List.

He nodded, barely looking at me and opened a magazine with pictures of nail guns, screwdrivers, large hammers, power tools.

The Profile
Whoa! How'd he get on the plane -- and in First Class?? He was the last to board so they must have searched him. I hope they were thorough. What if they weren't? Plus, I bet he smells. (A casual sniff dispelled that concern).

Don't be so quick to judge me. Our crack TSA teams don't always inspire confidence, certainly didn't five years ago. And this guy looked seriously creepy. What would you think?

I shrunk into my aisle seat and buried myself in my book. The man soon fell asleep, head against the window, and I began to relax.

The Proof?
About a half hour before landing, his body suddenly began jerking, his hands turned inward, his mouth moving with no sound.

Drugs, I thought immediately. Or a diversion. I bolted to the galley for help. Flight attendants came to observe him. Some passengers began to notice. Murmurs of alarm moved through the cabin.

A flight attendant sat in my seat and touched the man lightly on the arm. "Sir, sir! Are you all right?" she said quietly, "Do you need help?"

One final jerk, then his eyes opened. He blinked, looked around and smiled sheepishly, clearly embarrassed.

"Oh, I'm sorry," he said. "I have a condition called narcolepsy. Often when I fall asleep it's difficult to wake up. But I'm okay now."

I sat back down and asked if there was anything I could do. "No, thank you," he said with quiet dignity. "And you don't have to worry. I'm a doctor so I know I'm fine. I must have gotten overtired visiting my parents."

I felt like an idiot.

The Professor
We chatted for the remaining half hour. I learned that when his condition made it impossible to practice medicine, he'd become a public health consultant, eventually a deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services under Donna Shalala in the Clinton administration.

We swapped Beltway and Democratic Party stories ... it turns out we had friends in common. We were, of course, both Liberal Democrats. (I'm cringing again now).

He told me he was forced to retire from public service after a heart attack. "I mentor medical students training for public health careers," he said. "Especially in the inner city. And I spend my free time rehabbing an old house in the Art Museum area." The power tool magazine!

"It's great not to wear suits and ties any more," he added. "Now I can indulge my inner Latin with these crazy shirts my mother makes for me."

Latin! I'd assumed Middle Eastern. Mother! Oh brother. Unknowingly he'd held up a big mirror reflecting my flaming inner racist.

Or maybe not so unknowingly. As we shook hands in Baggage Claim he held my gaze a moment and said, "You know, profiling's a way of life now. I don't let it bother me. It protects all of us from the bad guys." Then he smiled and walked away.

One of the really good guys.

It'll be a cold day in hell before I judge another book by its cover without first taking a cold hard read of myself.

Profiling has become more than a way of life, it's turned into a nasty excuse for racism, classism, bigotry, ethnic denigration. And it's a lightening rod for Liberals everywhere.

Except that profiling isn't exclusive to Teabaggers, Right Wingnuts, would-be torturers, TSA, CIA or the FBI. It's done every day. By YOU and ME.





Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Have you profiled me? Not such a tiny hypocrisy, eh.
I can't say that I have beyond thinking you a nice lady who is very busy.
Sally, stop beating yourself up. Profiling does not cancel your liberal label. I could write this post about any of a dozen ethnic profiles I have simply learned through life experiences to pre-judge. Not as terrorists per se, but about expectations of behaviour and characteristics. If I include, for example, Irish men vs Latin men as husbands, it doesn't seem so bad. I would never marry a man from a Latin background based on experience. I have extreme issues with men from more female-oppressive ethnic backgrounds at work. I don't get into cabs with certain men, because I pre-judge their opinion of me, or I pre-judge my potential safety with them. I need to feel safe in this world today. It is wisdom and experience that leads you here - not a lack of liberalism.
Pssst--- I learned this back when the Eastern Seaboard elites coined the word "liberal": liberals can be the worst bigots, racists and assholes!

I sure met plenty of them.

But we are all on edge these days.

The issue is this: Some of us are also looking out for the next Timothy McVeigh, Hannibal the Cannibal, or homegrown terrorist at the same time that we are looking for the next 911 hijackers. Evil comes in all colors.

Swarthy people might scare White people, but White people might scare Swarthy people even more!
"A swarthy, unshaven man with dark rumpled hair, wearing baggy jeans and a loose white shirt appliqued with a huge multi-colored dragon stowed a battered briefcase and sat down. "

Yeah, but I thought you were a nice person even if you did label me!! PFFFT!! ;D

I still think my wife's boss is a terrorist!! :D
Of course you profile. We all do. We are human. We all do, unconsciously. Much better to admit it. Denial only fuels prejudice.
Every one of us looks at surfaces and eaches a level of comfort/discomfort.

The only issue is when we translate daily discomforts into demeaning, discriminatory public policies.

Most of us have been guilty of this from time to time in the last 10 years. But don't worry, you are still a good liberal. Otherwise you wouldn't have learned from your error then blogged about it. If you weren't a liberal you would have had a moment's cognitive dissonance on that plane then gone on merrily profiling.
Your liberal card is safe, at least with me. Profiling is one of the things that makes us human. It is a gift, not a curse, IMHO. It allows us to make quick assessments of our surroundings and what to expect from them. It is when the profiling becomes irrational that the problems start. If you had jumped out of your seat and demanded to be moved, THEN I would snatch your card. :)

Somehow I had you profiled as a Liberal.

My bad.
Don't feel bad. A few years back Jesse Jackson admitted he gets nervous when he's walking down the street alone at night and sees younger black men coming towards him. Makes sense, as the numbers I've seen indicate that approximately 5,000 black men will be killed by other black men this year. Until that fact changes, his involuntary reaction is probably justified, or at least understandable.

I've been racially profiled on the South Side of Chicago, as has another white, male friend of mine whose red hair stuck out like a sore thumb on 53rd Street--cops slowing down beside us and saying "What the hell are you doing in this neighborhood?"

And my favorite is the last remaining acceptable prejudice in America, against "hicks" from the south, midwest, rural areas. I read an article by a Harvard professor who writes a great deal about race and prejudice the other day who defended certain stereotypes, including "all people from the Midwest are hayseeds." I'm thinking of writing him a letter saying--"like Miles Davis? T.S. Eliot? Mark Twain?"
I think it's natural to judge people by externals, by our "gut." Not always bad, if done in moderation. Even if we're rainbow liberals.
These moments of reawakened self awareness are both humbling and enlightening. Let's take security away from the airports and take the risk of people attacking us.

I grieve for the over 3,000 families who lost loved ones on 9/11 but we have to move on.
I agree with Wolfman. To be a true "liberal" one must understand the difference between surface imagery and the reality beneath. The surface imagery is illusion and is often based on externally imposed or internally created subjective impressions. It is almost impossible to escape these. This doesn't make you a hypocrite. It makes you human. All people come with preconceptions.

What makes you a hypocrite isn't your "thoughts" but whether you allow surface imagery/preconceived conceptions to influence your actions in a way that contradicts your official, rhetorical, ideological/philosophical committments.

For example, if you call yourself a liberal, but then burn a cross on somebody's lawn. Or if you deny somebody a job based on race or religion.

Having a preconception and knowing the irrational, illogical basis for it is often the first step in ensuring that it doesn't intrude into your more basic thought processes, such that it can influence your actions, unbeknownst-like/inadvertantly.

In any event, the greatest issue of our day isn't the commission of politically correct thought crimes like the kind you mention above, but the plight of the common man, of the working and laboring classes of this nation who are being pushed into a state of indentured servitude and degredation by our predatory Capitalist overlords.
I meant "politically incorrect" rather than "politically correct" lol.
Con Chapman made an interesting point. I've seen the phrase "white trash" used in post titles and blogs. Praise was heaped on the writer for the funny stuff but the underlying profiling was missed. It's all around us in many forms. The cloak can change but the sentiments may not.
It doesn't make any difference at all if one hasn't lost their liberal card yet, if their actions tell another story.
I wonder if he profiled you, too, Sally.

I don't see this as a moral conflict, at least initially, rather a separation of our brain specialties. I tend to lead with my id, as I suspect most people do. Our lizard reflexes helped us get through the natural selection screening. The trick is to understand that limbic perception is limited to a simpler set of measurements - those most urgent to our survival wiring - and then to apply reasoning to vet those perceptions. Sounds easier than it is, for me anyway, but the more mistakes I've made - plenty, sad to say - the better I've gotten at it.

Much enjoyed your account.
As LuminousMuse said, learn from it, move on, and be determined to examine your reaction if such a situation comes up again. That's all that can be asked of any human being.
I hate to admit it but I think we all do sometimes. At least we do not do it all the time.
Rated with hugs
We live in a scary world and I think if I was next to someone who was exhibiting strange behavior, I would be uncomfortable too!
I know this will seem self-serving...yet RW has it right: it is not our momentary fears and distractions that make us bigots--it's ou willingness to see them translated into law and regulation.
excellent piece, sally. what you describe is something that's probably happened to everyone we know at least once. realizing your mistake and trying to check your own baggage before you do it again is the key to being not only a good lib but a better person. (oh, and that's what i use the ff miles for, too, so there.) xoxo
We live in a tense world. We are nervous. Did you act on your immediate reaction to this man?, NO. Did you adjust your thoughts when you learned a little more? Yes. I am pretty sure you are the Liberal you have been and will continue to be and that you learned about yourself and this gentleman from this experience. That's life.
Okay Sally, my take on this is that when we are looking to assess the danger involved in a usually safe situation we look around with the widest latitude towards identifying such dangers. If we see the source of that danger and note it are we profiling or being cautious? If we allow for the benefit of the doubt and get a chance to know that person a bit and find that there is no danger all we have really done is try to protect ourselves. As your seatmate implied he accepted the risks of that concern as being in everyone's best interests. I think that profiling is the unwillingness to accept that looks do not indicate intent and behaving towards that person as though the threats were personified by him/her without exception and treating them as tough they had committed those acts or were in the process of committing them without further justification. So, I suppose, in a way we all profile to a certain extent. This in itself doesn't remove our liberal tag. If we are unable to accept those people who we see as possible threats as being not a threat then we cross the line. You're cool Sally.
Don’t be sad Liberal Lady:
Even the Nazis were liberal—only with each other.

Congratulations, you’ve discovered your inner Nazi— Sieg Heil!

(P.S. Please stay away from me)
MrsRaptor, thank you. I'd say the same about you.

Kellylark, I totally agree that wisdom and experience are essential, but still should be tempered by self-awareness.

Xeno, you help make my point. It wasn't one thing about him -- color or grooming or dress-- it was all those and more put together that raised my antenae.

Tink! I was trying to keep your identity secret.
Patrick, the perfect summation of my dilemma. Followed by Jon's equally perfect coda.

sweet Holly, I had no idea I ever came across as snobby but am so glad you sussed out the real me. Plus, fyi, I Never get privilege right until spellcheck does it for me.

Luminous, thank you. Succinct and to the point. And definitely rings my inner bell of truth.

Lezlie, of course you're right. So much depends on definition and context.
What you describe is human nature and it is human nature to prejudge. We seem to be hard wired for it. I LOVE your encounter with the passenger on the plane. When we get our assumptions blown out of the water, it's like a tiny bit of heart melting that eases us into seeing someone else for who they are, not for who we think they are. Fantastic post Sally. So glad you got an EP.
First of all, I answered a few comments from my beloved iPad, not noticing the outrageously disgraceful comment equating me with a Nazi. I guess the name Swift doesn't profile as Jewish eh. I'll leave the comment up because I'm such a good Liberal I believe even hate-baiting juvenile idiots should have their say.

Nick, I love ya, you Liberal Lunk.

Con, I know the Jesse Jackson story and you're so right about "hicks and hayseeds," not to mention "trailer trash." We're so far past that now though, profiling Hispanics and other groups by trying to legislate against them. Ugh.

Lea and Dog, we agree. Thanks for taking me off the hook.

Rwoo59, aka, you and Con made my point far more eloquently than I did. It's actions, not words. Which is something I somehow couldn't bring myself to mention in the story... why didn't *I* tap him gently and ask if he was okay? Still bothers me.

Matt, see my confessed dilemma just above.

Jeanette, Linda, Susie, you're all wise and gracious. We have to learn, move on and hope not to make the same mistake twice. I don't think I have re this issue, but maybe...

Candy, good advice and nice pun, learning from my mistake on a plane and checking my baggage. Oh yeah, First or nuttin honey.

LSD, confirmation from you helps confirm my hope that I still am who I am.

Bob, I agree being cautious does require some "profiling." It's what we do when we learn there's no reason for concern that matters. Thanks for saying that so clearly.
Mary, I missed your great comment! I love this, "When we get our assumptions blown out of the water, it's like a tiny bit of heart melting that eases us into seeing someone else for who they are, not for who we think they are." As always, you've hit the heart of the matter. I only wish I remembered his name and hope he's still doing well.
We all do it. And, to some extent, we've all been the recipients of profiling by others, often legally sanctioned. Just ask any 18-25 year old male trying to get auto insurance. Or any individual with a driver's license under the age of 25 trying to rent a car.
I don't know Sally, you keep writing pieces about the shared responsibility we all have for the world and there's gonna be a lot less cable news show. . .a lot less partisanship. . .a better world. . . . .
Great piece!
Sally, this is just an excellent piece in every way. I understand this completely. Some days I challenge myself not to judge, not to make assumptions, not to profile. It is hard work even for us liberals... :) ~r

Steve, the only thing about "profiling" for car insurance is that it's more about reality and actuarial tables... young men under 26 have the highest accident rates. Otherwise, we're on the same page.

smithie, I get it. And remember, I was *visiting* the Hamptons, not living there. Who loves ya, baby?

Roger, I am always so humbled by your praise. Your writing just soars, wish I could do that.

Joan, you're a master in the Inner Soar, wish I could do that too. You're so right, we have to challenge ourselves every day.
You didn't tap him because (1) he might have lurched into a lethal martial arts response or (2) he might have had cooties.
Everyone does it, Sally. Everyone is prejudiced, everyone is bigoted, everyone is racist. The thing to do is to acknowledge that's the way it is, and to work on it. Which of course most people--but clearly not you!--are incapable of doing, alas.

Damn hot-headed red heads! I mean, wait, no, did I say that out loud?
As an MOT, you get that we are judged by what we do, not by what we feel. Feelings aren't controllable; actions are. Start there.

You judge by experiences. That's normal. That's how we learn. The problem comes when someone innocent bears the consequences. No one did in this case, so relax.
This is a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for your honesty. Anyone who says they don't profile or have any prejudices is a liar and a hypocrite...Wait, was I just profiling?
i profiled you once as tightassed gal with glasses.
then as liberal gal with daddy issues.
and then as a regular gal.

sorry for the mistakes.

i mean nothing of what i say.
sorry, barely noticed you. who are you?

kidding again.

i am on a campaign to earn art james the title of king for the night
of os. i have conflicted movements and motives.

i am quicksilver. iam not goint to apologize for anything anymore.

i am guiltridden but i shall get it out in wartalk.

boo, afghanistan.
yay ira(q)(n)

ha= my only message
The truth is that we all make snap judgments. In the first moments after I meet someone, I have taken note of their age, gender, race, height, weight, disabilities (if any), etc. The thing that should distinguish us, as supposed liberals, is not to act on those snap judgments and be open to having those judgments proven wrong.
Interesting point Sally. I was brought up something like you and travelling a lot and getting to know folks from a wide range of cultures helped me avoid a lot of the instant prejudice that seems to take hold so easily. But I know I'm not pure.

The other day in the hot weather I noticed a black kid on the subway with the outlandishly baggy pants and a hoodie. And I thought "Who in hell would hire him for anything?" We wouldn't, even though we're an organization that sometimes reaches out to the community I pegged him for.

I'm a jumble of thoughts on this topic. Some profiling seems reasonable and accurate. Shortly after 9/11, in the discussion of profiling at the airport, The Economist counter the anti-profiling argument by question why it was better to put Chinese grandmothers through the same procedures as young, Middle Eastern men just to balance the numbers. But there's no doubt that profiling has severe downsides. There are the individual cases like yours in your post, and the effect it has on a larger group. You've given me plenty to think about.
I don't think at all that profiling is a newly developed habit. It is an ingrained ability, an evolutionary advantage, that people, even other animals, use to decide how to react quickly...friend or foe. We wouldn't last long in the jungle without the ability to make quick judgments. The error can be in assuming that our prejudging is correct. Let it naturally make us wary, but take time to discover if our assumptions are correct.

Like your story, though.
We all do it to one extent or another, Sally, even from the things we read and write here. Thanks for sharing your enlightening anecdote. I'm sure most of us have had experiences where we misjudged based on appearance.
I am not sure what a "liberal" is. I thought I was one. Then I find myself agreeing with a columnist before discovering that he is a "conservative." That's no joke.
liberals & the "politically correct" have a hard time understanding the word "discrimination" with its multiple meanings. its a double edged sword, not a single edged one. perceptions guide us through our lives, with a completely blank perception, we would be like newborn infants.
I'm as liberal as they come and I make preconceived notions about everyone I meet based on dress, speech, color of skin etc etc. Quite often I am completely wrong. My errors in judging people have led me over the years to become more cautious about being so sure of my first impressions of others.
What you are displaying is intellectual analysis of the question " why do I react in certain ways.?" People who just react without analyzing their reaction are the ones who are more likely to behave like the stereotypical "bigot".
Well done essay.
Sally, knowing who we are, awareness, is the best way to keep our behavior in allignment with our beliefs. I keep trying to learn who I am, who we are. Liberal is one label I like to live up to, and you do beuatifully.
Liberal or Conservative; I think we all "profile" to some extent. I appreciate your candor about the subject. As a conservative, I make a concentrated effort not to. I am bi-racial and many assumptions were made about me growing up.
I remember sitting in church several years back, my (ex)husband, makes an issue of a young man with dyed blue hair and facial piercings, like he shouldn't be there. I thought, "Wow, he is in church, who cares what he looks like?" He also thought people with tattoos were on the lower end of society. This young man with blue hair and piercings shows up in the Dr's office I was working in a couple of weeks later...turns out he is a Seminary student! As far as the tattoos go....some of KCPDs finest have sleeves of it. : )
Liberal or Conservative; I think we all "profile" to some extent. I appreciate your candor about the subject. As a conservative, I make a concentrated effort not to. I am bi-racial and many assumptions were made about me growing up.
I remember sitting in church several years back, my (ex)husband, makes an issue of a young man with dyed blue hair and facial piercings, like he shouldn't be there. I thought, "Wow, he is in church, who cares what he looks like?" He also thought people with tattoos were on the lower end of society. This young man with blue hair and piercings shows up in the Dr's office I was working in a couple of weeks later...turns out he is a Seminary student! As far as the tattoos go....some of KCPDs finest have sleeves of it. : )
I think assumptions are made about Liberals by Republicans and vice versa ; )
Sorry about the double post. I went back to add the last line and it copied it twice ; )
Sally: Could happen to anyone. On this one, I am not with you. I would have found him exciting and intriguing. Just different likes/dislikes.

Open your eyes. Time is limited on this earth.
Your difference, what makes you a good liberal, is that you are open to exposing & countering your prejudices -- aware of them and you don't deny them.

As for me, my first thought about the catalog was, "construction" but I expected a rich contractor or developer, not an MD. I go too far in the other direction. Example, I've given my Indian (Native American) neighbors way too many breaks, been way more tolerant of them than I'd have been of equivalent white people in the 12 or so years they've lived next to me because the parents work hard, (I tell myself) they moved here to give their kids a better chance than they'd have in the Indian projects and it's crazy hard to be an Indian in Minneapolis. But I'm telling you this, if that piece of crap they threw into my yard overnight and my dog ate turns out to hurt that dog they are going to find out just how much more voice an old white lady has in our society than any Indian does.

Finally, people's looks, speech, behavior, people control these things so they actually tell you something valid about who and what they are, the positons they take, their behavior. Ethnicity generally doesn't. E.g., I'll not judge my neighbors because they're Indian but I will both judge and take action if they tie up a dog in their back yard and abuse it until it goes insane, no matter what color they are. Ethnicity vs. behavior.
I can totally relate to this and your conclusions too.
I agree with all the posters who said that pre-judgement is natural, that the key thing is being observant and open to learning whether the pre-judgement had any validity or not, and proceeding from there with an expanded set of experiences (and a sense of humility.)

The anxiety over pre-judging and assuming that doing it sometimes is incompatible with some political identity or ethical stance....this is something that I think stems from an ideological belief among some people that racism is a state of being rather than stuff you do or say. That's why people will fight to the death over accusations of racism rather than saying, "oops! I erred on that one! I'm sorry about that." I think that's why people feel "guilty" about issues of race rather than just trying to do the best they can to treat people with respect and take responsibility for any mistakes made.
Please, do not apologize for "generalizing" . No one could get through the day without doing it. It is pathetic to hear supposedly educated people constantly berating others for what is actually a necessary trait, with survival value. The joke about liberals and muggers is far too true to be funny. Part of one's education should be an appreciation of the universality of the "Bell Shaped Curve" ; individual instances are a judgement call, not always correct, but the "exception proves the Rule".
Please, do not apologize for "generalizing" . No one could get through the day without doing it. It is pathetic to hear supposedly educated people constantly berating others for what is actually a necessary trait, with survival value. The joke about liberals and muggers is far too true to be funny. Part of one's education should be an appreciation of the universality of the "Bell Shaped Curve" ; individual instances are a judgement call, not always correct, but the "exception proves the Rule".
As a liberal who has been mugged, and who went to court to support her mugger's request for auto-body repair training, I think we are all multilayered. We don't want to sit next to people who don't wash. I have gotten off a bus, rather than do so. And we don't want to reject somebody for surface reasons -- but most of the time we don't bother to look deeper. The reasons all make sense at the time, and because they make sense, we relish the times when we learn that our first impressions were wrong.