these statements aren't only made by potential racist, but also by people claiming not to be homophobic, or against people belonging to a certain religious group (among other things).
an overly defensive little girl made the comment on another question asked by someone about race issues and I assumed she was joking/being sarcastic because ever since that guy from seinfeld said it it's been laughed at whenever anyone else says it. after I joked with her about her statement she became very defensive toward me. I definitely wasn't expecting that...
here's a quote from an article I just googled after her unnecessary hostility towards me: "friendship with black people does nothing to change racial bias." I assume the same goes for being friends with any other group of people.
Most Helpful Guy
I think the issue here is that bigots of any sort don't perceive their friends as a mere personification of a specific trait they are (black, gay, etc.). Sounds a bit strange perhaps, so let me give you an example:
Jack is a conservative and he absolutely hates muslims. He likes to say to his friends how "muslims are the worst people ever". Yet, down the street from where Jack lives, a Turkish guy named Erdan has a little store. Jack and Erdan are great friends. Jack loves to shop in Erdan's shop because it's just so much nicer, fresher and more practical than going to Walmart. Besides, Erdan makes the best Kebabs Jack has ever eaten and he's generally a really fun guy to be around. Now, here's the thing: Erdan is a muslim. Not an extremist, just a normal muslim like 98% of muslims. How is this friendship possible? Doesn't Jack hate muslims?
The answer is: he doesn't perceive Erdan as a muslim because he's got a personal relationship with him. He shops at his store. Maybe they go for a beer together once in a while, maybe they go jogging together or maybe Erdan even babysits Jack's kids once in a while. Jack doesn't even think about the religious beliefs of Erdan because his friend is much more to him than just a certain type of religiosity. "Muslims" on the other hand are a dark, scary, anonymous mass of monsters for Jack. He doesn't know them, all he knows is that he hates them for being muslims.
This behavior is quite human and we can see it in all kinds of instances. Take myself: I'm almost completely blind. For people who get to know me, I'm just "that blind guy". However, for people such as my girlfriend who've known me for a very long time, my disability is only a minute part of my whole personhood. My best friend sometimes tells me "sometimes I completely forget that you're blind". To people who've never dealt with a handicapped person, this might sound strange but it isn't. As soon as you REALLY get to know a person, you see behind their most obvious features (being disabled, being black, being muslim etc.) and you start to see the PERSON.
This is also by the way the reason why somebody like Schindler took the risk of saving hundreds of jews. For most Germans of that time JUST LIKE for many Americans of today (in the case of muslims), jews were just some sinister threat. A jew was a guy with a crooked nose that steals your money. Schindler worked with jews, he saw them in their every-day life, he talked to them, he laughed with them...1