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Post Blind to Differences? Nonsense
Created by John Eipper on 10/08/19 4:24 AM

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Blind to Differences? Nonsense (Timothy Brown, USA, 10/08/19 4:24 am)

Can anyone in WAIS honestly say they've never been to a country, state, county, city or rural area, or anywhere, where the differences between individuals or groups were always invisible to everyone? I certainly never was.

Israel? Orthodox Jew. Our next door neighbor was Jewish but not allowed in the local cafe because she was from Iran; in the Netherlands, not Surinamese; French West Indies--Guadeloupean not Martiniquais or vice versa; Thailand--Thai, not Chinese, Pi Tong Luang (hill tribal), Kmein (Cambodian) or Malayu (Malasian); Filipino--from Luzon not Mindoro; Paraguay--Guarani, not Argentine or Brazilian. Or, closer to home, from northern Nevada not Las Vegan. I could go on for hours.

I've spent more than forty-five years in more than eighteen countries but never found one where people were blind to ethnicity, color, age, sex, dress, accent, attitude, religion, politics, and on and on. What I did was do my best to be friendly and respectful of all, from Cuban and Soviet officials during the Cold War to peasants or tribal, even sworn enemies. But I never pretended not to be aware of the differences between a male and a female, a child and an elder, a Christian and a Muslim or even an enemy and an ally.

So what, you may ask? Try respecting and even befriending both those that are the same as you and those that are different. It might even make it easier to communicate with those you hope to transform into someone more to your liking because they don't think like you.

JE comments: I was thinking all evening about the appeal for Quebeckers to vote for "someone who resembles you." (See Barbara Molas, 7 October.) Isn't Montreal one of the most diverse cities on the planet? Its rival, Toronto, is home to some 200 ethnic groups, and Montreal cannot be far behind. One difference between Quebec nativism and that of the rest of Canada (and the US) is the language factor. Do the newcomers in Montreal prefer to speak English, or are there enough Francophone immigrants to maintain the linguistic status quo? I hope Barbara will tell us more.

Tim, I'm intrigued by the visual differences among Nevadans. Do Renoites look down on the parvenu Las Vegans? As for "native costume," is it jeans and Stetsons vs sequins and feathers?  Also, tell us about the Martinique-Guadeloupe antipathy.  Who disdains who?  You suggest above that both disdain both.


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  • Montreal's Multiculturalism (Bàrbara Molas, Canada 10/09/19 2:38 AM)
    To respond to John E (October 8th), Toronto's multiculturalism is fairly recent. Historically, the most culturally diverse city in Canada had been Montreal.

    Currently, and according to the most recent published demographic data, Montreal's population includes French (26%), Italian (7%), Irish (6%), English (4%), Scottish (3%) and Spanish (2%). About 31% of the city's population belongs to a visible minority, up dramatically from just 5% in 1981. The most common visible minorities are African (9.1%), Arabic (6.4%), Latin Americans (4.2%), South Asians (3.3%) and Chinese (2.9%).


    Although French is the official language of Montreal, many ethnic groups and "new immigrants" choose English over French because they generally believe that English allows for more job opportunities and professional advancement. This is regardless of the fact that being able to work both in French and English in Quebec (and broadly anywhere else in Canada) means a higher salary. Precisely, one of the main arguments of Quebec nativism is that, by choosing English over French, "foreigners" (whatever that might mean) are threatening the French Canadian identity and Quebec's claims for a "special status" as legitimate representative of the second "founding nation."


    JE comments:  Montreal is unique in several ways.  For starters, it's the only major city of its language in an entire hemisphere. (I hope Quebec, at 500,000 population, doesn't mind being excluded from major city-hood.)  Moreover, Montreal is one of the very few cities where immigrants choose the hegemonic language at the expense of the historic, "native" one.  Singapore is similar.  English is also the most spoken language in Dubai.  And the example of Barcelona is somewhat analogous (Spanish over Catalan).  Russian is still more widely spoken in Kiev than Ukrainian.  I'm certainly overlooking other examples.


    So linguistically speaking, Montreal may not be entirely unique.  But it's still the only city with its own appelation of smoked meat.  I haven't visited Montreal since my Dartmouth days.  Must do something about that.

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  • Vive La Difference: Martinique, Guadeloupe, Reno, Las Vegas (Timothy Brown, USA 10/09/19 3:07 AM)
    On Guadeloupe v Martinique: During the slavery years, slave auctions were held in Martinique--then, and still, the center of governance of the French Antilles. The "best" were bought by the wealthiest and most powerful--first come first serve, if you will. The rest were sent to Guadeloupe. Hence, during my years as US Consul General there, I often heard the terms "the gentlemen of Martinique: The men of Guadeloupe."

    On Renoites v Lost Vegans, ask someone from San Francisco about Los Angelenos, Scots about Brits, Dutch about Germans--or vice versa anywhere. Social differentiation is natural. Even those who believe they themselves are totally free of prejudices consider those that are not free of prejudices somehow their inferiors. Disdain is when one person despises another with "haughty contempt." Absolute equality is when one believes they are totally blind to the differences between themselves and another. Neither extreme is good.


    Example: I have friends that would once have willingly killed me and friends that would have willingly killed them. When brought together at the Universidad de Las Americas in Puebla, Mexico, both realized how similar they were to one another, hence my book When the AK-47s Fall Silent--five veteran Marxist revolutionaries and four anti-Marxist counter-revolutionaries, nine former enemies coming together.  Finally.


    JE comments:  We could set up another category of cities/places that consider themselves superior because of some recondite and long-ago historical event.  Tim Brown mentions the Martiniquais associating themselves with the "house servants" of the slavery era.  Across the globe in Adelaide, Australia, the locals will quickly point out that they began as settlers, not convicts, unlike those "Pommy" scoundrels in Sydney and Melbourne.  (POHM/Pommy:  Prisoner of Her/His Majesty.)  In the US, however, Georgians have long forgotten their convict roots.


    I cannot think of other examples, but it's still very early in the day...

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  • Two Pilots, and Racism in Mena Saud (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 10/09/19 3:49 AM)
    Excellent post from Timothy Brown, 8 October.

    I had the same experiences as Tim. Wherever I went around the world I found latent or even open racism among white, black, yellow, mixed, one nationality against another all the way down to Savona against Genoa and vice versa, right down to the smallest village.


    Do you remember the war film with the great John Wayne defeating the "yellow monkey" Japanese? Now, on the contrary, with the ridiculous political correctness we have a black actor David Gyasi portraying Achilles in Troy: Fall of a City, but that is another story.


    The most astonishing case of racism happened to me when I was loading/mooring master at Mena Saud. I had two very good skippers on the powerful pilot boat that went out to the tankers.  One was Amin an Eritrean, the other Ahmad a Saudi. The latter once saved my life. We were returning to the shore in very rough seas.  Mooring to the small wooden berth was impossible so I jumped into the sea and started climbing on it but a huge wave swept in, pushing the pilot boat against me and the berth.  I could have been badly crushed against the wooden poles but Ahmad with great skill maneuvered the boat to avoid the worst and I was only bruised. Later Amin piloted the boat to anchor in a shelter area about one mile away.


    One day Ahmad asked me if the Italians were racist against black people. He had a "cappuccino" skin color, so I believed he was referring to himself. Of course I said no and stated that racism is wrong.



    But Ahmad answered that he was referring to the "real" black Amin and stated that the blacks were born to be slaves and he was concerned about my friendship with someone who should be treated as slave and not as a friend.


    Many years later I heard that Ahmad had killed Amin.



    My soul is still very sad: someone to whom I was deeply grateful killed my friend.


    JE comments:  The Saudis may be the least "politically correct" people on the planet, but many nations are close.  Anti-PC has now become nearly mainstream in the United States, where the PC movement got its start.


    This is a sad story, Eugenio.  Did you learn the details of Amin's murder?


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