Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Knock, Knock

So can we tease all of these strange factors apart as we try to analyze these bombers? And do we ourselves complicate the analysis?

Certainly we are a factor. Everyone has a bit of xenophobia; that is how we identify our own tribe. But we have not been helped by our official information sources. When the President points to the victims of a xenophobic bombing as a tribute to our diversity, people will get suspicious. When a man attacks unarmed soldiers at Fort Hood screaming "Allahu Akbar!" at the top of his lungs most people expect some religious overtones. These overtones may not be clear--like screaming "Geronimo" jumping off a diving board has little to do with Chiricahua Apaches -- but when it is carefully described as "workplace violence" these same people will again become suspicious and might seek opinions elsewhere. And those new opinions may be equally confused.

Perhaps diversity is not the point. Maybe quality and compatibility are. No culture is homogeneous--except maybe Japan. Some scattering along the curve is to be expected everywhere. But in all cultures the people share some basic beliefs, otherwise they are an amalgamation, not a culture. Any "diversity" should demand some common sharing of those beliefs. More, there is no reason to expect that all cultures are on the same path, are sharing the same continuum. There is no reason other than romantic to think that there is a logical progression from hunter-gatherer to agriculture to mercantilism to The Age of Enlightenment in all cultures. The Aztecs might never have had their Madison. And diversity has never been the international policy of the West; whenever the West is faced with ethnic, cultural or religious unrest, the West partitions.

So Attila living on the South Side might have caused Chicago a lot of angst. Probably Chicago would have done the same to him. But we would do better not pursuing Attila as an interesting addition to our diversity pool; it would be too much for both sides. So maybe if there is a knock on the door and we say "Who's there?" we should consider the answer. And our response should probably not be the same if the answer is "The Dali Lama" or "Ragnar, the Viking."

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