This guy rocks. I just had to post this little snippet, and link to his site, to an article picked at random.
quote: Without knowing it at the time, I had the misfortune of belonging to one of the top-hated categories. I was Jewish, from a Hungarian and Polish background, and my mother, who was Jewish, had remarried a Romanian from a part of the country hated by everyone, including the local Romanians. I didnét know that my home town had been subject of territorial disputes between the Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman empires, then between the nations of Romania and Hungary. These facts were relayed to us in a highly comforting version in history class, a version that blamed all misfortune on class relations and tensions within economic systems. And was this version wrong? Not necessarily. The problem with it is that it left out the one unpredictable element that usually renders nonsensical the best theories, namely, people's deep-seated and emotionally unassailable stupidity.
This stupidity, which is one of the great unanalyzed factors in all history, not just that of the Balkans, is composed of the belief that the stink of one's family and tribe is vastly superior to the familial stink of the neighboring tribe; that your language is wittier or deeper; that the sounds you make when you wail away about your love for the muddy ravine in which you were conceived is much, much more melodic than the wailing of your neighbors; that the smoke-darkened icons cut out of old magazines that hang on your wall are true representations of the only gods worth praying to, and that the gods and prayer habits of the people over the hill are unspeakable offenses that will cease only when you have killed them. This kind of stupidity is like a sturdy weed: you can weed several times a day and, in the morning, there it is again.
Today in my capstone French class - which is on poverty in 1st world nations - we talked about ways to implement real solutions to the problems of cultural exclusion and poverty.
Is this phenomenon really stupidity? Is calling people obstinantly stupid going to ever help the problem? What's the problem? Why do we have these issues with elitism in every social group? Is it something that education can ever solve?
Oh, yeah! And he rocks! He makes me laugh so much. He has such a wry take on the world and life and everything. I spent several days going back in time and listening to all those NPR commentaries. They were great!
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