29 October 2011

Lied to?

Those who remarked upon racial differences in the past, we've been promised, did so for one reason: They were European Supremacists.  Anyone who attempted to quantify such differences was driven by the need to prove his own group's superiority.  'Don't read those books,' we're told as youngsters, 'they're a lot of racist nonsense.'

So we don't.  And they molder on library shelves, relics to forget about.

Until we do.

And see we've been deceived.

22 October 2011

Chalk and cheese

"Our Italian colleagues from University of Rome Tor Vergata and University of Parma proposed 
an idea that [as far as] public feelings of security and trust in the judicial system, southern and northern Italy should be treated as two separate countries. 
In their view, they are as different as chalk and cheese: in the northern part,
the sense of necessity in terms of obeying the rules and moral condemnation of corruptive conduct in authoritative organs is much higher than in the South."  

How many 'nations' can a nation contain?  Depends on whom one asks.  Inhabitants of the former Yugoslavia, the former Sudan, the former Rhodesia could perhaps enlighten us.  Or those living in the current Kashmir, or Caucusus, or Flanders.

Richard Griggs and Peter Hocknell have pegged the number of actual nations existing on planet earth at between 6000 and 9000.  Europe alone, they say, is home to over one hundred.  Lines drawn on maps by generals and statesmen tell us lies and half-truths.  One nation, different beliefs, different values, different characters: What can a map really tell us?

Here, for example, is the nation known as the Italian Republic:

15 October 2011

Ethnic Co-existence, Yesterday

People of our age have adopted the curious habit of considering ourselves more advanced, better informed, more wise, than the people of any generation who came before us.

This is new.

Peoples past always looked backwards toward a "golden age" of prosperity and wisdom whose great men were giants of philosophy, of whom we today are but a pale reflection.  Why this change of heart among moderns?

Our technical innovation?  Cuisinarts and contact lenses and polystyrene beer cozies are the proof that we have transcended our forebears in sagacity?

It would appear so, as even the opinions of our most prominent ancestors from two or three centuries past are today often held up to ridicule.  This is particularly so when it comes to that most delicate of modern questions, ethnic co-habitation.  The zeitgeist of our age, here in the West at the start of the 21st century, holds that each neighborhood should be an even blend of many ethnic groups:  salt and pepper and cinammon and cumin put into the same shaker, thoroughly mixed, and sprinkled liberally.

Our forebears, even the most illustrious, would find such a thought curious indeed.