Are humans to be doomed to this phenomenon until the end of time? Is there to be no golden moment in which mainstream societies will be able to overcome their pathological fear of the Other?
And are Others doomed to huddle in our ghettos, paralyzed with our own fear of the Man? And why does he get to be the Man? Are we not men? It would appear that we are indeed Devo, devolving as opposed to evolving.
If there is anything that the Man, for want of a better appellation, fears more than the Other, it may be being reminded of his fear.
It should be pointed out that Otherness has not always been confined, as many may assume, to non-whites.
There was a time when it was common in the city of Boston to see signs in windows looking for employees that said at the bottom “No Irish Need Apply.”
Now the Irish, as Irish, have pretty thoroughly assimilated themselves, as was their right and their choice, and have now become the Man – with the exeption of their Catholicism.
As recently as 1960, when JFK ran for President, he was considered, as a Catholic, Other enough so that there was lively debate on the question of whether his religious affiliation might be an impediment to his serving as President. And even in 2004 there were similar murmurings over one of the Democratic Party millionaires with wonderful hair and outstanding suits.
In the US, legalized racial apartheid was not ended until the 1960s, and as Jimmy Carter pointed out in his remarks at Coretta King’s funeral, if one doubts that there is still much work to be done on the task of achieving Dr. King’s dream, one need only remember the color of the faces of the people in New Orleans during Operation Crescent Cleansing. Of course Carter did not call it that, but he was roundly scolded for having had the temerity to say such impolite things in front of America’s Dear Leader.
Nor is this a uniquely American practice. When disenfranchised, marginalized, poverty-stricken youths were burning cars in France, naturally there was a great effort made by the American media to relate this somehow to
“Al Qaeda,” this kind of thing was even seen on the “progressive” blogs, including this one, though even if one accepts all the Washington orthodoxy of the Great Muslim Conspiracy, these particular youths were about as far from religious fundamentalists as one can get, they were burning cars to protest lack of jobs, decent housing, and ghettoization of their immigrant communities.
France has even gone so far as to ban hijab in its public schools, in an attempt to cut down on visible Muslims in the streets, and in Russia, Germany, and England, roving bands of “neo-Nazis” seek out and beat up any Others who may have been unwise enough to stray from their ghettos and cross the paths of these shaven-headed self-appointed protectors of their respective Fatherlands.
Anti-Muslim sentiment has reached such mouth-foaming frenzy in the US that even to question it is to risk any and everything from social ostracization to job loss to physical violence. Not since the anti-Jewish sentiment encouraged by Hitler in Germany has a cultural group been so intensely and proudly reviled.
Even Europe, with its neo-Nazi gangs and its own systematic ghettoization of minorites, has not, to Washington’s dismay, been able to work up sufficient anti-Arab frothiness to expedite America’s imminent crusade expansion.
Rarely does a week go by without at a police beating, or shooting, “caught on tape” in the US, and if any of these incidents have featured white victims, I am not aware of it. The most recent involved a Hispanic man, returned from Iraq. Even offering up one’s life and doing God knows what to stuff the Man’s pockets at the expense of one’s own soul is not enough. No matter how much homage he may receive from crusade fans who will call him a hero and thank him for his service, once he takes off that uniform, he is still just another Other.
Naturally, this does not exactly inspire minority communities to trust and snuggle up to the Man, or as so many appear to wish, attempt to make themselves into him, in hopes of becoming an acceptable Token Other, like Barak Obama, as opposed to an uppity, unacceptable Other like Al Sharpton. It does not matter that Al is in his own way, just as much of a playa as Barak. And it certainly does not matter that he is about twelve times as smart. Al is just too black, too uppity.
Others are expected to be a bit humble, and obsessively and fanatically imitative of every aspect of the mainstream culture, from dress to speech to attitudes, and are never, ever supposed to complain about anti-Other-ism. That is just being arrogant and judgmental and playing the race card.
Today, we can chalk a lot of it up to changing global demographics, and the desperation of the 14% or so and dropping of the world’s people, who own something like 85% of the world’s resources realizing that their predominance, like their recessive blue eyes, are not sustainable.
But the history goes back even farther, even before the Irish were Other, before slavery, back to when European invaders encountered the Americas presumptuously and provocatively chock-a-block with Other, and set about exterminating as many of them as possible.
Could it be that those invaders had read Mendel? Could do math?
Or could it be that for all the advances and enlightenment that has supposedly been accomplished by mankind since cave days, that we are doomed to go to our extinction trapped in the darkness of tribal warfare?