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  • We Really Need to Get Out More

    Posted by Margaret on 17th July 2012 (All posts by )

    My husband is presently attempting to wind down his software business and is suddenly discovering vast chunks of free time. Recently he heard that the Blanton Museum, at UT Austin, was looking for volunteer docents. So he volunteered, took the sample tour, blew through the training materials over the weekend, and went over there today expecting to pass the test and get assigned hours.

    He didn’t get as far as the test.

    First there was another tour, composed (I think) entirely of volunteer docents, who were encouraged to ask intelligent questions and add to the discussion.

    Well, they’re having an exhibition of Western art right now. So they’re looking at a picture of a buffalo, and somebody says, “Didn’t we exterminate the buffalo in order to deprive the Indians of food?” and the official docent says yes, yes, that’s right. And Steve pipes up and says there are a few other factors to be considered, such as the fact that the Comanche horse herds seriously overgrazed Texas and deprived the buffalo herds of food.

    Come the end of the tour, a snippy Museum Lady takes Steve aside and essentially tells him not to bother taking the test, they don’t need his kind around there.

    Steve came home saying, “I don’t get it. What did I do?”

    See, he’s spent the last 30 years buried in map label placement and gridding algorithms, and had not been exposed to the total smothering effect of extreme Political Correctness. He knows not to say anything bad about Obama at neighborhood get-togethers, but that’s about it.

    I had to explain to him: “You said something negative. About American Indians. At an art museum. On a college campus!”

    Posted in Uncategorized | 15 Comments »

    “Americans, who are you?”

    Posted by onparkstreet on 28th August 2011 (All posts by )

    I left the following comment at zenpundit :

    Kabir says,

    “I don’t touch ink or paper
    This hand never grasped a pen
    The greatness of four ages
    Kabir tells with his mouth alone”

    Tom Tom Club (Wordy Rappinghood) says,

    “Words in paper, words in books
    Words on TV, words for crooks
    Words of comfort, words of peace
    Words to make the fighting cease”

    And Asia Times writes,

    The channel broadcasts in Pashto language from 12 pm to 3 pm in the afternoon and 6 pm to 8 pm in the evening. The programs include jihadi taranay (jihadi motivational songs….

    And drones the size of bees, some day

    And mobiles crossing the Kush; they play

    Tribal songs for jihadi alms, a call-to-arms

    On 11/11 our cell phones say:

    And Americans can talk endlessly about the importance of democracy, but they never thought to explain to the chiefs why they came back to Afghanistan. They arrived with suitcases full of cash to buy help – but they never told the chiefs that they were there because the way al Qaeda attacked the US on 9/11 meant that many Americans couldn’t find so much as a fingernail of their massacred relatives to bury because the bodies were ground to dust.
    .
    Not to be able to bury one’s dead or even a piece of one’s dead — knowing THAT would have meant a great deal to the chiefs and those in their tribes. But the Americans never explained, never even cried, never showed emotion. THEY NEVER ACTED HUMAN; they never interacted with the Afghans in ways that are the same for all — not only all humans but all mammalian creatures. In other words, they displayed not a whit of common sense.
    .
    What do you talk about when you first sit down with a man whose life has been circumscribed by war and who knows nothing about you and your tribe? The answer is you tell me of your battles, I’ll tell you of mine and in this way we establish a commonality of experience.
    .
    You transform the rug or patch of sand you’re sitting on into the terrain of the battle, and you use sticks and stones or teacups as place markers for the troops to show how the battle was fought. In this way, you demonstrate that the battle is truly in your heart, that it means enough to you that you can bring it alive for another.
    .
    If you don’t show what’s in your heart, then you haven’t established a basis for developing a mutual understanding, so then there is no way to move off the dime. Only when you’ve demonstrated by your stories of war that your tribe also shed much blood for independence, can you move on to explaining stuff about government. You can explain that you were losing too many of your sons in battle so you devised a type of government that would help defend your freedoms and with less bloodshed. And so on.

    Pundita, “Americans, who are you?

    Contra Pundita, I bet this has been done sporadically between some who are working together as NATO attempts to build an Afghan Army – one able to protect its borders and serve as an irritant to transnational groups in the region. Many stories have yet to be told….

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Americas, Anglosphere, Blogging, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Poetry, USA | 6 Comments »