Several weeks ago I paid a visit to a blog I really enjoy called The Bierce Account. The writer, who calls himself Felipe Zapata, is a gringo turned Mexican and a master of ‘short and to the point’, a talent that amateurs like myself should try to develop and who knows why the hell we don’t. But what really attracts me and surely many others is his direct, ‘don’t care if it makes you so angry you spit up on yourself’ free expression of opinion. And anger some it’s bound to do, for it takes contemporary conventional wisdom straight to the chopping block. If his intention was to simply spread negativity with venomous shorthand, as many likely see it, I would not be stinking up my own pristine site with a link to his. Some believe he’s a pretentious dolt. Pretentious, perhaps.. but the guy is genuine and seems to like a good philosophical scuffle. And that makes him A-OK with me.
I really wanted to leave him a comment for his Feb. 5 post, for he discusses a pair of topics I’ve long been fascinated by: racial & ethnic diversity and multiculturalism (here’s a couple of others - 7/31/2010 and 10/19/2010). His take on the matter is that governments that impose diversity are not facing reality - that our nature as humans is to desire what’s familiar to us. Leaders in Germany and Britain seem to be finally waking up to this reality… Sound racist? Bigoted? To some, it may sound that way, but I believe he’s right on the money. Some will say he advocates a twisted fantasy of complete separation of cultures. I don’t read it that way at all. He’s simply pointing out the sad reality we live in. It’s a reality we’ve brought down upon ourselves due to the way we’re naturally prone to perceive difference.
Though I enjoy living in Mexico the same as I like many of my fellow gringos, to overload Mexico with us neighborly folks from the north would lead to unfortunate consequences.. the success of Walmart, KFC, and The Simpsons notwithstanding. It would take no more than one of you to counter with “Hell, we couldn’t possibly make it any worse than it already is!!” to magnify my point. Mexico is certainly fouled up on many levels. But don’t ever fancy the idea that you, as a gringo, or many gringos, will be able to make it better. A gringo or any foreigner in Mexico that genuinely wants to improve Mexico had better become a Mexican first.. in his heart far more importantly than on documents.
So I was at a loss for a comment, for I felt I hadn’t much to add. And then I spotted a couple of comments by Gary Denness. Gary’s an Englishman who spent six years here and has just gone home. He seems like a good bloke. I could sit down and enjoy a couple of beers with him, I think. Definitely at odds with The Bierce Account. Though his desires for the world, concerning race and ethnic relations, are far more similar to those of Sr. Felipe Zapata than I believe he can imagine. Their disagreement concerns what humanity must do for itself. And the disagreement is due to two differing methods of prioritizing our perceptions of cultural difference.
The following represents a couple of sticky pennies I dug out from underneath the cushions of the couch to toss into the matter.. a bit long.. as always, for a succinct comment under someone’s blog post. But should you happen to make it over here, Gary, this is a rebuttal to your comments at The Bierce Account. I’m with Don Felipe. It’s likely to open a can of worms… I don’t mind, as long as they’re big juicy ones….
Racial and Ethnic Diversity
There’s an adult version and a children’s version.
Almost everyone, including most adults, adheres to the latter.
You can usually tell the adult version for its scant use of the actual word itself. It represents little more than a vague side note to an individual’s observation, for it calls no attention to itself. The adult version of diversity occurs on its own. It needs not be defined for its own sake. It needs not be constantly spoken nor strong-armed into existence. It’s neither a means nor an end. It just is. The world in its basic form, free from our lower IQ methods of association that attempt to describe it, is a perfect example of diversity as an adult should see it. But when it comes to diversity among people, most of us adults continue to understand diversity as a child does.
The children’s version focuses on all of diversity’s unimportant aspects, and then tries to force them into importance. Think of it this way: whereas an adult will buy a pack of M&Ms for their peanutty and chocolaty goodness, children will always divvy them up by the yellow ones, blue ones, reds, etc. Among my childhood friends, the brown ones were never that popular.. nothing especially exciting about brown chocolate. As adults, we’ve forgotten why the various colors were so important to us. But not the producers of M&Ms. They understand clearly that the child defines and responds to diversity (in this case the various colors) for diversity’s sake and nothing more.
Also clearly understanding this are the typical intellectuals, political drones and media figures who somehow feel it’s their calling to manage public opinion. Their use of child stimuli, however, is a bit more nefarious. First, they know that the children’s version of diversity is not limited to children. Far from it. It enchants minds of all ages, in fact. They also know, as history and experience so vividly show, that using this children’s version to sway or polarize public opinion is as easy as convincing a class of third graders that people with brown eyes are superior to those with blue or green eyes, or vice versa (it’s pretty damn easy to do..). That the child or adult would ever believe that such an insignificant detail could possibly matter is the fundamental flaw of the children’s version of diversity.
Many of those who understand diversity the children’s way feel hard-pressed to address some of the foulest blunders of our human nature. Racism and ethnocentrism are but a couple. They ponder the causes of socioeconomic divides and tension along racial and ethnic statistical lines all over the globe. And they’re not off the mark when they point to the senseless fear, hatred and intolerance of anything that’s ‘different’ from one’s own familiarity as culprits. But they get sidetracked with the idea that the solution lies in the proactive reversal of the fear, hatred and intolerance of the ‘other’. Not that such causes are less than noble, but they fail to identify and attack the root of the problem. There’s something about going from total exclusion of the black guy to mandatory inclusion of the black guy.. for diversity’s sake, that simply doesn’t wash.
The root of the problem, that so few seem able to identify, is found precisely in the belief that race matters; in the belief that ‘ethnicity’ is synonymous with ‘significant difference’.
It gets even more twisted when they confuse a) those who see diversity the adult way, with b) the racists, bigots and other idiots who can’t even spell ‘supremacy’, much less exude it. This happens because neither a) nor b) accept the supposed standard solution that has been ushered in by the gallant knights of the children’s version. That (b) would oppose such measures is obvious. But for so many not to be able to distinguish (a) from (b) in terms of ‘why’ is just.. pathetic.
Those of us that comprehend diversity the adult way also blame the same senseless fear and intolerance for the virtually unstoppable human farce of ethnic and racial conflict. We also wish it would stop.. that everyone could just ‘get along’. We’re at odds with those who see it the children’s way, not because we’re intolerant or simply too stupid to acknowledge and respect difference, but because we focus more on the profound differences among humans than the superficial differences among races and ethnicities. We understand one clear detail, the irony of which is too heavy for those of the children’s version to accept - Search every soul at fault for the senseless fear and intolerance toward the ‘other’… and you’ll find that every one of them also adheres to a child’s perspective of diversity… that troubled mentality that never stops mining for importance where there is none.
And so we have the reality of the world we live in today. In terms of race and ethnicity, it’s molded and dominated by a children’s version of diversity. Aspects of our humanity that truly don’t matter have to somehow matter anyway because we continue to falsely believe that they matter.
Until such nonsense ceases, don’t hold your breath for any realization of solutions.
Couldn’t have said it better myself.