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Ideological Conformity- Not ____Enough

 
 
Reply Tue 5 Nov, 2002 07:23 am
As illustrated by remarks made recently by Harry Belafonte, many people from various ethnic groups have criticized others in their group for not being in ideological lockstep. This op-ed piece explores the phenomenon:


http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20021104/4588728s.htm


What is YOUR take on this?



P.S. I posted this to Human Interest, on purpose. I think that this issue goes far beyond politics- It encompasses everything that makes us unique and human, religion, lifestyle, the very core of our being!
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 7,351 • Replies: 54
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Nov, 2002 10:13 am
Ah! What does Jonathan Zimmerman know? he's not really ethnic enough! <chortle>

I think this happens a lot. Liberman got beat up for it during the 2000 race, Charles Barkley is getting beat up for it right now. There have been several, women that had names lobbed at them by groups like NOW because they refused to buy into some of NOW's more fringe positions.

To some extent I'd guess it's a way of "calling back the herd" to use a sheep metaphor. It's like the shepard realizes that "one got away" and just wants to cut his losses so they alienate the one that strayed in order to keep the rest from following. If any of the rest of the herd dares step out of line they know what's coming.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Tue 5 Nov, 2002 10:18 am
OOh, interesting topic. I've thought about it a lot in terms of the Deaf community. There's a major "not Deaf enough" component, which I have found really destructive. I've found that the more internalized oppression is, the more this tendency rears its head.

I think an overriding aspect is expression of power by those who feel powerlessness thrust upon them. In the Deaf community, those with hearing parents, who had horrible educational experiences and only started to feel at ease when they arrived at Gallaudet (an all-deaf university) are disproportionately the ones who hurl these accusations. The ones with Deaf parents, who have always been at ease with their Deafness, are usually much more inclusive.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Tue 5 Nov, 2002 10:20 am
(And I totally relate to the last section of Zimmerman's article.)
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fishin
 
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Reply Tue 5 Nov, 2002 10:25 am
Soz - Didn't you open a discussion on Abuzz at one point about that? As I recall it had something to do with cochlear (sp?) implants and some opposition to them.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Tue 5 Nov, 2002 10:26 am
Yup, exactly right. I can post the link if you'd like. (It wasn't about that at the outset, but that became a sizable component.)
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Craven de Kere
 
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Reply Tue 5 Nov, 2002 10:38 am
I agree that this phenomenon exists and I didn't like what Belafonte said about the slaves who live in the master's house. But I do agree with him in that Powell is going against his own grain these days.

But that's just because he's a team player to the end. Sure he might not like what's being done, but he isn't the boss so he tows the line. I don't think Powell is a sellout but yes I think he is supporting policy that he doesn't agree with. This has nothing to do with race though, and Belafonte was a grade A arse to bring up the slavery comparison.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Tue 5 Nov, 2002 11:14 am
Something else:

Cultures that have faced extermination in one way or another are especially sensitive to this. If there is a sense that the culture could die out because of outside influences, there is even more resistance to the idea of the culture being diluted and possibly dying out through the actions of people who are "supposed" to be protecting that culture.
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fishin
 
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Reply Tue 5 Nov, 2002 11:53 am
Soz - You just hit on something I was thinking about the other day.. Look for a spin-off thread soon!
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Tue 5 Nov, 2002 05:17 pm
I see no problem in Harry Belafonte being able to voice an opinion -- perhaps the media overplayed it? It certainly shook everyone up and also more than is warranted. It isn't going to change Colin Powell's basic "war as a very last resort doctrine" even though one can help being suspicious that he has been coached to tone down the rhetoric (when I don't believe it is rhetoric -- he really is of that bent and I think he has been remiss in not voicing it with more aplomb). However, Powell like most politicians is just not an eloquent speaker -- we haven't had anyone high up in the government who was since I've been out of college and that was Stevenson. Sorry, John Kenney calling himself a donut didn't quite make it for me.
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JoanneDorel
 
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Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2002 09:56 am
Loved the article Phoenix, arguing over who is the more pure in any ethnic issue is always weird to me. Where I went to school, elementary, middle, and high school in a bedroom community south of San Diego and just barely north of Tijuana ethinic background was never an issue. The little, in the 50s, community of Chula Vista was home to senior enlisted personnel, junior officers, and employees of what used to be Rohr Aircraft and Ryan Air Craft. The community was diverse and about 50/50 people of color, WASPs, and Asian.

Until I lived in Columbus, OH, I did not even know what ethnic background meant. When I moved to Ohio the people I met always asked what my maiden name was(?). I did not know why for the longest time and finally I asked a good friend and found out that as nice as the people of Ohio are they wanted to know my ethnic back ground. It was worse on the East Coast, my former husband is what they call black Irish, coal black hair and a mustache. People in the D.C. suburbs were always asking me if he was a Mexican because we had moved there from Califonia, sheesh.

One summer when my mother was visiting I came home from work and asked her about my ethnic back ground. She wanted to know why at age 34 I would ask a question like that and I explained that there had been a conversation at work about ethnic background which started mainly because someone had asked one of my Jewish co-workers how he got the name Patrick. His story was cool, his parents stopped for a time in Ireland while fleeing Nazi Germany and so his parents named him Patrick. When it was my time to share all I could say was my family was from Kansas. That really cracked my mom up. So she sat me down and explained my ethinic background. Pure WASP it turns out, English, French, and German.
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Debacle
 
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Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2002 06:07 pm
I wonder if Mr. Belafonte holds that only we WASP's have the right to a mind of our own. Hell's bells, I've been out of lock-step with most of my peers more often than not on a whole host of issues, great and small.

Perhaps Harry should read Hank Thoreau....

"Shall a man go and hang himself because he belongs to the race of pygmies, and not be the biggest pygmie he can..... If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."
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edgarblythe
 
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Reply Thu 7 Nov, 2002 06:08 am
Belafonte/Powell
I have loved Belafonte since 1957. I bought all of his records and still play them. I have criticized Powell most vigorously for years. As you see, I may be a bit biased. But, Belafonte's remarks about the slaves in the master's house is historically correct. I think applying it to Powell may not be far off the mark. After all, Powell has had to modify his almost every position since taking his job. It certainly (for me) calls into question his ethical integrity.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Nov, 2002 06:19 am
edgarblythe-

Yes, Belafonte's remarks were HISTORICALLY correct, but this is 2002, not 1860.

I think that the black people who have forged ahead in this society have been the ones who have thrown off the slave mentality. People like Belafonte, Jackson and Sharpton, IMO, hurt the cause of the black people
by insisting that they not think for themselves, and behave like a pack of sheep.

I don't know what Belafonte's "game" is, but in the case of Sharpton and Jackson, it is money, power and self-aggrandisement.
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Nov, 2002 09:41 am
Maybe, after the manner of Warren Christopher, Powell will decide to quietly depart at the end of Bush's first term. Meanwhile, Secretary of State is an appointed office, subordinate to the Chief Executive, which is the highest elected office.

I doubt Belafonte has a game. I doubt his wisdom more than his sincerity.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Nov, 2002 09:49 am
Quote:
I doubt Belafonte has a game. I doubt his wisdom more than his sincerity.


Well put, Roger. I agree.
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Diane
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Nov, 2002 03:37 pm
Phoenix, the article was excellent.

When ethnic groups close ranks, imo, it is because they have been abused by society; they haven't had access to the services and education that the rest of us take for granted. They are used to feeling threatened.

What saddens me is that they too often refuse to make any acknowlegement when one of their programs no longer works, or that it never answered the needs of the segment of society it was supposed to help.

These programs become institutionalized, with careers built around them with years of acceptance, regardless of their effectiveness. Very few people have the courage to speak out about the need for change. When egos and systems are challenged, those in power will fight back, even to the detriment of the very people they were supposed to help.

Condoleeza Rice being called a traitor to her people is an example. Even though she can show dozens of examples of the failure of bilingual education, those in power refuse to listen and respond with immature defensiveness rather than examining ways to make effective changes.

There are so many examples of different ethnic groups who have had minimal bilingual education until they became proficient enough in English to enter mainstream classes within a few months or a year at most.
It doesn't take these students very long to adapt to learning in English and becoming competitve with their American classmates. Those who remain in bilingual education for years, never seem to catch up. The very program that is supposed to help, only hinders.

Whether it is institutionalization, ego, or the need for self aggrandizment, the end result is harmful to the people who are most in need of help.

As for Colin Powell, politics is a somewhat different animal. I sometimes think that, in the case of Powell, he would rather remain in a position of power and accomplish as much as he can in an unfriendly environment than quit and give up any hope of making a difference.

There is only so much he can do. The president is his boss and he has to follow orders up to a point. I think he has quietly made an impact on the government and probably has been able to at least tone down some of the president's more outrageous ideas.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Nov, 2002 04:27 pm
The major problem i see in this is the legacy of militant radicalism from the sixties. Political rectitude is the offspring of the mentality that all "types" of people should be tolerated. The basic flaw from the beginning is in seeing people as types, and not as individuals. With the hectoring tone that many 60's radicals adopted, they got a stonewall response, and attitudes on both sides hardened. It did not take long for the political rectitude gestapo to emerge, those who would review your every statement (not your thoughts, as, thank dog, they couldn't read minds) to assure that you were displaying the requisite tolerance.

So what do you do about Chester Siafa? Chester is a man i worked with about 10 years ago. Chester is African, not African-American, but African, although he might have been descended from slaves sent from America, because he was born in Liberia. Chester has a thick Irish accent, because he learned the English language from Irish missionaries. Chester's ambition in life is to live the good life, and, as he speaks standard English well (and does not understand ebola, or whatever the hell they have named the speech of African-Americans who choose not to speak standard English), he has a good shot. He started by selling shoes in a retail outlet, and now he sells insurance. He did well in his first job, and he's doing well in his current job. And he has come to hate African-Americans, who sneer at him, call him an oreo, and generally go out of their way to express their contempt for a man who looks like them, and speaks and acts like a white man (in their slanted opinion).

When the militants had decided that tolerance needed enforcing, and the political rectitude gestapo was born, they assured that tolerance would go right out the window. They don't accept that anyone will step to a different measure, and they will damn well let you know it right away. I was raised in an atomsphere in which racism was not expressed, and was quickly and firmly condemned when encountered. And this attitude was one of true tolerance, making no distinction between the rural agricultural black man and the black urban factory worker. My grandfather had a black chauffeur who had been born and raised in the Bronx. He was always slighted by southern blacks for being an Uncle Tom, because he sounded like he was from the Bronx, and, in their eyes, he spoke "like whitey." As a small boy, when i asked my grandfather (the other one, the one who drove his own car) about this, he pointed out that being a victim of prejudice did not immunize one from being prejudiced. I had to ask him what immunize meant, but that was the way i learned from him.

So, when you try to enforce an "ethnic standard" on someone, you are being intolerant. There is the further risk of bigotry. I know a young gentleman in Columbus, Ohio, who is so proud of being Jewish, and so convinced of the superiority of Jews, that he considers bigotry to be a good thing, that he, as a Jew, has a right to feel superior, and to point that out to others. It went right over his head when i told him that prejudice is endemic in bigotry. But when you decide that you are superior because of your ethnic heritage, or any other reason, then you have decided that those who do not fit the definition are inferior--you have judged a woman in advance of knowing her--you are prejudiced.

At any event, the world little notes that ALL members of the Setanta tribe are so obviously superior, that we should be in charge. Of course, since wearing brightly colored clothing, and singing, dancing and laying about in the warm sunshine are our ultimate goals in life, it is unlikely that we'll ever take over--you inferior types have nothing to fear from us.
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husker
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Nov, 2002 04:53 pm
intercultural racism??

A little off but: Cultural perspective?? George Washington might be considered an American hero to whites, since he owned black slaves he may be considered just the opposite to blacks??
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Nov, 2002 04:56 pm
<laughing out loud> at ----->"and does not understand ebola, or. . . ."

Do you write for a living? Somehow, I had the idea you were in accounting, or something tedious like that. That was a great essay.
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