Thursday, September 21, 2006

Let's bring back the ghettos

The term ghetto usually has negative connotations becuase of its historical origins: a minority group living together due to legal, social, or economic pressure. Of course the Nazis also ruined the use of the word ghetto, but they also are responsible for people being uncomfortable with Wagner. Is that really fair? If Wagner has now been performed in Israel I think we can rehabilate the word ghetto. What we often forget is that the original ghettos offered a level of protection to the minority group. They were with others who had the same ethnic and religious background. They were able to keep alive their cultures including their language. I think of the "Little Canadas" found in New England. It was here that French Canadians lived together preserving their culture. They had their own schools, banks, stores, and churches where French was spoken. It was really an amazing system.

Perhaps it is time that we re-visit the idea of ghettos. If one is living in a ghetto he knows exactly where everyone stands. One would not have to tip-toe around sensitive issues and political correctness would be a thing of the past (for example if you went to the Polish ghetto to buy sausage you wouldn't tell Polish jokes). A downside to the ghetto would be a certain level of stagnation around the exchange of ideas, and it would contribute to certain provincial attitudes, but there is a downside to everything.

Some may call this isolationist thinking, but I call it better living through knowing who your neighbors are.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Islam takes the high road

I am so happy that Islam has taken the high road and has become so outspoken over people saying offensive things and calling for a culture of tolerance. The event that has brought this to light was Pope Benedict XVI recent address at a German university. The pope was speaking on the nature of religion and violence and quoted the 14th century Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II. It is the 14th century quote that has unified the world wide Muslim community and has caused them to demand an apology from the pontiff for such derogatory remarks.

As we all know the Islamic world has always been a promoter of tolerance as seen in such demonstrative acts like the burning of US flags, the taking and beheading of western hostages, and how can we forget the Muslim on Muslim violence in Iraq. The Pakistani parliament has condemned Pope Benedict's comments and are demanding an apology. They called the comments derogatory. Pakistan of course is also a beacon of tolerance in the dark world of intolerance unless of course they are dealing with the Hindus in India. Historically Islam has been tolerant as well. We can point to the peaceful co-existence of the Ottoman Turks with the Christian Byzantine empire especially when in 1453 Constantinople (the capital of the Christian eastern empire) was conquered by the Ottomans, the name of the city changed, and one of the oldest churches in Christendom turned into a mosque. All the tolerance is just warming my usually cold heart.

So thank you Muslim leaders of the world for teaching me how to accept my neighbor who may be different.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Steve Irwin - RIP

I was shocked to hear on the radio early this morning that the Crocodile Hunter had been killed. As I reflected on this I realized that Irwin could have been a spokesman for Absurd Men Speak. What he did in life was truly absurd and even in death it all sounds absurd. A stingray attack to the chest? Wow.

I'm sure that our friend and contributor Gaius Germanicus is taking this news particularly hard since it was Irwin who inspired him to take up his career of wrestling crickets and relocating daddy-long-legs.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Enough celebrating... Let's get back to business

After a week of celebrating the achievements of the Absurd Men we must return to the serious business at hand. Today marks the beginning of September and what I will call the end of my least favorite season of the year, summer. Why do dislike summer? It is hot and people feel entitled to wear unflattering clothes in public places. I'm not sure why in hot weather any sense of propriety seems to go out the window. Some of it goes back to my theories on the fact we live in an overly comfortable society (thus the reason I still wear long sleeves and suitcoats in the summer as a protest), and the other is that people no longer give a damn about themselves. If you don't understand what I mean go to a Wal-Mart and people watch. While I'm on this rant I'm going to take aim at another one of my arch enemies... flip-flops. I hate flip-flops. How can any one like a shoe named after the sound that it makes? These things were designed to be worn at the the beach and in public showers. Some how have they become trendy?! Help me to understand. They don't even look comfortable to wear. I don't know since I've never worn them.

So to summer I say, "Good bye and good riddance." It's now time for wool, boots, and some sense of decorum.