The so-called Beer Summit just held at the White House does not conjure up images of harmony and cultural diversity enhancing our national identity. By now everyone is aware of the basic facts in the matter and the only real issues are those that divide us and and highlight our differences. I choose the word salon for the specific reason that it invokes the milieu of the European high society mixing and mingling in their salons of the eras. That is where the elites met to visit, exchange gossip and bemoan the crudeness of the common man. Those afternoon and evening soirees were still popular into the late 19th century and were even imitated into the 20th. I don’t have a problem with anyone being an elite or being smarter than me. I acknowledge that there are lots of folks who would be ahead of me on the social scale and would best me by significant numbers on the standard IQ test. We have our differences which some want to reinforce when they are lecturing us and telling us about teachable moments. They even spell it out for us slow and tell us it is a teachable moment. What I don’t abide well is hypocrisy and one-size-fits all society and government.
I like my heritage of European culture from England primarily and a bit of German and even Czech. I don’t enjoy the culture from south of the border. That doesn’t make them bad people or me either. I just don’t like loud colors, loud brassy music or people sitting too close to me in the car. They, I am sure, think I am stuffy, not fun and anti-social. Some people like Rap and whatever they call rock and roll these days; me, I can’t understand why anyone would listen to that when they have Gershwin, Cole Porter, Beethoven, Bach, or Glenn Miller. Mr. Gates came up on affirmative action diets and a very aggressive advancement not for Americans but with black America. He has obviously prospered well with his niche in life. He clearly is not proud to be an American. He and that first lady person share something in common it seems. Gates views himself first and foremost as Black rather than American. The guy in the White House it is manifestly evident is of the same mind set. His immediate reaction was to take sides with his fellow black elite. Not only did he take sides he demeaned those who dared to infringe on the perceived respect that he thought Gates was due.
We are very different. But we seek out those who mostly fall within the ambit of our own cultural background and outlook. That doesn’t make enemies of those who we don’t want to mix with; it just acknowledges the fact of evolution and social bonding that occurs in all societies. We need to teach respect for each other, not attempt this forced appreciation of other cultures. That will never prevail. See the Balkans as example one and take France or Brazil for the next two. The list would go on and on. Treating each other with respect, even those we don’t identify with can and should be done by the government and by us as individuals. The Balkans are an example of trying to shoe horn clashing cultures. That clash has existed for centuries and we know how well it worked in just the last 15 years. Peace was only restored after the various societies there separated themselves. In Brazil in the 1950’s they proposed and made a big deal out of developing what they called the Cosmic Race. They were going to intergrate all socieity and races into one. The blacks, hispanics , Europeans, Jews, everyone would intermarry and all society in the workplace, schools and government would be one. They would only think of themselves as Brazilians of the Cosmic Race. That experiment never made it out of the laboratory. France for two centuries prided itself own intergration of all races and cultures. It viewed itself as the the sophisticates of the world and would set the example for the rest of us. How did that effort work out? Paris is surrounded by suburbs of minorities who riot at the drop of a hat and the Parisians are for the most part fed up with it. Don’t take me word for it, read the international papers. Surely you noticed the recent elections and the call for saving European culture in France, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain, to name only a few. I think we can have harmony if we go with the flow of nature and focus on respect and recognizing the dignity of every group and avoid force feeding “appreciation” of differing cultures.
The rolled up sleeves and hoisted beer mugs don’t make a close circle of friends. That is ok. What not ok is to pretend that if we only rub elbows all the time that we will enjoy each other more. That won’t happen. Just because I will go to my grave not liking Rap or understanding those who do, doesn’t mean that I have to be cruel or demeaning to anyone. There will be a real marketing effort to say everyone should sing kum by ya together. We would be better off using the same lessons we were all taught in kindergarten or first grade that you play nice even if you don’t like someone. The law can require certain behavoir that doesn’t deny rights to anyone and it should do that. The law shouldn’t try to get into my mind and tell me what kind of American I have to be. The government should be a stern and fair referree between the cultures and not try to be Emily Post.
Before the age of GPS, wireless radio and cell phones there was still the need to communicate rapidly and accurately. As so often it was the military that devised a method. A British Admiral named Popham in the very late 18th century devised a system using 24 flags that represented both letters and numbers with a matching code/log book. The system could sent over 250,000 different messages between the ships over miles of ocean as long as they were in sight of one another. The same basic method was used as late as WWII when the flags would be run up to give directions to the convoys so as to maintain radio silence against the German Uboats. http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com