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What part of “E pluribus unum” do you not understand?

11 February 2011

BBC World news has a short (and alas not easily downloaded) clip on the work of Argentine photographer Ariel Carlomagno, “The many faces of Mexico” which — besides in some small way making up for the caddish behavior (behaviour?) of those upper-crust twits on their second rate knockoff of Tom and Ray,  The Car Guys — is a nice counterpoint to recent bashing the idea of multi-culturalism has taken, not just in Britain, but even here in Mexico.

Of course, the British attack came from a politician (well, the Prime Minister, to be exact) and was couched in the terms of a critique of how a government social policy is implemented — “state multiculturalism” as he called it.  It probably is a “dog whistle” appealing to racists and xenophobes, but British “identity politics” and the long history of English racial theories is something they have to live with… I don’t.

The anti-multiculturalism rant from Mexico was harder to figure out, the author being a long-time foreign resident blogger (nothing wrong with that), who — even though he continually lets readers know he is married to a Mexican — appears to have moved to Mexico well over the weight limit of emotional baggage.

The pseudonymous author of “The Bierce Account” sets up a ridiculous “straw man” argument between “Don Trendy” and “Don Ambrose”. that frankly makes no sense at all.  Either “The Bierce Account” takes his sense of “multiculturalism” from sources hostile to diversity, or his intellectual development was stunted somewhere before Franz Boas started publishing at the turn of the 20th century. There is certainly nothing “Trendy” in the idea that minority cultures exist and are valid components of a national culture… nor that the national culture is stronger and better for diversity.

The Don Ambrose character also misquotes Abraham Lincoln, totally misusing Lincoln’s “A house divided against itself cannot stand” to somehow argue that nations are like families… all alike (Which, I suppose might be true if you’re talking about incestuous families… or royalty — which amounts to the same thing).  The REAL Ambrose Bierce, proud of his service in Mr. Lincoln’s Army — would have made mincemeat of this poseur.  I might suggest “Don Ambrose” read Bierce’s work, starting with The Affair at Coulter’s Notch, and The Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge: both dealing with cultural identity in the multi-cultural world of 1860s United States.

But, to be honest, I’m not all that interested in the fake Ambrose Bierce, nor in his several other several pseudonymous sites, nor in the bizarre Alan Wall, whose “Letters from Mexico” are still available on vdare.com who  like “Bierce” makes continual mention of being married to a Mexican, as a shield against claims of racism.  I’m not going to bother with the links for Alan Wall — they’re on a white supremacist “hate site” that is blocked in some countries (and by U.S. military computers) which means a good number of my regular readers can’t access it anyway.  And I don’t think racist assholes deserve any hits , except maybe the kind delivered with a baseball bat.

I am bothered that there are foreigners who just don’t “get” Mexico, but feel obligated to write about the place as if they have a cultural understanding of it. What makes this so very, very odd is that these guys seem to consciously block out the fact that they live in one of the most radically multi-cultural societies on the planet.  Is it always peaceful?  No, but even conflicts that involve communities of varying ethnicities are not rooted in their cultural differences, but in normal things like property disputes. One does, occasionally run across inter-cultural disputes between members of a community embracing “mainstream values” and dissidents holding “traditional values” (as in religious conflicts in Chiapas within Mayan communes), but they are NOT the result of “multi-culturalism” (trendy or otherwise), but of cultural values in transition… and even “mainstream” cultures change.

At any rate, the Bierce Account author — like Alan Wall — is what one hopes is only a handful of foreign (mostly U.S.) Mexican residents who are obsessed with their own self-proclaimed position as the arbiters of cultural propriety. That is, as representatives of “white culture” they feel obligated to pick out the flaws in Mexico, or Latin America (or elsewhere) as “proof” of the superiority of whatever it was they left behind. Which, of course, begs the question why they are here, other than they seem to expect those of us who embrace Mexico, and celebrate our differences, to shoulder their white man’s burden.

Photos all copyright © Ariel Carlomagno:  Latidos de América.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 February 2011 7:58 am

    Rich, if you want to post BBC videos on your blog, the easiest method is by opening a http://vodpod.com/ account, grabbing the bookmarklet and adding the Beeb video to your Vodpod collection. You can then grab WordPress shortcode to add the video into your blog.

    I’ve already added to this conversation elsewhere. I’d like someone to define multiculuralism, please. In a concise, easy to digest manner that we can all agree upon. As I understand it, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but if anyone wants to have a go….

    Mr ‘Bierce’, as with all the others who have come out against multiculturalism, have as yet failed to define multiculturalism, let alone proffer a genuine solution. They might as well come out against the ‘colour green’. Or any of a huge number of facts of life which they might not like but cannot do anything about.

    The anti-multiculturalism rant from Mexico was harder to figure out

    It’s not really. Once, if you’ll forgive my thieving of the phrase, you’ve removed the lipstick and pretty dress. For example, calls for the banning of Islamic dress might be made. But nun’s rights to don the habit will remain unmentioned…

    • 11 February 2011 8:18 pm

      Sorry, Gary — I probably should have mentioned your site (http://garydenness.co.uk) as the one that tipped me off to a rant I otherwise wouldn’t have seen. I don’t think “multicultural” is all that hard to figure out … perhaps defining “culture” is a problem, but all that is implied is the tolerance of the differences between subgroups of people, and the understanding that the way people do things is not necessarily right or wrong, just different.

  2. 11 February 2011 8:27 am

    multiculturalism = The Black Eyed Peas sing it – believe it:

    One Tribe, one time, one planet, one race
    It’s all one blood, don’t care about your face
    The color of your eye or the tone of your skin
    Don’t care where ya are
    Don’t care where ya been
    Cause where we gonna go
    Is where we wanna be
    The place where the little language is unity
    And the continent is called Pangaea
    And the main ideas are connected like a spear
    No propaganda, They tried to upper hand us
    Cause man I’m loving this peace
    Man, man, I’m loving this peace
    Man, man, I’m loving this peace
    I don’t need no leader
    That’s gonna force feed a
    Concept that make me think I need to
    Fear my brother and fear my sister
    And shoot my neighbor or my big missile
    If I had an enemy to {enemy}
    If I had an enemy to {enemy}
    If I had an enemy, then my enemy is gonna try to come and kill me
    Cause I’m his enemy
    There’s one tribe ya’ll

    One tribe ya’ll
    One tribe ya’ll
    One tribe ya’ll
    We are one people
    Let’s cast amnesia, forget about all that evil
    Forget about all that evil, that evil that they feed ya
    Let’s cast amnesia, forget about all that evil
    That evil that they feed ya
    Remember that we’re one people
    We are one people
    One people, one people {One People}
    One people, one people {One People}
    One people, one people {One People}

    One tribe, one tribe
    One tribe, one time, one planet, one {race}
    Race, one love, one people, one {and}
    Too many things that’s causing one {to}
    To forget about the main cause
    Connecting, uniting
    But the evil is seen and alive in us
    So our hopes are colliding
    And our peace is sinking like Poseidon
    But, we know that the one {one}
    The evil one is threatened by the sum {sum}
    So he’ll come and try and separate the sum
    But he dumb, he didn’t know we had a way to overcome
    Rejuvenated by the beating of the drum
    Come together by the cycle of the hum
    Freedom when all become one {one}
    Forever

    One tribe ya’ll
    One tribe ya’ll
    One tribe ya’ll
    We are one people
    Let’s cast amnesia
    Forget about all that evil {evil}
    Forget about all that evil {evil}
    That evil that they feed ya
    Let’s cast amnesia
    Forget about all that evil {evil}
    That evil, that they feed ya {feed ya}
    Remember that we’re one people
    We are one people
    One people, one people {One People}
    One people, one people {One People}
    One people, one people {One People}

    One love, one blood, one people
    One heart, one beat, we equal
    Conected like the internet
    United that’s how we do
    Let’s break walls, so we see through
    Let love and peace lead you
    We could overcome the complication cause we need to
    Help each other, make these changes
    Brother, sister, rearrange this
    The way I’m thinking that we can change this bad condition
    Wait, use you mind and not your grid
    Let’s connect and then proceed
    This is something I believe
    We are one, we’re all just people

    One tribe ya’ll
    One tribe ya’ll
    One tribe ya’ll
    We are one people
    Let’s cast amnesia
    Forget about all that evil
    Forget about all that evil, that evil that they feed ya
    Let’s cast amnesia
    Let’s cast amnesia, forget about all that evil
    That evil, that they feed ya
    We’re one tribe ya’ll
    We people, we people
    One tribe ya’ll
    One people, one people {One People}
    One people, one people {One People}
    One people, one people {One People}
    One people, one people {One People}
    One people, one people {One People}
    One people, one people {One People}

    Let’s, let’s cast amnesia
    Lord help me out
    Trying to figure out what it’s all about {what it’s all about}
    Cause we’re one in the same {one in the same}
    Same joy, same pain
    And I hope that you’re there when I need ya
    Cause maybe we need amnesia
    And I don’t wanna sound like a preacher
    But we need to be one

    One world, one love, one passion
    One tribe, one understanding
    Cause you and me can become one

  3. 23 August 2014 4:19 am

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    on the internet. I will recommend this website!

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