Get it right

I have a friend on Facebook whom I originally met on WordPress.  We’ve had many wide-ranging conversations on various topics, so yes, I feel comfortable calling her a friend.

This lady is what is commonly referred to as “African-American”.  Notice the quotation marks around that label.  Had her origins been say, Japan, she’d be called (by others, not me) Japanese-American, or if she were from perhaps Germany, she’d be German-American.

Africa is a continent made of many separate and distinct nations, so why, why, why do people insist on the term “African-American”?  They wouldn’t dream of calling that German-American “European-American”, or the Japanese-American “Asian-American”, so can anybody explain to me the reason behind lumping emigrants from countries like Kenya or Botswana or Cameroon into the vague category “African-American”.  What that shows is that the person using the term considers the country of origin inconsequential – it doesn’t matter what it’s called, its in Africa, so that’s close enough.

I believe part of the problem with this inaccurate label is Hollywood.  Hollywood movies tend to depict that whole continent as one humungous country, when such is not the case.  This is also reflected in some photo galleries.  They’ll have a photo taken in Kenya for example and place it alongside another photo taken in Ghana and label them both “Africa”.  Hello!!  Never mind the fact they are two separate countries, one is on the Indian Ocean and the other on the Atlantic.  There’s a whole continent separating them.  And they don’t seem to understand why people from those respective countries get upset with the mislabeling.    A comparable error would be a woodland scene from North Carolina and one from Northern Ontario, both labelled with the generic “North America”.  Don’t you think  both Americans and Canadians wouldn’t get upset over the obvious error?  So why should people from Africa not get upset over similar ignorance?

I view it as a sign of disrespect for the person and their country of origin to refer to them as “African-Americans “.  As I wrote above, it indicates the speaker (or writer) either has  no consideration for the person they are addressing; views the country of origin as some backwater, or is just too lazy to find or use the proper term.  For those who may consider many of the African nations little more than uneducated tribes, remember that at the same time Egypt was flourishing as a centre of learning, so were many cities in the interior of Africa.  In some cases, it was the Europeans from various nations that destroyed so many of the libraries and centres of learning because in their view (and probably based on nothing more than skin colour) the people they were conquering were simply savages. They weren’t.  From what I’ve read and from what I’ve seen on some of the educational channels, in some instances these African nations were more advanced in areas like mathematics and science than the so-called conquerors.

And, a final question: If, as an American president once stated, America is a melting pot, why is the distinction necessary?  Why not just call everyone unhyphenated “Americans”?


Just ban the whole thing

This morning I was speaking with the lady who runs a local shop.  The topic was the revisions to “A Visit from St Nicholas” – see my posting “May as well use loose leaf textbooks in school” for my views on this.

We got a bit silly with this, mentioning various other sections someone, somewhere would find objectionable or politically incorrect.   With tongue planted firmly in cheek, let’s take a look this poem to see what might cause reactions.

Line 6 – “visions of sugar plums” nope, can’t have that.  Too much sugar isn’t good for kids.  Have to change that.  Maybe leave out “sugar”.  Fruit is good so “plums” can stay.

Line 13 – “The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow”.  Sexist – that will have to go as well.

Line 16 – “eight tiny reindeer”.  You’re travelling to various countries with this livestock.  Have they had all the necessary shots?  Do you have the paperwork proving this?  And are they being given a break after so many hours in the air, much like airline pilots?  And, why are you using “tiny reindeer”?  Are they capable of doing the job or are you overworking them?  Has the SPCA investigated this?

Line 27 – “up to the housetop...”  Is that a safe environment for reindeer?  Again, perhaps the animal welfare people, or PETA, should get involved here.

Line 32 – “Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.”  Don’t the authorities consider things like this breaking and entering?  Are we encouraging children to engage in criminal activity with this line?  Better get rid of it too.

Lines 41 and 42 I’ve already covered in the posting named above, so won’t go into them again.

Line 54 – “and away they all flew”.  Has St Nick filed proper flight plans for all this aerial travel?  If not he could find himself being forced down by Air Force jets.   Considering these are international flights, he could find himself in a lot of trouble.  Or, if his paperwork is in order, he wouldn’t have room for any toys.

Considering the possible problem areas I found in a quick scan of “A Visit from St Nicholas”  perhaps we’d be better just banning the whole thing.  That would solve a lot of problems.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

And no, I’m not serious about this.  Have a good laugh.


May as well use loose leaf textbooks in school

I caught an item on the early news just now and I’m ashamed to say this was a Canadian idea.

We’ve all heard of the poem “A Visit from St Nicholas” by Clement Moore, or maybe you know it better by its first line “Twas the night before Christmas”.  Some publisher in Vancouver thinks it needs to be updated for the twenty-first century.  Her new version omits the following two lines found in the original:  The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;  I would imagine illustrations will also reflect this change.

This poem has been around about 180 years, so why does it need “updating” now?  Is this political correctness run amok, or something else?  Yes, I know smoking is no longer as socially acceptable as it once was, but is that any reason to revise a poem that has reached icon status?  If so, how long will it be before any reference to tobacco is removed from history texts, despite the fact it played such a huge role in the settlement of North America?

If history as we know it is subject to revision at the whim of the god called political correctness, history texts may as well be published in loose leaf binder format because any page could be changed at any time.  All it would take would be one person objecting to the way something is portrayed!  And as we are aware, all it takes is one person to point out something they personally find politically incorrect and they will have no problem getting supporters for having that banned.

If you’re of a certain age, you may have studied Shakespeare in high school.  One of the plays I studied was “Merchant of Venice”.  It’s been fifty-odd years and I can still remember parts of Portia’s courtroom speech.  To my mind, that speech is still one of the better monologues in all of Shakespeare: “the quality of mercy is not strained …”  Today’s students can’t study that.  It isn’t politically correct and has been removed from classrooms as being anti-semitic.  Shakespeare was only reflecting the general view of Jews that existed at the time he wrote that play, yet because it doesn’t fit today’s modern view, students are being deprived the opportunity to study it.  History is the same.  Things happened, be they good or bad.  We can’t change them.  Even if we revise history, we still cannot change the past no matter how hard the political correctness police may want to.

Sorry, got carried away there.  As I was saying, changing “A Visit from St Nicholas” is just as bad, just as serious, as attempting to change history because you don’t like how something turned out.  Leave it alone.   I don’t know of any kids who, upon hearing those two lines, decided to go out and try smoking a pipe because Santa smoked one.  Most people don’t even remember those two lines are there.

That lady’s gonna get a lump of politically incorrect coal in her stocking this Christmas.