Sunday, September 10, 2006

Double Standards

Oktoberfest is a two-week festival held each year in Munich, Germany during late September and early October. The event takes place during the 15 days before the first Sunday in October and usually ends on that Sunday, making the entire festival 16 days. The festival has traditionally ended on the first Sunday of October, but if this day is the 1st or 2nd, the festival will go on until the October 3rd (German Unity Day).

Never to waste an excuse to drink, Southern California kicked off an almost two-month long Oktoberfest last night. We went to the local German restaurant/beer hall for opening night to watch the more than 1,000 revelers drink themselves into stupidity.

It was quite a cross-section of society, from the short Asian guy wearing Lederhosen, to the gang-member-looking Mexicans to the 50-year-old German speakers. Beer steins filled to the brim, people danced around the beer hall, singing along to German songs. When the bunny line formed, the lead guy carried a German flag, followed by a guy with an American flag.

Watching the German pride-a-thon, I couldn't help but wonder if the same people waving the German flag are the same people who deemed it an outrage when Mexicans waved their flags at the immigrant rallies, no matter how many American flags were included. I hardly doubt that the nutcase hypocrites of the right-wing media will accuse the Germans and all who participate in Oktoberfest of not being "assimilated" because they retain their native tongue, wave their home country's flag and honor an occasion that was borne of a royal Bavarian wedding.

The double standard is amazing. Whites can insist they are Irish, display shamrocks with pride and celebrate St. Patrick's Day, Italians can have entire neighborhoods for themselves with flags of Italy everywhere and Germans can celebrate German monarchy, retain their language and wave their flags without a hint of comment from "America". But the minute a "brown" person dares to do the same thing, it is damning evidence of his failure to adopt American "values".

Where are my Lederhosen?


At 6:26 PM, September 10, 2006 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

There may be a double standard, but the issue is more complicated than a white or brown person waving a non-American flag. Celebrating your heritage is not offensive. An illegal immigrant asking the USA for equal protection, citizenship, and other rights afforded to legal residents while waving the flag of their home country is inflammatory to much of the nation.

At 7:12 PM, September 10, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

How do you know that the people who were waving Mexican flags were illegal? And how do you know that the Italians, Irish and Germans who wave their flags are not?

At 8:23 PM, September 10, 2006 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You haven't seen the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York, huh? Or maybe last weeks Brazilian thing. I mean, I'm not sure where pride ends and romantacizing ones heritage to the point of obscentiy begins, or what is an appropriate display of ones culture. I like the food. I hate when it fucks up traffic.

For whatever its worth - I'm fourth generation American, Italian & German heritage.

At 9:44 PM, September 10, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

In my view, racial and cultural pride are silly notions designed to ease the insecurities of unaccomplished people. The need to wave any flag or parade to throw your race in someone's face is the height of stupidity.

At 8:39 AM, September 11, 2006 , Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I guess lack of tribal affiliation makes us look for such things to make us feel - well tribal. We are tribal apes after all.

It's hard to feel that way about being an American since we all hate each other for various reasons. The only time we seem to express "American pride" these days is when our country is acting out something horrific and inexcusable.

As for me, I will skip the flags and the dance and I will just sit here in the corner with my beer, danke schön. Zum Prosit!

At 9:15 AM, September 11, 2006 , Blogger skip sievert said...

I would remind the Insurgent that there is no such thing as race from a scientific viewpoint. Just a point. Was not exactly sure what was meant by the commenting of throwing someones race in peoples face`s. I do not think she buys the concept of race.
Only one race, and that is the human one.
The idea of cultural pride is not exactly unappealing to me. It is rather obvious that we do not have a culture to be proud of. Ashamed of yes. It is a shame to live in this Alice in Wonderlands type of society. It is changeable.

At 9:45 AM, September 11, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...


I don't buy the notion of race. Ever since man figured out how to get on a boat, the idea of racial purity went out the window.

Culture is not very different. It is a mythical, pliable construct that is worshipped blindly, much in the same way religion is. While I agree that American culture has its flaws, so does every other culture on the planet. It is the paradox of humanity - the need for order vs. the destructive nature of rigid rules.

At 10:28 AM, September 11, 2006 , Blogger Chris said...

I dunno. I don't have any problem with people being proud of their culture. It's part of what makes us diverse... But more importantly, being aware of one's culture and background is an educational experience, and any knowledge is good. I know, for instance, that I was completely ignorant (that's pronounced "ignert" around here) of the fact that Hitler killed a bunch of Gypsies as well as the Jews until I started researching my Germanic heritage.

I also learned that me grandpappy came to America in a wave of Germanic people in the early 20th century. They settled in the Midwest, mostly. My church's charter is written in German. It took a few generations for English language and culture to take hold in the immigrant families - my father grew up speaking German, and Lawrence Welk (a native of Nort Dakota) learned English in his twenties.

We all came here from somewhere. The U.S. population at large looked down on each wave of immigrants - the Irish were persecute, as were the Chinese and the Germans. The trick to "assimilating" nicely into American society seems to be speaking English, watching football, and blending in as best you can do. Unfortunately, a large chunk of the Hispanic population in the U.S. hasn't gotten around to learning English yet...

At 12:39 PM, September 11, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

Double Standard? Absolutely. America is full of double standards, look at our Tax system.

The extent of my tribal pride relates to College. I am a UC Bezerkley graduate, and I wear CAL Bear Wear a lot, and I will continue to do so with pride.

Oktoberfest. Don't knock it. I've been lucky enough to attend in Munich 3 times over the last 15 years. Nothing wrong with drinking excessive amounts of beer with people from all over the world, and singing German drinking songs. Even if the good will is heavily alcohol induced, it's all good.

I went to a local Oktoberfest in Stuttgart in 2000. It's called Volksfest. Best damn party I've ever been to. Great band, too many Beers and shot's of Schnapps to count. Danced on the top of the table (everyone did) for hours. Got back to my hotel after 1AM, and was back at work at 8AM the next morning. My boss wandered in after 10AM (weenie).

At 3:02 PM, September 11, 2006 , Blogger skip sievert said...

A good culture may be one that is practical, humanitarian, provides maximum freedom, has the means to provide the essentials and more for everyone, values its members, encourages maximum creativity, is open minded, and knows how to have fun occasionally. On most of those points America fails. All changeable though.
We don`t really have an educational system. More a system to keep people under the spell of our system. That will be a problem shortly. 70% of our population works in the service sector. Of that group most could be replaced by robots over night almost. Capitalism is a system based on maintaining scarcity with its distribution system. That way false value of goods , in money equivalents is determined.
All the wage slaves will be out of a job shortly as things become more and more automated. In the great depression 20% of people lost their jobs initially. During the next meltdown the % will be considerably higher.
The machine long ago replaced the human in the work dept. In order to preserve our so called capitalist system it will have to be turned into an even more bazaar slave state, and that probably can not work either.
Do you see the writing on the wall.?
As we try and preserve this system of false culture, and false value, we destroy ourselves.

At 3:11 PM, September 11, 2006 , Blogger skip sievert said...

Ironically Capitalism may have to resort to replacing robots with people to keep the wage slave system going. That does not make sense, but could happen. Then things get even bleaker. The machine age was meant to be the end of Communism which is a kind of distribution system , and Capitalism , which is a kind of maintenance of scarcity system.
We have not gotten that message yet.
There are other more enlightened systems which offer hope.

At 4:09 PM, September 11, 2006 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

The difference between the Puerto Rican Day Parade, the German flag and the Mexican flag is that the PR and the Germs are not "agitating for new rights." The Mexicans are coming across the border illegally and are now pressuring the government for rights. That pisses people off. (I don't know where I stand.)

"In my view, racial and cultural pride are silly notions designed to ease the insecurities of unaccomplished people."

Wow. I'm gonna have to chew on that one for a while to see if I agree or disagree.

At 6:21 PM, September 11, 2006 , Blogger squawpeak said...

BOB, nice comments. The pressuring for rights for illegals does seem to be a distinct, significant difference from Oktoberfest revelers.

As to the cultural pride thing, everything in moderation. There are strong suits to each culture - e.g. Americans tend toward self-reliance and entreprenuership. Mexicans tend to have warm, strong familial bonds, the Germans have a cultural knack for order.

Why not be proud of positive attributes? Where is the harm as long as it is in moderation?

At 8:27 PM, September 11, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Nothing wrong with cultural festivities. My problem is with people who revere culture as if it is religion.

As far as having pride in the positive attributes of a culture, I find it infantile to profess pride in something that a) exists utterly independent of you and b) that you played no part in creating.

I'm going to have to post on this one.

At 7:53 AM, September 12, 2006 , Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

In the 1980's it was politically dangerous to say there were any differences between males and females. It became impossible to do real science concerning the obvious differences or to research the differences between biological and social imperatives. It was another Orwellian attempt to change reality by restructuring language.

Likewise, the notion that there is "no scientific basis for race" is more popular with amateur socialogists and university administrators and other crusaders than with geneticists and hinges on a carefully defined and somewhat fallacious definition of what a race is and what science is. The origin of the popular mantra is that there is no scientific basis for racism and that is a very, very different thing. Just ask a geneticist what difficulties that bass-ackwards idea has made for researchers.

"Scientific" or not, all the differences we see are as genetic as the similarities. Dumping the word race and substituting newspeak euphamy is an attempt to deal with racism and not the result of scientific conclusion. It doesn't work anyway because there is no scientific basis for racism.

Gene pools do exist in varying degrees of overlap and when isolated long enough, gene pools vary increasingly with time. That's hard science. It's one of the cornerstones of evolution.

When you define race as "population" as is the practice these days, you find that important differences in populations exist along with unimportant ones, such as hair color, yet different populations are genetically different enough that some medicines for instance work differently. I take a blood pressure medication that for genetic reasons, does not work on people of sub-saharan African extraction and says so in the packaging. My black cardiologist cannot use it on his black patients because of racial differences, but has to couch it in other terms because of social pressure and the manufacturer had to choose words carefully to avoid the wrath of the language police by mentioning race. It's ridiculous.

My Chinese wife cannot drink alcohol because of a genetic condition that affects people of a race we are no longer allowed even to identify as a race lest we be called racists. Ridiculous.

Different populations are subject to different genetic diseases. I don't have to warry about sickle cell anemia, but I may have less immunity to malaria than some other population might. The lines between populatons from geographic areas are blurry, but they do exist and are proven to exist. It's annoying that doctors have a hard time discussing these things from a medical standpoint for political reasons.

Can't we establish that regardless of what subset of the universal human gene pool you come from you have the same worth, the same rights and the same humanity without resorting to that "no scientific basis for race" blindfold?

It's medically unsound and culturally sad since the beauty and strength of the human race is in it's variation. Just ask a geneticist. do we have to pretend that we are all clones when we are so wonderfully and necessarily not?

At 8:43 AM, September 12, 2006 , Blogger skip sievert said...

I will stick with my statement that there is no scientific basis for the concept of race.
We are all of the human race.
I seriously doubt whether any actual scientist would argue that point. I assume you are not a scientist, and this is more of a poetic or emotional issue for you.

No doubt there is variance in the gene pool, because of diet, and environment , and the intermingling of different aspects of that.

Interestingly, Crows are one of the most successful birds on the earth.
There are crows on all parts of the earth.
There are crows in the arctic , and in the tropics. I like crows. They are one of my favorite birds. Very smart, they are , real survivors.
All these crows in various places regardless of where they are and some minor color markings and size differences , are still considered crows.

It has been scientifically proven through D.N.A. that we are all of the same group, or race if that term is usable. Again this is Homo Sapien , or modern man.

At 10:24 AM, September 12, 2006 , Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

So there is no science of population genetics? Very funny Skip. Haplotypes, schmaplotypes, let's forget it all and listen to old Skip.

Perhaps you know more about emotional arguments than you know about population genetics, statistics, molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics, because you are confusing race and species in your flights of fancy with the crows. Your sense of superiority and exeptionalism would be less annoying if you had something more than equivocation voodoo economics and weak word games to back up your sad rebuttal.

When you use the word race as a synonym for species, you're playing emotional games, to put it kindly, because that's not how I used it.

Race, as I used it and as I explained it, has to do with genetic variations in isolated or formerly isloated and identifiable populations. This is science and not emotion and has nothing to do with value judgments concerning various populations. You are using the word "race" in a different and political way and you know it.

If you maintain that the human genome is unvaried between populations, you are wrong. If I were using "race" to mean something immutable and with rigid boundaries, I would be wrong, but I wasn't.

If we must use animal analogies - and we don't need to - Dobermans and dachshunds are of the same species as are all men and women, but their genomes can be grouped into subsets of a larger set called species and larger sets too, of course. If you haven't noticed, they breed true and are readily identifiable as different even though they can interbreed and therefore are of the same species.

If you maintain is that a wolf and a shi-tzu are of the same species and so there is no difference between the two, you might as well say there is no such thing as a fox or hyena or Jackal as well and call them all Canidae. You're just playing games.

I will say it one more time: the large set of genomes that we call the human race or the human gene pool, has subsets that have resulted from geographic isolation and genetic drift even if some subsequent mixing has occured and those subsets are identifiable on the genetic level by virtue of gene frequencies as well as being often apparent to differing degrees.

Like it or not it's a large and established family of disciplines that disagrees with your facile homily. Again, go talk to a geneticist - read Nature,The American Journal of Human Genetics, buy a book, read something other than your own opinions. Being interested in prehistoric migrations, I'm reading a paper“Polarity and Temporality of High Resolution Y-chromosome Distributions in India Identify Both Indigenous and Exogenous Expansions and Reveal Minor Genetic Influence of Central Asian Pastoralists”

Pehaps you would enjoy it too.

Try How Humans Evolved W.W. Norton. It gives good account of the flexibility of popular and political racial conceptions and how this is not what I'm talking about.

At 11:36 AM, September 12, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

Wow. It seems we spend more time coming up with sometimes arbitrary reasons to divide ourselves instead of uniting ourselves. Safety in numbers? Proving or presuming we are better than others because of our affiliations? You bet. You're either with us or against us.

There has to be a good post out there on our obsessive need to belong, to be accepted.

Each of our Blogs has it's own following. Some groups think they have all the answers, and as such do not need input from "other tribes". Others among us realize we don't have all the answers and as such we have a thirst for other perspectives and viewpoints.

At 1:13 PM, September 12, 2006 , Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I hate racism with a passion, I agree with I.I. that tribalism is uncouth, but I just don't subscribe to interfering with science and medicine and language and a lot of other things because some people have misused their ideosyncratic ideas about race.

There's a difference between not wanting to look at something and insisting that there is no such thing as light.

At 5:03 PM, September 12, 2006 , Blogger skip sievert said...

Mmm. Don`t know what to tell you exactly Fogg.
Did you get out of bed on the wrong side this year.?

I guess I will be blunt, and say that you seem a quarrelsome person to me.

Human species, Human race, What the hell difference does it make.?

I have been accused by some of being ill humored at times.
If that happens again I am going to refer those people to your post here.
I should be off the hook then. I might even be considered half way personable.
As a fellow member of the human race I wish you to live long and prosper.

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