Thursday, February 09, 2006

Just like an enema . . .

Jeebus, Katie really uncorked one today. It must have felt really, really good. In a column entitled West must mull cost of standing up for freedom, Katie tries to find a connection among 1) a right wing newspaper in Denmark that baited Muslims everywhere with a series of inflammatory cartoons, 2) 9/11, and 3) the dismissal of School Marm Superior Cheri Pierson-Yecke.

The thread, Katie tells us, is cultural relativism! Whodda guessed?

According to Katie, the West had better own up to its superiority in “important ways,” or apparently, the Muslims will come and kill us all. Western superiority? That sound suspiciously like Kipling’s
The White Man’s Burden, the opening stanza of which reads:
Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.
Of course, a lot of the current troubles in the Middle East can be traced to the helpfulness of the West – especially Britain – after the First World War. And Katie thinks we’ll improve things now with more cultural imperialism. Throw more gasoline on that fire! It might go out!

As Juan Cole puts it in a recent Salon article:
Muslim touchiness about Western insults to the prophet Mohammed must be understood in historical context. Most Muslim societies have spent the past two centuries either under European rule or heavy European influence, and most colonial masters and their helpmeets among the missionaries were not shy about letting local people know exactly how barbaric they thought the Muslim faith was. The colonized still smart from the notorious signs outside European clubs in the colonial era, such as the one in Calcutta that said, "Dogs and Indians not allowed."
As Katie says, the Danish newspaper that published the cartoons did so as a “test.” In other words, it was trying to see if it could provoke a reaction. Well, it did. People all over the political spectrum are now trying to tell us what the reaction means, and that certainly includes Katie. Isn’t it funny how the right wing seems most concerned about the reaction in Iran and Syria, where the US is already spoiling for a fight?

If we were to total up as of today, the West has killed a helluva lot more Muslims than the reverse, “the horror of 9/11” notwithstanding. We’re told that everything changed on 9/11, whereas in fact nothing did. We seem not a single step closer to solving the problem, and we have probably in fact retreated from a solution; Katie just wants to make it worse. Spot cannot figure out for the life of him why. Is it projection of her basest instincts on to others, as Sigmund Spot might say? Or maybe just ignorant cultural chauvinism?

In any case, it is way too damn dangerous to visit on an entire generation of school kids. Which brings us back to Cheri Pierson-Yecke.

Pierson-Yecke isn’t merely "too patriotic" to have survived in her job as Katie suggests; she is nationalistic and probably even nativist. She is also a creationist and anti-science, not a good thing in the state’s top educator. Our gain is Florida’s loss.

UPDATE: Be sure to check out Charles Quimby's comment to this post. Charles does a much better job than Spot of explaining the role of Pierson-Yecke and the Profiles of Learning in Kersten's remarks.

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