The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing

A Short Break

I will be taking a short break from blogging. I have a bunch of friends and family visiting over the next two weeks and will not have the time to spend researching and posting here. I will, however, read any comments and take part in any discussions should they arise.

Instead of just leaving a blank space during this time, I’m offering this post as a space to chat, ask questions and discuss anything you feel like. As always, I ask you to be polite and respectful to each other. I also want to encourage everyone to think of something positive to share. I know we have been rather stuck on a few issues here and the nature of this blog means that much of the news is rather bleak but perhaps we can take a break from that for a while.

I’ll kick off with this:

I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this blogging community over the last five years. It’s been a bumpy ride at times but life is like that isn’t it ? I have made some amazing friends here and I appreciate every single one of them. Without the people who come here and read and leave comments, this blog would be pointless. I hope that, in some small way, my contribution to the internet has brought some people together and encouraged discussion on some difficult issues. I am thankful for the diverse, interesting, intelligent and creative people I have met along the way. Long may it continue.

Feel free to share….

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8 Comments

  1. gurmit
    April 12, 2010    

    Hello Cinzano,

    How are you doing?

    I sometimes visit this Victorian London directory to be found at
    http://www.victorianlondon.org/

    If you go to it, click on populations, then on immigrants you will see various nationalities and races mentioned. The only Mediterraneans mentioned are the Italians (I checked Greeks but apparently there were not that many Greeks living in Victorian London even though the history of Greek and British ties is very, very old, not that that there were that many Italians either but comparatively). There are a few entries on the Italians. I’m really curious about how you would compare the stereotypes in these Victorian writings to stereotypes you see in British society today. My guess is that not much has changed and the stereotypes are probably all there today too but there are many more people who do have open minds are are willing to see things differently. Or of course various groups would be getting expelled, etc.

    Interestingly, in books and television programs created by British about the Roman Empire which ruled over Britian even though they were Mediterraneans too, I never see anything but respect or even awe. I find there is a lot of awe like that among some people of Indian origins, probably because the British ruled over them. And of course some minorities do because they were treated better when the British were there than they are now.

    Conversely, there are stereotypes about British people too, even in Canada where the majority of people have British origins. Some people, like my friend Ellen back in BC, argue that stereotypes have some basis in reality. Perhaps some are, but I know some are utterly false. People sometimes just make things up and pass them around very efficiently. For instance, I have been asked by several people in different parts of British Columbia if Punjabi people’s religion does not allow them to keep dogs, even a doctoral student. It is true that most Punjabi immigrants did keep dogs for a long time in Canada but it was because most of them had come from farms, often with several dogs, and felt it was cruel to keep dogs in these small yards. Nothing to do with the religion or anything. Sometimes, Cinzano, I feel so privileged growing up as a minority person because I see the stereotypes on both sides and realize how stupid everyone is, one side just as much as the other. I just get amazed sometimes at comments like,”Do Indian people get grey hair too when they age (like are you blind, just take a look at the old Indians) or “White people care about their kids and grandkids too?” And there is way worse stuff that isn’t even worth repeating it is so sick.)

    Yeia Sas

  2. gurmit
    April 12, 2010    

    Oops sorry, I meant they didn’t keep dog for a long time in the last paragraph. Wierd how one leaves out stuff sometimes.

  3. Cinzano
    April 12, 2010    

    Gurmit,

    I’ve lived in three countries in Europe (UK, Italy, Portugal) and travelled to many many others around the world.
    In my experience, my country of birth (the UK) is the most xenophobic and racist country in the world. You may be forgiven for thinking that the majority of us Brits are tolerant, tea-drinking “culturally sophisticated” people, but these stereotypes are very far from the truth..

    The overwhelming majority of us hate immigrants (in any form, even legal immigrants), we dislike foreigners (including Irish), we are the biggest “closet” racists (i.e. we may have laws that prohibit discrimination but these don’t work in the real world because our culture is inherently xenophobic and intolerant of people of colour e.g. Googgle: “Macpherson Report”).

    All our major insitutions are racist. The Army, Police Force, Church, Schools and Universities have been proved to be institutionally racist.

    Behind the veneer of a sophisticated and multi-cultural British society, there lies a historic and deep-rooted problem of racism and xenophobia. It’s so bad that immigrants and children of immigrants cannot live among the white Anglo-Saxon communities of Britain. Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Jews etc have gradually built up their own communities away from whites in all corners of London and other cities because they have been the object of the most virulent and violent anti-semitism and racism they have ever experienced.

    I’ve travelled to Greece and Spain and i’ve lived in Italy and Portugal. The people of southern Europe are generally the most hospitable and friendly people i’ve ever come across.

    That’s why i feel deep offence whenever i read blogs such as this which reinforce erroneous stereotypes and portray the southern European people as lazy, corrupt, xenophobic and homophobic people. (Especially if you read some of the past posts where racists were tolerated as long as the racism was directed towards Greeks).

  4. gurmit
    April 12, 2010    

    Cinzano,

    I can agree with you that there is a lot racism in Britain, including institutionalized racism, but I am telling you that a lot of people of colour, and others like a Jewish friend I had, feel hated here in Canada too. I invite you to read the results of a study published in April 2009 for you to get a picture of how the tolerance and multiculturalism model here just works in theory too. People like me sometimes think we can get away without being targets of racist thought by ordinary people due to interacting with others but the reality is still out there. Our institutions are infected with it too though the school boards and teachers’ unions genuinely seem to try to fight it and other injustices too. Of course, there are individual teachers who don’t but then there are even individuals who are pedophiles who molest their students.

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/04/28/what-canadians-think-of-sikhs-jews-christians-muslims/

    Here too,Cinzano, there are “ghettos” in large cities with people of different ethnicities characterizing different areas through their residences. Of course, some people do move into other areas too. Those days where the entire neighbourhood would petition and protest, sometimes violently, are gone. However, if too many of one kind come into a neighbourhood, the others can very well sell their houses and move. I remember when I six we moved a couple of streets away into a new home my parents had gotten built. Its windows were egged When a police man came he said something like, “It is your own fault for moving into this area.” My dad yelled at him so much (my dad used to be chased by the police on horseback through fields of wheat back in India because he started these student riots over a professor who slapped and humiliated a student who was low caste. My dad was student rep. and made the prof apologize to the guy in public, but the university didn’t like it and started retaliating against the students. I don’t think this poor cop knew what kind of person he would be dealing with when he said that).

    Not too long ago, my brother read some materials in his law program which suggested that multiculturalism was adopted by western countries (not Canada, in Canada I think it was adopted because of the English/French Canadian duality) so immigrants would not give up their customs and culture and then be able to go back where they came from. That they are staying is problematic for these places.

    The world is messed up big time with all its wars, causing so many people to seek asylum; corruption and overpopulation in many countries, causing people to seep economic asylum; and the inability of human groups to tolerate others, and it really doesn’t matter whom we speak of. It used to really depress me but now I just don’t care for one day none of this is going to matter as we are hit with the effects of global warming or another ice age. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t think it is my responsibility as a person to try to make things better how I can, but I just don’t get super depressed over it.

    As far as all this racism and stuff goes, I find Europe to be a much scarier place be it England, France, or any other place. Maybe I am dead wrong but I think Europe has always been a dangerous place where wars can start very quickly. Its history has just been relatively peaceful since recent times, and maybe I am dead wrong, please correct me (anyone), but my gut tells me America has something to do with that too for it rebuilt Europe after the war and couldn’t afford to have its allies fighting each other because of regimes it has viewed as enemies.

    Anyway, Cinzano, what can people like you or me do further to try to make the world a better place in spite of the racism and all the other garbage? In some ways I think it is better than it used to be in previous centuries. Would we from so many different backgrounds be having good conversations together?

    Yeia sas

  5. Cinzano
    April 12, 2010    

    what can people like you or me do further to try to make the world a better place in spite of the racism and all the other garbage?

    We can fight against racism by confronting it and rooting it out whenever and wherever we come across it. We can start by rooting out racists from blogs such as this when we happen to read it.

    If we’re bloggers, we should also be very careful in our portrayal of different nationalities, ensuring that we are not enforcing negative steretypes of southern Europeans such as “Greeks are corrupt”, “Italians are homophobic”, “Spaniards are lazy”, “Portuguese are uncouth” etc . It’s important that blogs such as this maintain a level of balance when posting article after article of negative news about a country which, when taken in isolation, these articles have a danger of portraying a nation and it’s people in the negative light described above.

    “The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing.”

    There was alot of “doing nothing” in this blog when racists were allowed to spout their filth against southern European people – that’s a crime considering this is a “human rights” blog. What about the human rights of a whole nation not to be slandered and abused by being called “corrupt” and “homophobic” and it’s religion humilated and insulted as was happening on a regular basis, without even a warning to the abusers?

    I’ll say it again: if the abusive comments made about Greeks in this blog were made against blacks or Roma, then the perpetrators would’ve been banned because the language is simply not acceptable. The fact that this abusive language was allowed against Greeks for so long in this blog, suggests that we all need to think harder about confronting and rooting out racism, especially human rights bloggers who irresponsibly post article after article portraying a nation as being racist or xenophobic towards Roma or blacks when the reality isn’t so black and white.

  6. gurmit
    April 12, 2010    

    Cinzano,

    You are a voice for a very legitimate concern be it for this blog or anywhere else. I think sometimes no matter how well meaning people can be, they still can look at other peoples through their cultural spectacles, and of course some don’t even care to do otherwise.

    I have seen non-Greek western people on the internet in a lot of places making remarks about Greek people that they try to make legitimate by saying many others agree with them or that they are personal experiences. I sometimes don’t know what to make of this stuff for some stuff is obviously false stereotype and some stuff you think maybe has been true for them. It only takes a few bad experiences in some aspect for people to start believing something is true about some other group and even for the most open minded, the only difference is their number may be much higher not that they won’t ever believe it.

    You want to hear the craziest thing that gets me all mad and arguing and throwing my hands against my face sometimes? Because Sikhs have no homeland of their own but are slaves within India and have been brainwashed by Brahmins for centuries, many have adopted mainstream India’s hatred of womankind even though their own ideology is dead against it. Anyway I see stuff all the time. One thing that has cropped up in Canada recently (though it is an ancient Brahmin myth thousands of years old, though I am sure sane Brahmins probably don’t believe it anymore), probably due to newcomers coming from India all the time, is this belief that the moon somehow controls the sex of the human fetus. If you conceive in the first fifteen days of the phase you get one kind of child (can’t remember which is which) and the latter the other kind. Every old woman now thinks she is an expert in this and tries to coax her daughter when to conceive, whether a girl is wanted or a boy (usually it is a boy, trust me). I’ve had so many fights over this, including at this store where the woman whose store it was was asking some old woman about it because she wanted a boy after her two daughters? They can’t get it through their thick skulls that if that were the case there wouldn’t be both sexes born at all times. I even try using the example of alligator or crocodile sex being determined by temperature and only one kind of sex resulting from a batch of eggs because of it, but to no effect. They don’t want to get it is my conclusion because some of them aren’t that stupid that they wouldn’t get it. If people can believe these kinds of lunacies (and yeah I guess lunacies is right since it is related to the moon), how can they see past things like stereotypes? For this bunch I don’t have much hope.People with blogs are undoubtedly more intelligent or they would only post according to the moon’s phases or something.

    Anyway I look forward to being in Greece some day. I seem to have this belief that I will mainly have positive experiences for my attitude to Greeks is quite positive and they will sense that. One thing I remember about my short little trip to Greece still from my teens is this guy who was selling oranges. I had a classmate who bought an orange from him and she tried to get him to reduce his price. It got quite ugly with her feeling yelling and screaming and being bossy could just get him to do it. To his credit the guy refused. I was right after her in the line. My attitude was to give the guy what he wanted for I kind of felt sorry for him. you probably aren’t loaded having this little stall selling oranges in a small town and might have children to feed and it wasn’t a high price to begin with. Well the guy smiled and gave me an extra orange for free and wouldn’t hear of me paying for it. She had taken off by then but heard the story on the tour bus when I gave the extra orange to a teacher and said the guy the just gave it to me. She was so annoyed and kept asking why he wouldn’t even reduce the price for her let alone give her free stuff. I know this is just a small, petty little example but I do think attitude can have a lot to do with how people respond back be they Greek or anyone else.

    Anyway, yeia sas

  7. gurmit
    April 13, 2010    

    P.S. Please know that my mentioning blog owners at the end of paragraph 3 I do not mean DD. I go to lots of other blogs and u-tube and DD apologized for mistakes in the past and we need to take it from there.

  8. gurmit
    April 13, 2010    

    Oops, I shouldn’t have said every old woman in paragraph three for that isn’t true. Some would be dead against it though I see many who do believe it. Am I starting more stereotypes or just sharing something I have come across and which makes me quite annoyed against people of my own ethnicity with an alien belief system?

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