Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dangers of MI and Stereotyping.

There are many ignorant people out there both in your country and abroad. After 9/11, a Sikh was killed at his gas station somewhere in the South Eastern US. He had a beard and was wearing a turban. Close enough to Bin Ladin. Never mind the Sikhs are not Muslims.
The man is now dead as a door nail. End of the story.

When the US attacked Iraq, certain extremists in Saudi Arabia started targeting Americans. So, a few years ago, an Irishman and a German were killed in Riyadh. They were not Americans, but they were close enough to being American to get killed.

When I was in a certain SE Asian country, I was dating a lady whose neighbors were avid TV watchers. And there was a program on TV in which a foreigner (a white one; what other foreigners are there, anyway?) had been arrested for practicing “white slavery”. Actually, it should have been “brown” or “yellow” slavery since no victims were white. In other words, he owned a bar there with bar girls dancing on stage. Some bar girl complained and he was arrested and then either deported or released after paying some bribes.

I was immediately a suspect since I looked like him. To them, that is. We all look alike, anyway. The lady’s neighbors young son came in rushing and screaming that he had seen me on TV being arrested. The lady was cursed, threatened and told to stay away from both me and the daughter of the neighbors (who was her friend) or she “would pay for it”. A relative was there with a gun, too, and he said he would not hesitate to use it. On me, that is.

You may be traveling in a distant land or living there and then there could be news on TV and someone bad who belongs to your “ larger group”- white people, Muslims, black people, etc. would be shown. You can then be threatened, attacked or even killed. And verbal abuse will become commonplace.

Be careful and be aware of how the locals see you and what category the common person there will put you in. Are you now a Gringo? In Guatemala, there were rumors of Americans kidnapping kids for body parts and Americans and anyone who looked “Gringo” was under threat of retaliation. That would mean a Canadian, too.

The farther away you travel culturally and geographically, the broader the classification you are assigned to, and if some representatives of that qualification do or say something bad, you will be in danger of ostracism, abuse and even violent physical action.

Are you now a “farang” in SE Asia? You can be abused verbally when there is news of some person who is a farang like you, and who has been found to have the HIV when he applied for work somewhere. You will now be shunned because of such news on TV.

Also, in countries where people are simple and kind and are of the charming peasant variety that so fascinates Westerners for its warmth and hospitality, there is also an ever present danger of such people displaying horrendous ignorance, stereotyping and generalizations that can lead to your injury and death by virtue of mistaken identity or inclusion in some hostile tribe that you had never had anything to do with. Populaces around the world can turn from friendly to unpredictable. US humans have changed little since tribal African times. Please watch yourself!

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