By CATHY HERBISON KNOOP
Don Neeper’s statement (link) that the politics of COVID-19 are complex, divisive, and dangerous is the clearest s argument against politicization of an issue that I’ve heard in this debate.
Don identifies the complexities of this issue by asserting that the systemic problems which arise because of complexity are differences in our national sub-cultures.
He stated various truths. We have differences in grammar. I would add language usage to that. For example, recently my grandson was very excited about his 1951 Chevy pick-up that he’s started to repair. He got the darn thing running! “Sick!” He exclaimed with all the fervor of John Denver saying, “Faaaar out!” Guess what? It means great! Fabulous! Wonder of wonders, etc.! So being sick literally is now a blessing!
Let’s move on to Don’s second category of sub-cultural differences: different rules. Hmmm. In some churches everyone is ‘expected’ to partake in the Communion Service. When I attended (before Covid), I always took Communion with my husband. Contrariwise, my Baptist husband is precluded from taking Communion at a Catholic Mass. Why? Different Rules. Right?
Don’s last category is differences in behavioral expectations. Certain behavioral expectations are clear to us when shopping at a mall. You must not race through the mall screaming. Why not? This behavior is totally against the expectations for people in malls because everyone will run and trample each other, pull their concealed or open carry and shoot people who are innocent, or—worse yet—people might fall dead from heart attacks brought on by terror. (Now, if there is an active shooter in the mall, screaming may be justified.)
Now here’s my problem with Don’s assumptions. I hope he will explain them in another post in the Post. He says that because of these differences, there are great disparities of opportunity, income, and social justice. My question is this: Are the differences the causes of the disparities, or are there other issues causing the disparities?
In the musical, My Fair Lady, Eliza Dolit’le is told that her non-elite grammar and pronunciation ‘absolutely’ classifies her. Her teacher of elocution then begins the process of changing—yes changing—her dialect. She cooperates fully, except at Ascot, where she is desperately trying to be ‘one of them’ in her glorious garb and chapeau! She loses it when her horse is behind and she hollers—very unbecomingly: “Move yer bloomin’ arse!” She has destroyed her credibility.
We’ll leave our analogy there. Is it possible to ‘train’ all the individuals in subcultures in the ways of the current majority culture? Hell no! The people in various subcultures demand that they be allowed—even encouraged—to maintain their own ways—dialect, accent, dress, music, art, etc. They do not like you, Sam I am! They want a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T! RESPECT! Just a little bit!
They want their cultural ways to be esteemed! Even treasured, as they treasure them. I could really get into a myriad of examples of sub-cultural differences from our youth, such as, say, saggy pants, shaved heads on one side only, red hair, of course the music, the colorful tattoos, etc., etc., etc. I show my age by bringing these up. There’s far more to this, but the paper wouldn’t give me that much space, would it?
I’ve always said that Caucasians in the US really have no culture. But no. They have culturally elite folk who love their so-called fine art, music, dance, poetry, theater, literature. But what do they really love? Down deep? The art, music, dance, language, etc. of all the so-called sub-cultures. The pottery, figurines, celebrations, music and dance, etc. The real problem is that those who fancy themselves members of this currently majority group are consumed with dark jealousy. They wish they had all that culture, talent, and substance! Ha!
So Don, I ask you: Is the problem of differences causing the disparities? I think the disparities are caused by the dominant culture in society in the US. There are powerful forces at work which are consciously designed to keep others downtrodden. The differences are only the signals that give clues to who people are. Suddenly, these folk find themselves unable to vote, discouraged from buying homes in certain areas, unable to gain entrance to clubs, unable to get their voices heard, unable to earn income comparable to others with the same skills & education, and another one, fear of being treated unequally by law enforcement, teachers, bosses, etc.
In the USA, people are treated unequally in areas of opportunities, income and social justice. Others do these things to them. They don’t stand up and ask for unequal treatment because of their different sub-cultures. In fact, they ask for and expect equal treatment. Those in power must agree to this demand as a moral imperative. Mother Theresa has said, “People are poor because others don’t share.” Pretty simple explanation, but seemingly impossible to change.