Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Multiculturalism Edition

As we continue to reel from the shock of last Friday’s bombing and mass murder in Norway that claimed 76 lives, new aftershocks to multiculturalism emerged from distant lands.

Glenn Beck put his dumb foot into his mouth again. As reported in Britain’s The Daily Telegraph, during his Monday radio show, Beck said, “'As the thing started to unfold and there was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like the Hitler Youth. Who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing.’”

The Daily Telegraph reported, “The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party comprised of teens and preteens that existed from 1922 to 1945.

“Torbjørn Eriksen, a former press secretary to Jens Stoltenberg, Norway's prime minister, called Beck's comments a ‘a new low’ for the broadcaster, who is known for his controversial, often offensive statements.

"'Young political activists have gathered at Utoya for over 60 years to learn about and be part of democracy, the very opposite of what the Hitler Youth was about,’" he told The Daily Telegraph. “‘Glenn Beck's comments are ignorant, incorrect and extremely hurtful.’"

Ah, the hypocrisy of those with a microphone and hours to fill the air with their venom. Beck’s 9/12 project, it turns out, runs a Tea Party political camp for children 8 to 12 years old...

Any attempt at multiculturalism, especially when it comes to possible romance, breeds dissent worthy of Romeo & Juliet.

In Israel, according to the newspaper Haaretz, rabbis in the Gush Etzion region south of Bethlehem in the West Bank objected to a possible liaison between a Jewish cashier and a Palestinian bagger at an Israeli-owned supermarket that purposely opened in an area where Jews and Palestinians could freely mingle (http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israeli-grocery-store-keeps-arab-baggers-and-jewish-cashiers-apart-1.375301).

It’s not clear from the article if there indeed was a love affair. Nor is it clear whether the bagger left his job voluntarily or was fired under pressure from the rabbis. But the grocer has agreed to keep Israeli cashiers and Palestinian baggers apart except when customer traffic is heavy. Moreover, if the quotes from a local rabbi of Alon Shvut are accurate, it’s not a good situation.

Rabbi Gideon Perl is reported to have said, “I was asked to talk to (owner) Rami Levi and his staff about the problem, and told them that one of the things we had feared when the store opened a year ago was exactly this...You need a whip to teach people a lesson after something like this happens.”

I shutter to think any 21st century rabbi could think in such terms...

Perhaps that rabbi and any like-minded soul should look to Jewish history for some multicultural encouragement.

In the same issue of Haaretz, an article on an archeological find in Tel Tzafit, near the Gaza Strip, revealed possible links between biblical Jews and their arch enemies, the Philistines (http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/3-000-year-old-altar-uncovered-at-philistine-site-suggests-cultural-links-to-jews-1.375305).

A Philistine stone altar from the 9th century BCE is similar in design to Jewish altars described in scriptures. They might have been bitter foes, but there clearly were cultural relations between the two peoples.

“Every group continues defining itself distinctly, but there’s intensive interaction. Think about Samson for a second,” said Prof. Aren Maeir of the Land of Israel and Archaeology studies at Bar-Ilan University, leader of the dig. “It doesn’t matter if the story is real or not. It’s true he kills them and they kill him, but on the other hand, he does marry a Philistine woman and takes part in their weddings.”

Summer’s Eve Follow-up: Seems I was onto something last Friday when I called out Summer’s Eve’s new advertising campaign for its feminine hygiene product. While it strove for a multicultural effect with three ads featuring white, Hispanic and Afro-American talking vaginas, the campaign elicited immediate reactions from Bill Maher on his Friday night show and Stephen Colbert on his Monday telecast.

Rotten Tomatoes: I like tomatoes. I like being able to get them year-round. But after listening to Barry Estabrook on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show today, it will be harder to swallow them next winter.

According to Estabrook, slave labor, yes slave labor, picks many of the Florida winter tomatoes we eat. Asked to explain what he meant by slave labor, Estabrook said according to court records undocumented workers from southern Mexico and Guatemala might be kept overnight in shackles, they are sold, they are beaten, they are paid subsistence wages and live in ramshackle huts with minimal sanitary facilities. For a full airing of the Estabrook interview, click here: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/2011/jul/26/tomatoland/. You’ll also find out why store-bought tomatoes don’t taste as good as they used to and are less nutritious.

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