MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2023
Also, children born today: Increasingly, identity has come to rule the discourse of a rapidly shrinking world.
We aren't saying that issues related to "identity" shouldn't rule the discourse. We would seek to initiate a different type of discussion:
We humans have a strong capacity for anger. That includes anger which is perfectly justifiable.
But when people discuss identity issues, what kinds of reactions are likely to be helpful? By way of contrast, which kinds of reactions are simply unhelpful anger—are anger all the way down?
Conflicts based on cultural identity are found all over the globe. Given the way human anger works, we're guessing that the attempt to address such issues won't always be thoroughly helpful.
For starters, what do we mean when we say that identity has come to rule a rapidly shrinking world? For one example out of many, we point you to an interesting profile in Saturday's New York Times.
It was listed as THE SATURDAY PROFILE. The headlines on the profile say this:
Teenage Rapper, Rooted in Mapuche Identity, Roars for Indigenous Rights
MC Millaray, 16, an emerging music star in Chile, uses her fierce lyrics to convey five centuries of struggles by the country’s largest Indigenous group against European colonizers.
We'll take a guess. We'll guess that most people who read that profile had never heard of the Mapuche.
That said, the Mapuche are indeed Chile's largest Indigenous group. The leading authority on the topic offers this brief overview at the start of a lengthy discussion:
As an archaeological culture, the Mapuche people of southern Chile and Argentina have a long history which dates back to 600–500 BC. The Mapuche society underwent great transformations after Spanish contact in the mid–16th century.
The Mapuche have been involved in identity-based conflicts dating back to Spanish colonization. Saturday's profile involved a 16-year-old girl who is focused on current struggles in her native Chile.
The Mapuche are a cultural group with a very long history. For better or worse, Chile's non-Mapuche population is a much more numerous group.
In Chile, those groups are currently engaged in a struggle. Meanwhile, in that same day's New York Times, a second news report offered this:
‘We Have to Come Here to Be Seen’: Protesters Descend on Lima
They marched through the streets of Peru’s capital, carrying signs that said “I’m not a terrorist” and waved rainbow-colored flags associated with Indigenous communities in the Andes. Many chant “murderer” at the country’s leader and sing hymns about not being afraid anymore. On Thursday, more continued to arrive, with many vowing to stay for the long fight.
In the past week, thousands of rural Peruvians have descended on Lima to join local protests calling on President Dina Boluarte to resign...
Since Ms. Boluarte took office on Dec. 7, violent protests against her government have paralyzed large swaths of southern Peru, shutting down copper and tin mines and choking off highways leading to Lima and towns in the Amazon.
There have been at least 57 deaths related to the unrest, all outside of Lima.
The protests have been led largely by Indigenous, rural and poorer Peruvians fed up with what they portray as the country’s dysfunctional political system and entrenched discrimination.
These events in Peru also involve long-standing conflict between different ethnic / cultural groups.
Population groups are involved in conflict all around the globe.
Most American haf never heard of the Kurds until that group became part of the ongoing war in Iraq. Almost surely, most Americans still have never heard of the Uighurs—wouldn't recognize the name, wouldn't have any idea who the Uighurs are.
As of the early 1990s, few Americans had ever heard of the Tutsis and the Hutus. Global history teems with disputes, conflicts, wars and genocides involving such historically distinct ethnic / cultural groups.
Identity groups are in conflict all around the world. Increased communication and ease of travel in a rapidly shrinking world serve to bring the world's many different identity groups into increasing contact with each other.
In this nation, we largely focus on the cultural divisions between the population groups defined as black and white. (Our own indigenous groups receive much less attention.) The vicious killing of Tyre Nichols in Memphis has now become the (temporary) focus of that ongoing discourse.
Alas! We humans routinely have a hard time negotiating points of conflict between different "identity groups." That 16-year-old rapper in Chile gave voice to a great deal of (justifiable) anger in last Saturday's profile—but we pause this week to ask a basic question:
What kinds of behavior are likely to be helpful in such familiar discussions? By way of contrast, what kinds of reactions may give voice to (fully justifiable) anger, but may only make matters worse?
There's no sure way to answer such questions! But in this morning's New York Times, Charles Blow starts his latest column like this:
Tyre Nichols’s Death Is America’s Shame
The spectacle of a televised countdown to the showing of the video in which Tyre Nichols was savagely beaten by Memphis police officers doesn’t just theatricalize Black death; it is a damning indictment of American perversion.
It was horrific, as promised, but unfortunately not singularly so. It was instead yet another data point in a long line of videos showing the torturing of Black bodies by the police. It was more snuff porn with Black victims, in a country becoming desensitized to the violence because of its sheer volume.
On the day of his inauguration, President Donald J. Trump described his "American carnage."
This morning, in the New York Times, Blow has a wide array of things to say about "American perversion." Also, about America's ongoing "snuff porn."
"America should be ashamed," Blow says as he continues. He offers sweeping denunciations of virtually every subgroup in the country, excluding virtually no one except perhaps himself.
Elsewhere in this very large nation, a whole lot of babies are being born today. What sorts of reactions are likely to build a batter nation for these, our newest fellow citizens?
Charles Blow's columns are routinely full of anger. A person might, with perfect sense, say that Blow's anger is almost always justified.
That said, we'll be asking a different type of question this week. It's a question for which there's no ultimate answer:
What kinds of reactions may prove to be helpful? Which kinds of reactions may not?
Tomorrow: E pluribus, insults