Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Making Distinctions

There's an old joke that I was told in college but have never seen in print, that goes, A drunk white Jew and a drunk Chinese guy find themselves seated near one another at a bar. And the drunk white Jew says, "Your people should be ashamed of what you did at Pearl Harbor." "Huh? I'm not even Japanese!" "Eh, Chinese, Japanese, what's the difference!" "Well, on those grounds, your people should be ashamed of having sunk the Titanic!" "Huh? The Titanic was hit by an iceberg!" "Eh, iceberg, Goldberg, what's the difference?" In other words, pace Moon, Leon Klinghoffer was not killed by American Muslims. Or by Muslims who immigrated to the U.S. and refused to assimilate. Or by Sufis. The argument that "Those People must have realized that their conduct would result in my making associations that would leave my feelings hurt" cannot be applied to such random associations as iceberg/Goldberg. It's like an eerie parody of the "You must have known that your noose/Confederate Naval Battle Flag/blackface performance would leave people outraged and threatened for reasons having to do with history." Except that "history" is replaced by "unrelated things that demagogues say are scary."

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