Monday, January 02, 2006

"The Case for Contamination"

I just had a great time reading "The Case for Contamination", an article by Kwame Anthony Appiah in this week's New York Times Magazine. It blew my mind. One of those things you read that seems to express clearly everything that's been running wildly around in your head, while at the same time saying so much more.

I got into a discussion with some friends who were lamenting the presence of Western Christmas carols being sung in a Damascus church on Christmas Eve. They fear the infringement of these songs will wipe out the much older singing that goes on in some of the churches here. I was arguing against this, not in favor of the christmas carols (no!), but against our deciding what music these folks should be singing. I argued clumsily, but Mr. Appiah here has argued most skillfully, as well as bringing up a lot of other fascinating ideas.

I encourage anyone who has found what I've written interesting to check it out. The link should be permanent now (thanks upyernoz!), so if it stops working let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Please keep commenting and keep emailing me! Thanks.


Blogger upyernoz said...

this should work as a permanent link (i've never tested to see just how permanent it is, but it will at least outlast the link you put up).

in the future, you can avoid NYTimes link rot by using this site. it doesn't work for all NYTimes articles. but it at least covers the major stories (and apparently your contamination article is major enough)

6:40 PM  
Anonymous UNKLE NUNKLE said...

JANUARY 4, 2006
Rich, I have finally caught up with your site and have a couple of things to say. 1. In 1967 when I was in India we used to go out to night clubs with Iraqi pilots who were training there. That was the height of Vietnam and of course most of us were outspoken against the war and our president who was prosecuting it. The Iraqis were aghast, saying how could we possibly disagree with, much less speak out against out president; wasn't it our duty to agree with and support him in every way, without question? We ask a lot of other societies when we push them to speak out against the power structure as well as when we ask the power structures to tolerate that. 2. The motive for our involvement in Iraq and in the middle east goes far beyond and is much more fundamental than the simplicities of jingoism, religion, democracy, Israel, racism, ethnocentrism, women's rights and so on. Read We will be there FOR A LONG TIME! 3. Despite being one of the peaceful people, as you are, I have come to the conclusion that a realistic approach to the "war" against terrorism and a lot of the Iraqi people and other "islamic terrorists" will only ensue when the stakeholders in that war encompass the breadth of the voting public. To me this means requiring EVERYONE to participate in it, and not just as taxpayers or their dependents. This means having a draft - of both men and women, and not limiting involvement to volunters like myself. If we believe in a marketplace of economies and ideals, this has to be part of it. Costs have to be assessed in every heart in relation to how much we are individually willing to spend. There ARE no innocents in this arena, except perhaps the very young, certainly not women or the elderly. The surest way to stop the fighting is to bring it home, into every living room and bedroom. To limit involvement to those impoverished of pocketbook or spirit is the apex of political hypocrisy. Finally 4. Reflecting on my prolonged absences from home, in 11th grade (France) and half way through college (India), there is a point, usually about 3 or 4 months into a sojourn when the initial honeymoon ends. A plateau in language learning is reached, you have scouted out the proximate geography, you realize you do actually miss home, effortless language, your unicycle, easy social relations, familiar faces and places; you haven't yet quite figured out to make local friends, and everything local starts to look faded and less exciting, plus you haven't yet located any local apiaries. Several of my colleagues found this period of time to difficult to bear and bailed out. Those of us who endured found that a springtime of the experience did come and that one day things looked different and brighter. Language became yet easier and suddenly it was possible to sit down in a relaxed and effortless conversation with a local person (probably because something had changed in us and we had let down some unrecognized wall of our own). Things that had been problematic or even difficult or impossible became possible or even easy; we discovered the local beekeepers and their products. In short, keep being yourself, go out and share your goodness. You will find that by the end of your designated tour you will be seriously questioning whether to return home or to stay (in your new home). People ARE the same the world over, and there is love and joy everywhere.

8:02 PM  
Blogger RCC said...

Thanks upyernoz for the link and your other past advices!

Thanks unkle nunkle for all your thoughts. I can't wait to talk more with you when we meet again.

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