Hey Jewboy!Posted by Phil Ferguson on September 22nd, 2012 – Comments Off – Posted in Uncategorized
Post by Jim Newman
It’s a lot like Brer Rabbit saying “Whatever you do, don’t throw me in that briar patch!” when that is exactly what he wants. The reverse taunt or provoking the provoker. Or, again, the Western gunslinger taunting his victim, knowing that whoever throws the first punch, draws first, is the most blameworthy. “Who threw the first punch?” Our law tends to value the physical act over verbal instigation. Clear and present danger with intention. There’s a nebulous kind of jurisprudence.
If you call a school and say there’s going to be a bomb in the building next January 1 at 1:30, yawn. Call in and say there is a bomb in the building, everyone get out now. Boy, howdee, suspension row coming your way.
In western (and in many other cultures) law and liability, we expect people to withstand provocation. Even the bully who starts poking you is looking for retaliation so they can more justifiably hit hardest sooner. The exasperated principal says “who started it?” The righteous but lame response is “I didn’t start it but I finished it.” Hell, even my kids chime in with arguing about who started it, seeking to divert blame and find a worthy victim, themselves.
My mother taught piano at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas in the 60’s. One of her students, Thelma, came to class extremely upset. Someone had called her nigger, meaning it, and she was so upset she could barely function, sobbing. Bill the trumpet teacher took her aside into his office and in short told her he was going to call her nigger every time he saw her until she didn’t care. She was right to be offended but being incapacitated by being called nigger was letting the asshole win.
It took awhile but it was on one of those casual chances in the hallway when they passed each other and he said “hi nigger” she responded “Bill, you stop that. You don’t bother me at all” and laughed and walked on.
In relating this story over the years, my mother had mixed reactions. Those who laughed and get it and those who thought Bill should have let her be sensitized. Ghetto blacks got it and Black Power blacks got it and soon niggers calling each other niggers as they owned the word got it. Then it flipped. Only a brother could call another brother nigger. It became an inside acceptance. Yet, it still helped ease the pain of being called nigger on the outside—the initial shock wears off.
I read a lot of Greek mythology when I was young. One of my favorite spots was when I read “those whom the gods would destroy they first make angry”–because they will destroy themselves. This is a cry to rationality as the greeks were want to do. I used to be embarrassed about anger but I learned anger is not a useless emotion as is so often touted. Anger is motivation and energy. You channel your anger into constructive acts.
As an aside. The Greeks continued with rationality, fleeing gods with personality, and beginning the Ionian Enlightenment. I can’t help but think if Persia hadn’t invaded Anatolia, Greek rationality and science might have better hybridized passion and reason in the material as in Democritus rather than going to the Athenian enlightenment with its love of Plato and the symbolic which really did give credibility to the idea of a perfect god embodied as a form in humans.
My cousin trains horses. I was looking over one of her Dressage books–dressage being a highly refined horsemanship. It spoke of raising cortisol so you could perform better. Huh, I spent my life trying to reduce cortisol the stress-induced hormone that causes all kids of chronic health issues. Here, they were trying to elevate it to raise performance!
I was called Jewboy even though my dad was a Jew whom I never met and in Judaism heritage is passed maternally—as if religion were a race. In Germany that would have been enough to get me to the gas chambers. Close enough for the Nazis. Hell, I didn’t even know my Grandmother’s last name was Papawitz (on my father’s side) and my Grandfather’s name was Newman until three years ago. That’s how acrimonious my mother’s divorce was—and it was over religion, explicitly. A gentile and a Jew. They couldn’t convert and their families wouldn’t let them live together. The only way it could have been more tragic would have been if they had died by poison and dagger as in Romeo and Juliet.
Nevertheless, I did begin to care about my heritage; it is my genetics. One side, Henry Watkins, came in in 1623 on The Phoenix and the other side through Ellis island. I felt I embodied the two extremes of The American Experience.
Nowadays, praiseworthy consideration demands we pay attention when someone says “that’s hurting me”. We don’t demand they get over it. If someone says they are offended we are supposed to respond with restraint and avoid offending them. Sometimes this gets difficult.
I worked as a maintenance employee at Grand Teton Lodge years ago as a late teen. I met my first wife there and she worked in the kitchen so I saw her serving food at lunch. One of my coworkers was an asshole, Brett, and he was as southern misogynist as they get, with his honeys, get me this, and drawling condescending attitude. She didn’t take it and he said “it offends me that you treat me this way.” And he was truly offended. He expected to be treated like the boss, served and flattered. She had come from a family where her dad would yell out “Barb, fix me a plate” and hated that relation style. She ignored his pain and called him an asshole. After that all I heard was she was a bitch and how did I stand her. She should be taught manners.
It gets tricky when it involves countries with oil, weapons, poverty, and disenfranchised young men. Remember when you told your screaming child they are behaving badly because they are tired and how that made them scream even more because it was clear you weren’t paying attention to what they needed but were assuming it was irrational and could be ignored? It’s too bad you can’t tell a country or group of people to take a time out! It’s too bad you can’t say you’re overreacting because you’re educated, have little hope of a job, and need to take your anger to some nebulous material you can’t tangibly attack. As frustrating as being told to go vote if you want to change the country.
My initial reaction when Terry Jones wanted to burn a Koran on Youtube was to get a Bible, a Koran, a Bhagavad Gita, a Constitution, and Plato’s dialogs and burn them all. They are just books damnit! This isn’t a pogrom where burning books is part of burning people or removing democracy, Hitler or the Czar is not coming to obliterate you. Burn a dollar bill. It’s illegal but cathartic. Hell, burn a 20. Not as status as the Japanese eat gold but as understanding the real from the unreal. In burning money it’s even the real but think about it.
Ed Abbey wrote in response to the increasing illegal immigration along the Mexico border ruining some of the most beautiful desert in the world that he thought that rather than persecuting them we should turn them around, give them a rifle, and tell them to change their world.
Yeah, it’s a story not literal advice. The point is we become too occupied with the fantastic and symbolic rather than the tangible and evidential. That’s why I outed myself as a secularist and atheist.
Jim Newman, bright and well
www.frontiersofreason.com and www.brightpride.com