Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Kuwait daze

There is a Polish trade fair going on in Kuwait at the moment.

Polish government wants to increase ‘cultural contacts’ apparently - though I imagine the location of the principality (not really a country, is it?), sitting on top of a great big lake of oil, makes Kuwait a ‘strategic’ area where everyone wants to increase ‘cultural contacts’.

I met someone who just came from covering the Polish trade fair. He was saying that cigarettes are a dollar a pack (no tax!) and petrol is less than a dollar a gallon.

In the middle of telling us all this stuff, he sidetracked into a little story about when he was in Frankfurt airport. In the departure lounge was a heavily bearded, mullah type Muslim guy praying on his mat, as he waited for the same plane to Kuwait.

Everyone in the room with me who was listening to this story said, “Yeah, ‘they’ do it on purpose to intimidate people…” Everyone nodded, knowingly.

But do they do it to ‘intimidate’? I thought that if they are devout then they have to pray at certain times. How could people possibly know he was trying to intimidate people? I opened my mouth to correct what is just a rather disturbing prejudice…but in the end, I just couldn’t be bothered.

So I thought I would tell you about it, instead. Very worrying. And it’s going to get worse…

31 comments:

luridtraversal said...

It's not exactly a surprise. Something like that is just a good excuse for people to justify their own predjudices. It's more sad than anything else. I remember one of the last flights I took to the U.S., and there was a large group of Jewish men travelling together. This was at the airport in Warsaw, and I was amazed and outraged at the looks and snide comments that I overheard. And when they took their opportunity to pray while waiting, people couldn't wait to say rude and stupid things about them. Stupidity is universal.

beatroot said...

I think it is our complete inability to assess risk these days. The conversation about the Muslim man today included “I bet nobody wanted to sit next to him on the plane” etc. That is just ridiculous.

Harry said...

Couple of months ago one of my students was complaining that she didn't want to get onto the plane because there was a muslim praying in the departure lounge. I asked her how she knew the man was a muslim and she told me that he "had little black boxes attached to leather straps round his head and heads". Was he kneeling on a mat? No. Was he kneeling or standing? Standing. Are you sure he wasn't Jewish? Er....

Harry said...

Couple of months ago one of my students was complaining that she didn't want to get onto the plane because there was a muslim praying in the departure lounge. I asked her how she knew the man was a muslim and she told me that he "had little black boxes attached to leather straps round his head and heads". Was he kneeling on a mat? No. Was he kneeling or standing? Standing. Are you sure he wasn't Jewish? Er....

geez said...

Is silence complicity?

luridtraversal said...

"Is silence complicity?"
I believe that up to a point, it is. I'm always embarrassed and enraged by my own apathy. I talk about the stupidity of others like I'm an Olympic judge, yet do I ever stand up and say something to these people? No, I don't. I'm not proud of it, but also unfortunately, apathy truly rules this day and age.

beatroot said...

harry - that story sounds like after 9/11 when Sikhs were getting beat up cause they wore turbans.

And did you see that article in the Guardian a few weeks ago by a Muslim secular journo who wore the veil for a day? she said it was horrible to wear it for various reasons. Couldn;t see a thing. Her breath made her face hot...and nobody wanted to sit next to her on the bus. I think those veil things are disgusting, personally, but do people honestly think that all veiled women carry semtex around in their handbags? People are very strange.

Lurid: Then I was apathetic today. You know when you are just about to open your mouth to say something blindingly obvious and then think, 'What's the point...'?

luridtraversal said...

Beatroot: I go through that every day. Again, I talk alot about the "injustices of life", but I just keep my mouth shut too, because "What exactly IS the point?" Nothing I say will change anything, it certainly won't bring tolerance to other people. It'll just get me in a fight mostly. But then again, such is life living in Warsaw!!!

beatroot said...

Lurid: I disagree. The only way people can change their minds about anything is to be exposed to the opposite, or the different. If we were never exposed to anything then how do we change our minds? So, staying quiet (not soething that comes naturally to me) is more pointless than speaking up. But today, during that conversation, I just wanted to leave the room. So I did.

geez said...

BR wrote: The only way people can change their minds about anything is to be exposed to the opposite, or the different.

-- Seems to me the only way people change their minds is when they (we including me) get a black eye - or two and then some.

geez said...

More on (or moron) silence:

http://www.tartarus.org/~martin/essays/burkequote2.html

beatroot said...

Geezer: if someone had to black my eye to win an argument then it would suggest to me that he has lost the argument, already.

geez said...

Figurative, not literal.

beatroot said...

If someone had to figurativly black my eye to won an argument then I would know that they had figurativly lost the argument...

geez said...

You Britz are so civilized.

Seriously, how many times have you or any posters here changed their mind simply thorugh discusssion and weighing their own and an alternative argument and finding the alternative argument to carry more weight?

I think it takes some shame or embarassment or just feeling plain foolish before a change of mindset comes about.

beatroot said...

I have changed my mind about loads of things in my lifetime. And the only way that I could have changed my mind and developed is by being exposed to other arguments. That's how people change there minds. It doesn;t happen by osmosis..

geez said...

Of course you have to be exposed to alternative points of view to change your mind and way of acting. But it takes more than mere exposure, methinks. And I really do think it much more often than not takes more than mindful reflection to change. First a person has to be open to alternative points of view and then open to changing one's opinion and behavior (not always the same). I have not come across many people who have that quality in good measure. And while I strive to be open, objective and all that, I realize that I oftentimes fail in my quest. And it seems to me we all share in this quandry, and the sooner we all realize it, the better it will be for all of us. In other words, something more than reason is necessary. Whether it's a figurative or real black eye, or acceptance of grace, or whatever...

troutsky said...

Changing your mind is one thing and having a mind another.If i see someone one day believing in communism and the next day capitalism and the next day identifying with white power and the next multiculturalism i can't respect his "willingness to change".On the other hand, as a position develops, it can take various turns based on sound argument and analysis. As for confronting stupidity, it can be very invigorating.I often call racists on their remarks and they almost always back down or trot out lame excuses.

beatroot said...

Obviously if people are chaning their views from one day to the next then they are hair-brained idiots. Butdeveloping the way we think over a lifetime comes via experience, debate, argument....

geez said...

How successul have any of you been in sinnificantly changing somebody else's opinion through posting emails or any kind of debate?

And how much are we all creatures of habit? And stubbornly, beyond reason at that even if we insist we are being reasonable?

And istm that folks in general get more conservative, at least in certain respects, as they get older and less and less likely to change. Most folks get set in their ways and they have to become involved in a personally near-apocalyptic event to shake them from years of acquired complacency and/or plain pigheadedness.

It also seems to me that as far as significant changes go, there are a lot more "intellectuals" who have shifted from left to right over their lifetimes. I'm not suggesting this is a good thing. To the contrary, it mightily disturbs me.

beatroot said...

The drift from left to right is a known one (very few go the other way) and in interesting. But that’s more to do with the failure of the left project than anything else.

I have no idea how many people change their minds because of emeals. I, for one, have had arguments with holes in exposed, and I have had to re-jig those arguments. But I repeat - how can one change one’s mind without alternatives being put forward? It’s only by being exposed to the ‘market place of ideas’ that crap ideas get exposed and good ones triumph. That’s why we have something called FREE SPEECH.

geez said...

Sounds like you're just "rejigging" your already pre-set arguments which fit a certain mold, not so much changing your mind. Although, from what I've gleaned from the BR, you (BR) are more open-minded than most folks I've come across (and maybe more successful at it than I try to be).

And the "free" marketplace of ideas may not be all that free and certainly can lead to clutter at best but the hegemony of certain ideas at worst -- again, given that the idea market is never all that free.

beatroot said...

You still fail to explain how it is that people change their minds without being introduced to new ideas...

geez said...

I don't think I ever wrote that people can change their minds without being introduced to new ideas. I think I made that clear in my 1:15 post. But if I gave any other impression, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. What I've been trying to emphasize is that change goes beyond any kind of dialectic. And two or more people very much ideologically alike exposed to a idea or argument new to them can come away from it very differently in terms of modifying (or not) their thinking and doing.

Also, is the marketplace of ideas all that free?

And if this blogger.com loses another of my posts into cyberspace ... ^*&^^%!!

beatroot said...

two or more people very much ideologically alike exposed to a idea or argument new to them can come away from it very differently in terms of modifying (or not) their thinking and doing.

Well, exactly. But what you describe is a dynamic situation. When people are exposed to arguments – and are forced to articulate arguments in response – then one of several things can happen:

1. In vocalizing an argument we often come to realize that there are bits wrong with it. So we try and improve it.
2. We become even more convinced that we are correct because we see that its obvious that our argument is better than theirs.
3. We come to the shocking conclusion that our argument is actually completely wrong.

All or none of that can happen. But NOT having those debates will do NONE of the above. That is why the free flow of ideas is a positive and creative thing.

geez said...

It did it again. !@#$%$@#%!!!

Main point was that #3 above = a black eye hopefully leading to changed understanding and behavior.

mullet said...

sorry, but if results in black eye mentality, then the 1 that didn't dish it out has won!

geez said...

I'm not using a black eye as a metaphor for violence or defeat. And making an argument should not be a matter of dishing it out although that's too often the case. A discussion need not be a contest. Admitting that one is wrong is to accept one's humanity but it is rare among most folks I've ever come across. It's a humbling experience --shocking as BR put it. Maybe it is a shitty metaphor. I got it from an old Phil Ochs song where the lyric included the phrase "I got my education from a black eye."

geez said...

I've been thinking about the lyric. While it seems Ochs used it in the context of learning that the electoral system in the US was rotten after getting a black eye at the hands of police or national guard troops (or watching other 60s antiwar protesters) getting black eyes)... that wasn't the sense I was trying to convey. My point was that personal change is almost always a gut-wrenching experience and that after making the change it feels like you are parading around with a black eye. Consider for example how Kolakowski and Milosz must have felt after realizing that the communist experiment in which they had participated, and in a sense even led to a certain extent, was such a vicious, horrific ruse. Maybe you are lucky enought to have never felt guilty and remorseful about any positions you have taken in your lives. That's not the case with me.

beatroot said...

Thomas Paine and Jesse James are old friends
And Robin Hood is riding on the road again
We were born in a revolution and we died in a wasted war
It's gone that way before
The dogs are chasing chicken bones across the lawn

beatroot said...

Note to everyone: before you post comment right click the mouse and copy it - as Geez has noted, blogger.com is SHITE!