Sunday, March 28, 2004

Culture and the Who-Whom

The concept is from Lenin (there are times when you have no choice but to quote Lenin, and I'm not happy about it) and it recalls his brutal directness: The idea that all that matters in human relations is the question of "who-whom?" (kto-kogo in Russian). That is, who is doing what to whom? In Lenin's view, all interactions between human beings are exploitive in either one direction or the other, and the only question that matters is: Who is exploiting whom? Them or us?

I've started collecting stories of Muslims demanding accomodations from the Western societies they live in. I started with the one a couple of years ago where they demanded that the government of Italy destroy a 15th-century fresco because it offended them. And then there was the recent one about British Muslims' protest against a statue of a boar. Typically, the aggrieved Muslims frame it as a matter of an oppressed minority seeking relief. But in practice there is an implied, or more than implied, threat, as in the "boar" story:

'If the statue is put back in the Arboretum, I have been told it will not be there the next day, or at least it won't be in the same condition." [emphasis added]

In fact--if we look at this phenomenon through the lens of the Who-Whom dynamic--it's very simple: The Muslims are demanding that Europe facilitate its colonization.

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