Of rats and humanity (Steinbeck not included)

The award for best rebuttal of disproportionate stupidity this month goes to Maximilian Forte (aka Dr. Max Rat) at Open Anthropology. I'm not even going to summarize his recent encounter with ignorance; it has to be read in full. Read it now. Seriously.

Upon reading his post I was once again brought back to the awkward time- and culture-warp experience I deal with every time I return Stateside. I find the "us" and "them" justification of horrors against humanity to be particularly severe in my home country. Infuriatingly so. In the "war" in Iraq as in Afghanistan, it is impossible to throw around the word "terrorist" without feeling hypocritical. And yet the labels are taken for granted across all sectors of society. "We" are ultimately right: you can tell, because we have the military power to back it up. "They" are absolutely wrong: you can tell by the color of their skin and, let's face it, they're just not like us.

The truth is that we are all rats for the way we treat other human beings and the way that we allow them to be treated (more often than not on the basis of an arbitrary hierarchy of superiority). A world without borders will never exist, not because of geography, but because of humanity's repugnance towards itself.

The highlights of this eloquent and brilliant post (aside from the strong desire the interchange induces to bang your head against a brick wall) are the following obvious facts that warmongers and liberals alike are consistently afraid to admit:

1. "Salam murdered a foreign occupier." and "Salam got murdered in his own country by foreign occupiers."

2. "If you don’t like it, then stay the fuck out of Afghanistan, and you won’t get killed."

Not bad for a rat cowering in an ivory tower, eh?

In other news, Google truly is the key to understanding humankind; namely, how amazing it is that people have managed to maintain their stewardship of the planet for so long. In other words: "We. Are. Doomed." Check out these suggested search results based on keyword requests in Google:

[from Gizmodo]

I like when people ask me why I'm an anthropologist and what insight my research on the Internet could possibly provide in understanding human society. It's priceless!

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Anonymous said...

Thanks, I can tell you really enjoyed that set of encounters. Some of the people who post the kinds of comments that you/I object to, do it out of "duty": they are, in some instances, military counter-bloggers, and I have tracked their IPs to both Afghanistan and Fort Leavenworth. In other cases, they are quite anonymous. Since anthropologists and psychologists stuck their necks out to defend the integrity of their disciplines and to object to being used by the military, they have made themselves into targets for the "milbloggers." In my case, however, they fail to understand that I enjoy their visits. Just like a typical rat, who can feast on the occasional turd, pardon the image.

Thanks again, and best wishes.

Fran Barone said...

Thanks for your comment (and the mental image).

I also enjoy the visits of tunnel-visioned hatred peddlers, with their well-worn textbook and prime time news arguments, brutal stubborness and arbitrary sense of "duty". And it's not just because of the comic relief it provides. What they don't realize is that these people are the mother's milk of anthropology, forever sustaining my true desire to poke holes in the threadbare concept of humanity. There's always plenty of trash for rats to gorge themselves on, which begs me to draw the analogy between the blogosphere and a teeming, rotting garbage dumpster in a dank city alley.

All the best.

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