Battlepanda: Why we can't just get along


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Why we can't just get along

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Now, the Star-Bell Sneetches had bellies with stars.
The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars.

Those stars weren’t so big. They were really so small
You might think such a thing wouldn’t matter at all.

But, if you've read the classic Dr. Seuss story, you'd know you would think wrong. Daryl McCullough have some thoughts on how the whole star-bellied/plain-bellied Sneetch conflict could have really taken a turn for a worse if they hadn't come to their senses and realized that Sneetches are Sneetches (and that no kind of Sneetch is the best for the Beaches.):
First, even though the situation of ethnic hatred and violence is insane, the actions of individuals leading to the situation are really not so irrational. You have two groups, the star-bellied sneetches and the plain-bellied sneetches, for example. There is really no rational reason for the one kind of sneetch to hate the other kind of sneetch. However, it doesn't take much for some sneetches to come to the conclusion that the other sneetches are bigoted. The last three rulers have all been star-bellied sneetches. That can't be just a coincidence, can it? Once the suspicion arises that the star-bellied sneetches are getting more than their fair share, the plain-bellied sneetches start grumbling and being resentful. Then the star-bellied sneetches can rationally justify discriminating against plain-bellied sneetches: they are more likely to be resentful grumblers. I don't want any kind of tension, so I should probably stick to star-bellied sneetches. So discrimination grows and grumbling grows, and eventually grumbing turns into violence. Then the star-bellied sneetches learn not to go in plain-bellied neighborhoods, and the two groups become more and more polarized.

The basis for discriminating is almost completely irrelevant, except that to really get a good ethnic conflict going, the differences have to be roughly hereditary. Religious and language preferences aren't actually hereditary, but they might as well be---children strongly tend to make the same choices as their parents (especially if the people who chose differently live in different neighborhoods).

So acting on irrational bigotry is not necessarily irrational. It's a fact that people of one racial or ethnic group cannot safely walk in some neighborhoods dominated by another group. So being scared of the other group is rational, in many cases. As Yoda can tell you:
Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
Wise that Yoda is. Kudos to Daryl for starting a post with Dr. Seuss and ending with Yoda, by the way.