February 16, 2013
My readers write…
Ilion Troas writes:
A couple of years ago, I took a temporary job with a janitorial service, and was assigned to the crew cleaning at a steel mill. On the first day, I was told about a woman in the corporate office who was “allergic to chemicals” — meaning she’d throw a fit about anything you were doing to clean (*). But, it wasn’t pointed out to me which woman it was.
A day or two later, I was assigned to work in the corporate offices, rather than across the road in the mill itself. I walked into a large corner office, containing a semi-large middle-aged woman – and was about knocked on my ass by the thick stench of her perfume. I said to myself, “That is the woman who is “allergic” to “chemicals”” — and she was. My dismissal from that job, after about 2 1/2 weeks, was related to my refusal to stop mopping the hallway (which was my job to do that day) due to her insistance that the “chemicals” (**) in the mop water were causing her respiratory distress.
(*) For some stupid reason the management of the steel mill insisted that we clean the offices while they were there working in them.
(**) the particular “chemicals” I was using were vinegar and water.
Thanks for recalling that Commentary article on Gandhi; I hadn’t thought of it in years but it was just as I remembered, once reminded–the reason I could never again take Gandhi seriously. If you are further interested, and you may not be, I recommend George Orwell’s essay on Gandhi. The science fiction writer Harry Turtledov has a story which you could probably chase down, “The Last Article.” In this alternate history Britain loses the war and the story begins as the Germans are formally hauling down the Union Jack and raising the swastika.
Gandhi decides to use the tactics against the Nazis that he had against the British and…I don’t want to spoil the suspense by telling you how it comes out.
Interesting thing about the Palestinians, though: Gandhi’s tactics work against countries that have scruples, which includes places like the UK, the US, and yes, Israel. It’s not just because of possible international embarrassment that the Israelis are not going to fire into a crowd of people as if they were, say, Arabs. it’s noteworthy that this is a tactic that they’ve never really tried, although it would probably work. The fact that they’ve never considered shows something, I think, about the kind of people they are and what their real goals are. Steven Harper understands. Barack Obama…well, he says he knows more about policy than his policy advisers, knows more about foreign affairs than his advisers in that area, and knows more about Judaism than any previous president (since Adams and Jefferson, among others, knew biblical Hebrew I doubt it). But I wish he’d ask Mr. Harper for some insight.
As your headline points out, a lack of self-esteem is not black Americans’ problem. The same AAUW study that purports to show that teenage girls suffer from low-esteem also shows that black teens, by all accounts the most at-risk demographic group in the country, score well on self-esteem. I could say there’s a problem with their culture but you know, that’s racist. Besides, all cultures are equal and equally valid and valuable…except for, say, Southern Baptists.