Multiculturalism?

A post that is somewhat related to my training!! How exciting!! Bless my not blabbing about how Scotland should gain independence, eh? I know; how can anyone bother about some other country’s independence over the political situation in their own country? Though I am leaning towards the latter more and more now. Still; yes. No, not about prisons, though every time I see people wearing leggings, I wish that Robert Napier didn’t win his case, so that we could dump those criminals into some Scottish prison and make them suffer with all the slopping out and such. See, the complicated crap of having different legal system. Ladida, I know it was the agreement when they joined the UK; similar to Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia, eh? Okay fine; back to the actual topic.

I am currently reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides that is making me question my thinking that my EU tutor’s name would be the most complicated Greek name I would come across. Boy, was I wrong. Sigh.

Oh well.

That’s not the problem, though in a way it is, for me to understand the story. Sometimes I confuse the names. Gahh. Honestly, how did the 7 year old me read Oddyssey and Illiad. I know, what was my mother thinking???

No idea; not going to ask her now.

Thinking of the topics dealt there…

Maybe that’s why I’m a bit screwed up. Hmmm…

Oh well.

Anyway, yes. Middlesex. I am currently reading it, might I mention that again.

It is the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. No, I didn’t decide to buy it because it was the Pulitzer Price winner; I only own one other Pulitzer Prize winner, which is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Nonetheless, I would like to purchase The Color Purple by Alice Walker. And that’s about it, I think. Hmmm…

To quote wikipedia, “The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction has been awarded since 1948 for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life” (emphasis added). [I feel like I am writing a paper. Haha.]

I am only on page 110, so I am doubting it quite a bit that the book is about American life since I happen to keep stumbling around with weird and unpronounceable Greek names (forget about spelling them; how the heck did the school manager manage to make me memorize my tutor’s name in 15 mins tops? Gosh… That woman is insane. Well, obvious from her choice of husband, I guess…) and talking about the war between Greece and Turkey… like the only thing American is the location; Detroit, Michigan.

However, a few pages back, I stumbled upon something extremely American, in my view.

When Barrack Obama won his the US presidential elections, there was quite a number of people who said that there might be hope for Malaysia to have a non-Malay Prime Minister one day because Obama’s Black; or should I say, African American.

I snorted and laughed at those articles.

It is such a different situation in America and in Malaysia. The seperation of races by the British pre-independence has made every race still have their own identity. Unlike in the US, where immigrants would need to absorb the American culture.

There are other pages that would show how they impose these on the protagonist/ narrator’s grandparents, who came from Smyrna (modern day Izmir), when they just arrived. They cut his grandmother’s hair and changed her clothing. The grandfather was told to clean his teeth the “American” way (using what I am thinking is a toothbrush and paste instead of baking soda. God; I can’t even eat anything baked with too much baking soda[I’m crazy; I can tell. No, I wasn’t trained to be some fancy chef, though I’m thinking of ditching law for it], much less put it in my mouth to clean my teeth with it!! Would have to take out my tongue first!!) and the fact that they consume too much garlic in their food counts against him getting a proper job at Ford. Yes, the car company.

Anyway, they were required to learn English, and had some sort of graduation ceremony when they have finished; a pageant, actually, was how Mr Eugenides describes it, with the grandfather of the protagonist joining in… I own a British paperback edition, and I’m quoting pages 104-105.

The curitain parts to gaps and scattered applause. A painted flat shows a steamship, two huge smokestacks, and a swath of deck and railing. A gangway extends into the stage’s other focal point: a giant gray cauldron emblazoned with the words FORD ENGLISH SCHOOL MELTING POT. A European folk melody begins to play. Suddenly a lone figure appears on the gangway. Dressed in a Balkan costume of vest, ballooning trousers, and high leather boots, the immigrant carries his possessions bundled on a stick. He looks around with apprehension and the descends into the melting pot.
“What propaganda,” Zismo murmurs in his seat. (Author’s note: I so have to agree with this)
Lina shushes him.
Now SYRIA descends into the pot. Then ITALY. POLAND. NORWAY. PALESTINE. And finally: GREECE.
“Look, it’s Lefty (the grandfather)!”
Wearing embroidered palikari vest, puffy-sleeved poukamiso, and pleated foustanella skirt, my grandfatehr bestrides the gangway. He pauses a moment to look out at the audience, but the bright lights blind him. He can’t see my grandmother looking back, bursting with her secret. GERMANY taps him on the back. “Macht schnell. Excuse me. Go fastly.”
In the front row, Henry Ford nhods with approval, enjoying the show. Mrs. Ford tries to whisper in his ear, but he waves her off. His blue seagull’s eyes dart from face to face as the English instructors appear onstage next. They carry long spoons, which they insert into the pot. The lights turn red and flicker as the instructors stir. Steams rises over the stage.
Inside the cauldron, men are packed together, throwing off immigrayion costumes, putting on suits. Limbs are tangling up, feet stepping on feet. Lefty says, “Pradon me, excuse me,” feeling thoroughly American as he pulls on his blue wool trousers and jacket. In his mouth: thirty-two teeth brushed in the American manner. His underarms: liberally sprinkled with American deodorant. And now spoons are descending from above, men are churning around and around…
… as two men, short and tall, stand in the wings, holding a piece of paper…
… and out in the audience my grandmother has a stunned look on her face…
… and the melting pot boils over. Red lights brighten. The orchestra launches into “Yankee Doodle.” One by one, the Ford English School graduates rise from the cauldron. Dressed in blue and gray suits, they climb out, waving American flags, to thunderous applause.

Makes me wonder what would have been worse for them… staying on at what is now called Izmir, to be part of secular Turkey… or to go to the US. Though since they had other secrets which I am not going to spill here… Maybe it would have been better to go to the US. Of course, taking into account the war and all… Yes yes.

Still… Do Malaysians want that? What happens in the US and in secular Turkey? That you would have to be assimilated into the majority’s culture? Since the minorities are assimilated into the majority, the clashes are much less. The result in both the US and Turkey is the same. However, the former, the minority would need to be like the majority whereas Turkey adopted something from the outside that their first president champions.

Either way, I think it strips off your right to identity… Which would be quite a number of human rights that’ll be stripped off; privacy, conscience and religion, association… maybe also even expression…

I see turning everyone into just one race violates more human rights than protect; it is something artificial that the government could impose. Might work “officially”, but unlikely would change the thinking and prejudice of the people.

And what the Americans have done to the immigrants… Especially since they didn’t have much choice; stay in your own country and die, or go find new hope in a new country.

Multiculturalism in America? Pretty much bullshit to me.

With a winner of the Pulitzer Prize doing it so well in describing it… Why doubt it?

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