Museum of Memories and Tolerance

Earlier this week, a new museum opened its doors to the general public. Not an old museum that’s been renovated, like the National Museum of Culture. A brand spanking new museum, building, exhibits and all. Hosting displays detailing genocides and human rights abuses around the world that have happened in the last century or three.

So I went to check it out. It was open, nice and early. Entry was 55 pesos. And photography inside the building banned. I kept my 55 pesos, putting it back in my pocket. I thanked the lady at the front door, and I turned around and went elsewhere.

With few exceptions, such as those places hosting material subject to copyright, a photographer friendly policy isn’t just a positive thing because it keeps the paying customers happy. It’s positive because it spreads the word. It’s free marketing. It brings people in through the doors.

In this case, with this museum, I can’t help but think their anti-photographer stance is not only silly, but a ridiculous and contradictory policy. This is a museum which relied on photographers and others of a documenting streak to report the atrocities.

This is a museum which is supposed to be about spreading a message. And then it institutes a policy running contrary to the nature of one of its primary sources, and conflicting with its very raison d’etre. I shall write them a letter and question this most questionable of policies.

It was a shame. I’d have liked to see the insides. Maybe one day. It was quite topical. Only recently did I get myself embroiled in a debate related to this topic. Muticulturalism is dead, apparently. The blogger said so, and Ms Merkel too, so it must be true. For the record, I too think the policies employed with regard this topic by many Western countries are not working, or at the least not working as they should. But more on that later.

I had some issues with the arguments being made, not least because that argument jumped through diversity, multiculturalism and immigration with the consistency of jelly left out in the sun, and with a sense of coherence to match. There is a distinction between diversity and enforced diversity, I was told. But concise, frank and meaningful definitions for those, and other terms, failed to materialise.

I can commiserate. They are many things to many people. All the more reason to define them in the context of the argument carefully and with thought. Differing cultures do clash, and they don’t actually need to be terribly different to be able to clash in a grand way. There are difficulties around the world when two worlds collide.

We are bound by commonalities, was another theme. This I liked. We are. But the strength of those commonalties are often weak, and I’m not sure ‘enforced commonalities’ is any more of a solution than ‘enforced diversity’ is, whatever those two might be. Should a single language be enforced? It sounds good. Even then there are difficulties. Which language? In parts of Scotland, bilingual signposting is going up. English and Scottish Gaelic. Gaelic was there first, you know. Should that be the lingua franca? Even though there are more native speakers of Polish?

Commonalities. It boils down to the fact that we all breathe the same air, and we are all mortal. Said about fifty years ago, and as true today as it was then. I’d love to say I have a solution, or even that there is a solution. I commented that the genie is out of the bottle. It’s not going back inside, nor is a diet on the cards. The good old days when everything was just dandy is another old and battered argument often brought up. It was all good back then, you know.

Through poor memory, ignorance or just a reluctance to recall the darker side of the ‘good old days’ – take your pick. With some people, they were the good old days simply because black people, Jews, gays and women knew their place. Those places being the cotton fields, the concentration camps, the closet and the kitchen. Out of sight, out of mind.

I have a general theory, if not a solution. That every person of sound mind be allowed to do anything whatsoever, providing that it does not unreasonably interfere or impinge on others rights to the same freedom. What’s reasonable? Aha! Isn’t that just the trick. The devil is in the detail, literally. It’s all about compromise. When a society has a population of more than one, everything becomes a compromise. Comprises rarely result in any sort of perfection or any attainment of ideals, but either in mutual tolerance or as often as not, change.

Change happens. It is an inevitable, unavoidable, necessary and often painful process of every organism and mechanism known to man, and probably to all those not known to man. Some embrace it. Some take advantage of it. Some adapt to it. Some attempt to cocoon themselves. Others curl up in a corner, thumb stuck in mouth. No one has yet found a way to prevent it.

People do try though. You have to give them that. Pointing to a system which is not functioning though, does not mean a declaration of victory can be made. That’s another big issue I have with the anti-multiculturalist argument. Victory over the current form of multiculturalism can only be attained by coming up with an alternative, by implementing it, and by it working. Or at least, working better.

That alternative is sadly lacking. Perhaps forced diversity really has created problems that only the intelligentsia could fail to see. But until the hoi polloi come up with what seems to currently be a most evasive solution, that is within the bounds of reality and decency, their case holds no water. It takes no IQ whatsoever, after all, to be one of those who curl up in the corner, thumb in mouth.

I had a final issue I tried to take to task in that debate. Lions don’t run with cheetahs, I’m told. I’m inclined to accept that. The Hutu dodge the Tutsi. Although I thought, last time they had a major dispute, it was the other way round. And judging by the body count, they didn’t dodge anywhere near the standard required. Yet the Hutu used to run with the Tutsi. Didn’t you know?

It was only when the European colonisers came and took favour with one, placing him above the other, that a serious problem arose. Racial profiling on a grand and twisted scale. But the concept of (albeit more logical, limited and less deadly) racial profiling as having a place in Western society lives on, it seems. It needs to be un-demonised, I’m told. Nonsense. Pulling the horns out of the devils head and cutting off his barbed tail won’t turn the beast into an angel. This is one genie we can keep in the bottle.

The idea of introducing legislation to allow the unwarranted intrusion by authorities into the lives of people based purely and solely on the colour of their skin has no place in a modern society. Besides, how will we dig out the Muslims? Force all airline passengers to lick a rasher of bacon before boarding? Vegetarians would be outraged.

Strip search all those who look Arabic? Richard Reid would have sneaked right through. Tug on the tassles of the bearded? Abraham Lincoln would be turning in his grave. There is only one place racial profiling belongs. In a museum, such as the one I didn’t quite get to go into today.

There is an irony to this. What ideas are mooted, racial profiling, the building of walls, the banning of religious clothing and the like are no more than a form of enforced conformity and/or division, that does nothing more than sow seeds of distrust and disharmony. And the eventual creation of the monster they want to destroy, using the same tools of legislation and enforcement that they so despise when put to work by the ‘other side’.

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  • Well we part a ways on the socialist dogma – seems to me the government is incapable of handling money well and certainly doesn’t have a grip on education or a true interest in its people – shown time and time again. I think it is better for them to butt out. The bottom line is power corrupts – you can add that to Senor Felipe’s take on a mission to have said U.S. government build high walls around its kingdom or should I write kingdumb.

    I believe in the mantra One Tribe Y’all You can call that unrealistic, just as you might Give peace a chance – but they are platforms I can stand on – or Come on everybody lets love one another right now! 😉

    While those perhaps unrealistic quips can be scoffed at, calling them banal platitudes – they make me feel good and I will continue with that belief and hope for the future.

    And I am still a fan.

    • I’d say that governments, to differing degrees, have a habit of being inefficient. We’d agree on that, I think! But business too has a habit of being too profit orientated and short sighted. Also shown time and time again. The massive corporations that exist today don’t just stifle competition, but also the capitalist ideals as well, and have become, perhaps, almost, private governments with a more limited scope, less democratic process and without the ability or desire to focus on what they were supposed to be doing in the first place.

      There are simply some parts of the machine that is society that are too critical to be allowed to be held hostage to profit, or to lack long term investment. There’s a phrase that’s gotten popular over the last couple of years – too big to fail. Only a government should be too big to fail. Else that other phrase is played – privatised profits, socialised losses. Some projects and infrastructure is simply too big to fail by definition.

      I have no problem with private education, but existing alongside a state system, where they both provide an education of a high standard, but the latter can perhaps specialise in luxury, extra curricular activities etc. They’d rival each other, I’m sure. Competition is good, I have no doubt about that.

      I’d just like a society where every individual enters the workplace, either at 18 or after university, on a level playing field. Equal opportunities to be the best they can, at what they are best at. No silver spooned darlings, no disadvantaged dweebs. Equipped properly, then it’s up to them.

      The US has a largely socialised health system. As I understand it, anyone, insured or not, in a bit of a medically urgent situation, gets treated. Less urgent treatment doesn’t, perhaps. Which is more cost effective solution for a society – the cost of a person taken out of the work place due to untreated (or under-treated) maladies, or paying for the care and getting some of it back through tax because he can now continue to work?

      I say quit the pretence that it’s not a social system, cut out the lawyers, insurance companies, leeches and fix people on the state’s tab. It’s cheaper, ethically right and simply more practical.

      A world without borders? Yup, I’m with you. It’s just an ideal of course. I know it’s not practical, it’s not realistic, and I wouldn’t implement it. But there’s nowt wrong with having principals and goals, and working towards them, even if they are ultimately unachievable.

      Down with walls. They never work, and only pay back the investment when they’re old enough to attract tourists.

    • Fandom is mutual. Viva Vercruz, Mexile, Mexico and everything inbetween 🙂

      I visited Veracruz back in 2003. El Tajin has always been at the top of my list of must sees, ever since I came back here in 2005. Alas, the clock has ticked down, and it may have to wait for another year. Hopefully not another life…

  • The famed little ‘l’ libertarian! Politics is a complex thing. When it comes to government spending I suddenly turn all socialist. Crucial national infrastructure, education up to and including university, mass transit systems, health – all should be state run.

    An inheritance tax of 100% sounds good too, although the implications of putting it into practice is easier said than done. But is that socialist? I’d define that, along with free education as being essential pillars of capitalism.

    It is very sad when photography is banned for no seemingly good reason. All the sadder when there are positive reasons to encourage happy snappers to get busy.

  • Hombre – Quite a treatise! You are starting to sound like a libertarian (note the small “l”).

    Really alarming and quite intolerant to ban photos – it amazes me how lame some institutional management can be. It makes you wonder how so many marvelous things have been constructed and put together on this planet.

    Hang-in there amigo – I am a fan.

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