“What ‘multiculturalism’ boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture – and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture.” ~Thomas Sowell
Far too many people define themselves in a hyphenated Status. This was virtually unheard of up until the 1970’s. Americans were, well…just “Americans” that used to be good enough. Many around the world longed to claim ownership to the title, some even risking life and limb for the opportunity.
This reality struck home when a friend of mine and I were sitting at the counter in a local diner. We were chit-chatting when my pal decides to quiz me in Swedish (or as we say), “Svenska”. So we exchanged a words and he ribbed me about my poor pronunciation.
Meanwhile, the young server behind the counter was listening, obviously fascinated with our banter. So Kyle says to her, “Kan jag få en påfyllning?” or in “Engelska,” May I have a refill? She looks right at us and says, Oh, Sorry, I don’t speak Spanish….We about passed out from laughing. Now, most people who have the rare occasion to hear a Scandinavian language, though they might have no clue what it is being spoken, it clearly ain’t Spanish…I mean Spanish IS NOT uncommon in the Queen City. Scandinavian dialects with their tonality and intonation is clearly distinguishable.
So this waitress gleefully tells Kyle, say something in Swedish! Kyle says to her…(with all sincerity), “Må din hjärna faller ur öronen som pannkaka sirap.” I nearly spit coffee all over the counter, laughing…. She was tickled and thrilled. Translation: “May your brains fall out of your ears like Pancake Syrup.” The moral of the story: Just because a language isn’t familiar, doesn’t mean automatically that its’ Spanish. And, don’t think the speaker is saying something nice about you.
My friend Kyle and I have patronymic names, So, people sometimes ask what nationality I am. I guess I confuse people when I tell them, I’m American” (They really want to know my heritage-Swedish-but that is not what they asked) Besides, when I tell him or her, “Swedish”…I get, “You don’t look Swedish” I usually respond, well, “You don’t look “American” Many think about that, believe it or not.
Like a good friend of mine who emigrated here from South Africa. He really messes with people. He has a thick Dutch-like Accent(Africaans, for you people in Allenstown). He became a U.S. Citizen recently and I witnessed him tell somebody, “I’m an African-American.” Stunned, the person says, “But…But…Your White!” Knowing American emphasis on hyphenated-Americans, he likes to mess with people. Another time, a Pizza Hut waitress, intrigued by his accent asked, “What are you?” to which he reponded, “I am a human being.” She then giggles and says, “No silly what nationality are you?” to which he responded, “Boer” Now she looked really confused…shook her head and walked away…It was a good laugh. Google it, toots.
Which leads me to my question: Are we really a “multicultural” society? “Multi” implies a certain degree of E pluribus Unum…but in 2011, this ain’t it. The concept seems to divide on a level that is least desirable. Just change it to E Pluribus….