Last Friday afternoon was my bi-weekly manicure appointment, and should have marked the end of a challenging but good week, and the beginning of a ten-day Christmas vacation. However, I had to do battle with a most ignorant woman who was grossly misinformed on so many aspects of American history.
Unfortunately, this woman is typical of the American citizenry: neither well-read nor well-educated, much of what she does know is based on stereotypes and miseducation passed down in her family, and has lived a pretty isolated existence. Her “knowledge” of Others is superficial.
As my nails dried under the nail dryer, and as the woman in question was receiving a pedicure – we share the same aesthetician, who, by the way, is a LOVE, it began. First, the woman in question said something re: the holidays, eating too much, and needing to watch her diet. Then, she mentioned something re: how her husband brings the leftovers from home, and deposits them in the teachers’ lounge. She seemed proud of the fact that her husband does this. I remarked that the amount of food in the teachers’ lounge is out-of-control, that teachers need to monitor their intake, and that the eating is spurred by stress. I remarked further that teachers experience LOTS of stress. Moreover, unless one knows a teacher on a personal level, they have NO IDEA as to how stressful the work is. The woman in question then said something re: how teachers drink a lot as well. I reminded her of the stress component to teaching, and, that, I myself, am a teetotaler. She then said something re: teachers have a tough job – especially today. That led to remarks from her re: Sandy Hook/Newtown, Adam Lanza, guns and gun control. She didn’t know how Nancy Lanza, Adam Lanza’s mother, was allowed to own an assault weapon. Apparently, this woman has not read the CT gun laws. Thus the reason Nancy Lanza was able to purchase them, and legally. In fact, I can walk in to my local neighborhood Cabella’s and purchase the guns that Adam Lanza used in his murder-suicide rampage.
I remarked that the United States culture has a strange fetish with guns, and that the very nature of the country’s genesis and history have been largely rooted in violence, i.e. atrocities committed against American Indians and African Americans. The woman in question disagreed, although was unable to say why. She then said that American Indians perpetrated violence, which, in her mind, seemed to justify the violence perpetrated against them – a typical response. We then arrived at the S word: slavery. The woman in question said that slavery existed everywhere. Of course it did. And, still does, in many places. However, what made American slavery unique was it was based on the importation of people who were deemed less than human, for the sole purpose of free labor, i.e. chattel slavery. This in turn made the United States very wealthy in a very short period of time and very early in its history. The woman in question then said: “Slaves sold slaves”. Huh?!? What?!? Those two things don’t even go together. First, slaves weren’t American citizens. Rather, they were counted as 3/5 for voting representation purposes. As a result, slaves weren’t allowed to own property. Think about it: If it were illegal for African slaves to read, then how in Hell could they own property?!? The woman in question was correct about one thing: African chieftains sold Africans to the White slave traders. However, she didn’t seem to understand why: They were war captives of war. As a means of depleting the enemy, African chieftains sold their captives to the White slave traders.
The slaves sold slaves comment was fascinating. So much so, I asked the woman in question to cite her source. Of course, she couldn’t remember. They never can. At that point, she gave up the fight. But, before completely giving it up, she added the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein and the Holocaust. We won’t even go there, except to say that the woman in question was ignorant and grossly misinformed on these issues as well.
Unfortunately, I have met and know people like this woman. It makes me woefully sad that Americans have such a pitiful understanding of their own history. In fact, it’s embarrassing when people from so-called Third World countries not only know their history, but also ours, to the point that they are able to talk proverbial circles around us.
As I got up to leave before the woman in question did, she said, “Enjoy your holidays.” I responded, “You, too”, and departed, shaking my head.