19 January, 2010

Genocide by any other name...

This morning I was out walking the dog when I came across a gregarious older man who started chatting with me. Sensing that he was lonely, I stopped for a minute to listen. He started out fine enough, but then he began talking about how badly the Germans treat him because he comes from Romania. And that that's just what Germans do, because look at the war. But not all Germans were bad, and not all of them knew what was going on. And anyway, look at the Jews! No one wants to live with them anyway. They're insidious-- they'll send one family member into a community to get established and then the rest of them come and take over...

At first I was just incredulous at his lack of tact, but at this point I became angry. Told him that there were members of my grandmother's family who died in concentration camps, and that it doesn't matter what one thinks about a certain group of people, no one deserves that! Then I walked away and left him sputtering.

A few minutes later I recounted the conversation to an acquaintance and she said: "Some people are just unbelievable! Yes, what happened in WWII was horrible. I hope nothing like that ever happens again!"

And I was shocked and said: "But it's still happening today! Look at what's happening in Sudan and the Congo!"

Her reply: "Yes, but that's Africa. Africa is a whole different story..."

6 comments:

anno said...

This would seem unbelievable, except for similar things I've heard this year. Sad, though, how hard it seems to be to understand/empathize with life beyond our own walls.

Goofball said...

How outragious!
He must have been mistaken. What he meant to say "The Dutch...well the Dutch are a whole different story"

Goofball said...

The dutch are truly a different kind of their own...


but on a more serious note, I want to clarify that I wish the Dutch no harm whatsoever !
No population really. I totally agree with your post though. Racial ignorism & prejudice is scary and I guess the worst are the prejudices we are not even aware off!

G in Berlin said...

Sometimes I find this attitude overwhelming. I also find that people are really quite open about it here, which makes it far more frightening (to me) than when it is felt one needs to keep those thoughts hidden and displayed only to intimates.
Very much the same thing happened to me on the bus from Luton to London last month, with a very old (very drunk) Irishman. I wound up telling him that I could no longer speak to him and I thought he would have an apoplectic fit (not my fault! He was sitting next to me!No more seats!5 am!). I just couldn't allow him to slag on the Germans and the English to me anymore. What was, was. What is, is. Time to deal with what is,is now.Doesn't mean to forget, of course.

Acedog said...

I had a similar experience years ago on a flight from Minneapolis to St. Louis. I felt like I needed a shower when the conversation was over!

Africakid said...

Those are such strange statements to me. Not sure how someone can say that, when a person is a person, no matter the country...

At least you spoke up!