Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Politically Correct

When i was a kid, watching television program was always exciting. My parents did not bother with slapstick comedy of Donald Duck and Chip and Dale. We just sat down and laughed. My parents did not think of any possibilities if Chip and Dale represent male friendship.

These days it is all different story. Parents or adults will think of hidden agenda that is played out in kids television programme. ABC famous kid show Playschool was a target of criticism. John Howard accussed ABC running agenda with its reference to lesbian parents. In other occassion, the absence of the word Black in well-known nursery rhyme Ba Ba Black Sheep was an indication of this hidden agenda of teaching children to be politically correct.

This is perhaps out of proportion. None of kids ever think of the word Black has a degrading meaning. Nor does two mums mean promoting lesbianism. This sort of controversy is not the first time. In US a Reverend Jerry Falwell attacked British show Teletubbies as bad role model for children due to gay association with the purple Tinky-Winky.

In Tinky-Winky case, sexless Tinky-Winky is then sexed by Falwell interpretation of symbols attached to Tinky-Winky: purple and gay color, male voice but carrying little handbag and triangle as gay liberation symbol. But in Playschool case, it is rather different. Erasing Black sheep as an atempt of being politically correct is not ABC interpretation. It is rather Piers Arkeman of Daily Telegraph opinion. Controversy over two mums in the park which allegedly propagated lesbian lifestyle came from Howard's mouth.

What the problem is not about the hidden agenda or politically correct but it is rather perception of parents. It reflects the unreadiness of parents to deal with their kids' question about Black and lesbian lifestyle. Racism against Black has not became history and also misconception of same sex relationship is still worrying.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Confession and Past Crime

The last man they expected to have an SS secret
Günter Grass

It’s enough to make an old man cry. Just days before publication of his long-awaited autobiography entitled Peeling the Onion, Günter Grass, bleeding heart icon of the German left, has confessed he was once a member of the Nazi SS.

The revelation by the Nobel prize winner, now approaching his 80th birthday, has shocked Germany’s literary and cultural world. It was Grass first and foremost who insisted the Germans “come clean” about their history and that his own generation should not try to pose as “victims” of Hitler’s National Socialist ideology.

I was a bit shocked to read this article. It never comes across my mind that Gunter Grass was a member of the notoriously murderous Nazi apparatus SS. As i paved the way through, i become even more surprised. Reaction to his confession sounds even more naive although it is very understandable.

The end of World War II, which was marked by the defeat of German meant the end of Jews worse nightmare. Many stories then were unfolded, revealed poignantly the grief of survivors and others. Since then anything related to Nazism has been demonised. Unredeemable sin is perhaps a general judgement to those who were members of SS or Nazi. But this didn't acknowledge the intricacy of situation at that particular time. We still remember how the question of perpetrator motive led to a heated debate amongst historians, triggered by Goldhagen and Browning discussion.

It must had been hard for young people living under Nazi at that time. Its not a matter of being member of Nazi. Nor did hostility toward Hitler matter. The nature of totalitarianism was rather difficult to describe. Choices were indeed limited. Terror haunted every aspect of people life, even for Nazi member itself. Benevolence showed itself in a very discreet way. The mass murder of alleged communist supporters in 1965 tells a rather indifferent story. When terror was ubiquitous, manifest in various forms, it made choices very limited. Simply, people had to choose only two options: either kill or to be killed. To hate communist or to hate Jews or end up being murdered.

I presume it must be hard too for perpetrator to keep nightmares. Maybe it was something to be proud of for some. Some would prefer to keep silent. But when things changed and what it was believed to be true turn out false, the nightmares comes again. This time it is even more tangible. It comes through the sneer of people lips around them but also through deadlines in the morning newspaper.

The only option perhaps was hiding, running away from the past, and burrying it with new identity. The question is for how long they have to hide? As long as possible. Dishonesty is then considered a great saviour.

The other way of dealing with it is confession. But this is also problematic. When they confessed to their society about what actually happened and what role they played in such events, repercussion is inevitable, depends on the degree of crime they have committed. Through confession, they are trying to deal with their nightmares. Confessing also means a genuine acknowledgment that forgivness could be the only saviour.