Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Critical Mom's Guide to Basic Geography, Bombers, and Basic History

How many of you out there can find India on a map?  How about Iran?  Iraq?  The Czech republic?  Too many can still find a country that no longer exists, Czechoslovakia.  Here is the Wikipedia definition of that former nation:  

Czechoslovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe that existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until its peaceful dissolution into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on 1 January 1993.

Ever since January, 1993, the same piece of earth has been peacefully divided between the Czech republic and Slovakia.

Some 2,000 miles away (that's 3,066.7 km) is Chechnya, and both that nation and the Czech republic start with a "ch,"as in "cheese," none of you should be smiling.  You should all invest in a globe and spin it every day, letting your finger land on a country and remembering which one it is, where you found it, and what other countries surround it.

After that, consider planet Earth from the perspective of an astronaut heading back from the moon.  Earth is tiny.  Okay, not the smallest planet out there, but anything but big.  Let's not magnify differences between different countries and different nations, let's not tar all Chechens with the brush of the accused brothers.

Besides, although the accused bombers have expressed an allegiance to Chechnya,they did not actually grow up in that country.  They grew up in Kyrgyzstan, a former republic of the Soviet Union, in a town called Tokmok, where many Chechens lived.  The family left Krygyzstan and moved to the Republic of Dagestan, in the North Caucasus region (get out that globe, and while you are spinning it, remember that the Czech Republic is way far away in Central Europe).

In 2002, the family came to Cambridge, Mass. as refugees.

You want to blame somebody?  Don't blame the Chechens, and don't blame the Czechs.  Do take a tour through the past, when, after September 11, 2001, anybody who appeared to be ethnically Arab (and that included persons of Central American, Native American, and Japanese descent) got brutally attacked.  Before that, in the hysteria following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Japanese Americans (and sometimes even Chinese Americans, or anyone deemed to be of Japanese descent) got herded into internment camps in the deserts and deserted places of Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah.  Before all that came Cotton Mather asking "What Must I Do To Be Saved?" in a sermon that threatened hellfire and damnation, fueled the emotions generating the Salem Witch Trials of colonial America, and generally set a pattern for bad behavior.

We haven't come a long way from Cotton Mather.  But we could at least learn some geography.

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