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Old 12-17-2011, 09:47 PM   #31
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Where is all the little people outrage?
Well, there was no Atlantic slave trade in midgets (properly, actual "little people"). And conventional visual representations of "elves" aren't noticeably based on a known historical tradition of representing midgets as stupid, bestial and ugly.

I get that cultural context matters, that said, there's no mistaking that the (present-day) standard appearance of this character is based on the blackface/minstrelsy tradition.
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Old 12-17-2011, 09:55 PM   #32
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This is actually an interesting point. Where is all the little people outrage?
Especially those with the pointy ears...
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:11 PM   #33
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Were they? Though this is part of folklore and with time less and less is known of the origin, I had never heard the African slave explanation. There is a legend regarding Saint Nicholas who, as the bishop of Myra (Turkey), freed an Ethopian slave who in gratitude became his helper.

The other explanation is that, nowaday, the story for the kids is that Sinterklaas is coming over from Madrid by steamboat (which is impossible as Madrid doesn't have a river fit for big boats). Historically though there are no ties between Saint Nicholas and Madrid as far as I know, though there are several locations in the center of Madrid which refer to Saint Nicholas. For the Madrid story the explanation for the Zwarte Pieten is that they are his Moorish helpers, which is also suggested by their dress style. And in the Middle Ages the Moors did occupy Spain. So the Zwarte Pieten (or rather, Piet, as originally there was only one servant/assistant) were not historically slaves, but part of the ruling class in Spain.
Well said.


Besides this, I find it quite hilarious that there's such a huge outrage here about Sinterklaas. It makes me wonder if our American friends here are actually aware where their Santa Claus came from.
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:14 PM   #34
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I tried to say that Americans are much more sensitive to such topics, and what in European societies may not have such a racial connotation, and is not deemed offensive by either group, may be viewed entirely different in the US.
Yup. I'm not sure how much Americans realize that their outlook on race is pretty much entirely...well, "American." All those centuries of baggage with slavery, segregation and their legacy on the African-American communities today are not universally experienced. For example, Canadian blacks, generally speaking, reject the term "African-American" because it has too many ties to a U.S.-centric cultural experience that they do not identify with. Instead, they prefer "Black Canadians" to cover the fact that most blacks here more culturally self-identify as "Caribbean," instead of African.

I'd entirely understand why Americans would find that imagery offensive on the basis of U.S. history, but getting all "outraged" isn't going to accomplish anything, and if Dutch blacks are offended--and I really don't know one way or the other--then I'd leave it to their communities and cultural leaders to instigate the necessary changes. It's really none of our business, frankly.
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:36 PM   #35
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I think it's even quite paternalistic (or patronizing?) to decide for others what is acceptable and what is not. It's not like the Dutch or Belgian society is entirely and unknowingly racist, but the difference is whilst blackface in the US has a certain history in movies and culture which is racist, this entire history is not shared by either Belgians nor Dutch, as far as I know. And as such, they look at Zwarte Pieten without the mental image that an American would have.
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:46 PM   #36
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It's really none of our business, frankly.
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:52 PM   #37
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I think it's even quite paternalistic (or patronizing?) to decide for others what is acceptable and what is not. It's not like the Dutch or Belgian society is entirely and unknowingly racist, but the difference is whilst blackface in the US has a certain history in movies and culture which is racist, this entire history is not shared by either Belgians nor Dutch, as far as I know. And as such, they look at Zwarte Pieten without the mental image that an American would have.
From my experience people in Europe have a greater understanding of who they are possibly from living in close proximity to each other. It no different to slag another ethnic group as it is to slag another football team. In jest. When one has a solid foundation of who they are there is no reason to 'rescue the plight of others'.

If this conversation were raised during dinner conversation, one possible answer might be 'what concern is of it yours'? Culture plays a big role in keeping keeping ethnic groups and identities strong. That is why in some European circles, there are strains of anti-Americanism whose culture has been criticized as all-pervasive and domineering.

Maybe Holland isn't the one to answer things. Maybe it is the US, with its over-sensitivity to its own racial history and the continual fallout that seem to plague it in the 21st century. (see Herman Cain)
If not the 21st century, American identity politics surely does dominate the 'FYM' forums and CNN headlines.
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:57 PM   #38
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Well, there was no Atlantic slave trade in midgets (properly, actual "little people"). And conventional visual representations of "elves" aren't noticeably based on a known historical tradition of representing midgets as stupid, bestial and ugly.

I get that cultural context matters, that said, there's no mistaking that the (present-day) standard appearance of this character is based on the blackface/minstrelsy tradition.
I was mostly playing devil's advocate, but I still do think there's something there. It's not completely fair that a group of people have to have had great historical hardships inflicted on them in order to qualify for protection from perceived offenses. I'm sure you could a host of other 'offensive' material in childrens books, movies, etc that marginalize people with various genetic abnormalities. That said, I don't really feel strongly either way and am mostly just typing whatever gobbledygook pops into my head, so we probably don't need to discuss this part any further
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:02 PM   #39
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Maybe Holland isn't the one to answer things. Maybe it is the US, with its over-sensitivity to its own racial history and the continual fallout that seem to plague it in the 21st century. (see Herman Cain)
If not the 21st century, American identity politics surely does dominate the 'FYM' forums and CNN headlines.
What does Herman Cain have to do with this?
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:10 PM   #40
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His claims that the ridicule he receives has nothing to do with his ignorance and stupidity, but is because he's black
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:16 PM   #41
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What does Herman Cain have to do with this?
As an outsider looking in, Herman Cain seems to be steeped in identity politics. I am not sure America could get around that. Recently in the Huckabee discussion, someone said, "good ole boys from the South don't become President." So I am not sure where that leaves Herman Cains chances.
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:24 PM   #42
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As an outsider looking in, Herman Cain seems to be steeped in identity politics.
No his problem was ignorance and poor decision making.
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:30 PM   #43
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Are you referring to his decision-making regarding Sharon Bialek?
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:34 PM   #44
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Are you referring to his decision-making regarding Sharon Bialek?
Um, no... for we don't know everything for certain about that situation. Although the parts he admits to showed some poor decision making as well.

I'm talking about his poor decision making with Ginger White, his ads, his 999 plan, his constantly going out to foreign policy debates knowing he didn't know shit... and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Your premise that Cain was sandbagged due to race is ridiculous.
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:40 PM   #45
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I was just postulating. Maybe the country needs a real hands-on guy with a different attitude?
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