Thursday, January 28, 2016

A kick in the araboolies

So (to begin in the fashionable way), I was observing a lad having a post-tantrum sulk out of class, and to be a little less obvious I picked up a book and pretended to read.

It was (and I'd never heard of it) "The Araboolies Of Liberty Street".

"You need a new DPF filter, mate!" (Pic source)

Published in 1989, Sam Swope's tale for tots promotes racial/cultural tolerance.

The Araboolies are a multicoloured family; even their individual members change hue regularly. Their house is a gaudy exception to the uniform Fifties-style US suburban residential zone of ticky-tacky dwellings and flowerless rectangular front lawns.

And General Pinch hates them. Like all military men, he is a stupid, choleric, fun-hating racist. He wants the Araboolies out, and he's prepared to tell the army (who "don't think, they only obey orders") to deport them.

I trust it won't spoil the tension of this story for you if I reveal that the tables are turned by a clever trick. The local residents all doll up their houses, leaving the Pinches' one as the exception, which the moronic soldiers dutifully tow away to nowhere.

Liberalism is good, though paradoxically (as I argued a few days ago) it is only made possible by limits. How far can we go in dealing with people whose opinions we don't like?

In the story, the Araboolies are playing a ball game outside; the ball crashes through General Pinch's window and bashes him in the stomach, sending him flying backwards. How we are supposed to laugh! Had it been written for older readers, perhaps he'd have got it lower down.

The children who had this kind of thing read to them grew up and went to college. Now they want to ban speeches by the feminist Germaine Greer and  pull down Cecil Rhodes' statue in order to erase Horrible History.

I don't know about America, but I grew up in a country that was tolerant without needing propaganda for infants. My teachers and classmates never teased me for wearing lederhosen to primary school in the Fifties. Despite having a Germanic forename,  I wasn't victimised for my European heritage in the Sixties - the occasional greeting of "'Itler" was only in jest, in the piss-taking and welcoming way of the British.

That was because my education was about learning things other than opinions.

Opinions are the hardest things to fight against. They grow like weeds in the mind. Facts, logic, experiences are what we need, and debate, always debate.


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Paddington said...

I was teased for wearing Lederhosen. In fact, my last primary teacher used to crack a ruler acros my thigh when I wore them, just for fun.

Paddington said...

As for the US, try being black, at least until fairly recently. You might be OK, if you 'knew your place', which included not even looking at white girls.

Sackerson said...

As far as schools are concerned, perhaps I was lucky - or you were unlucky to have a twisted b* for a teacher.

Re the racism, I was taken aback by the casual, open and unabashed form of it when I first visited Ohio. Oh, so that's what it's really like, was my feeling.

Paddington said...

Actually, we all loved him. Wing Commander from the Battle of Britain.

Sackerson said...

I stand corrected. I was using "teased" in the sense of being made to feel bad about oneself.