For You Were Strangers in the Land of Egypt: Preparing for a Century of Displacement

Passover is a holiday deeply concerned with inclusion - at one point during each seder night, we open our doors and leave them open wide, and call out "let all who are hungry come and eat." One year, teaching Hebrew School to 10 year olds, I asked them what would happen if they called out and a stranger came in and sat down. My students, largely from affluent and middle families in a leafy suburb where most strangers are likely to be much like them, were to a one deeply uncomfortable with the notion. They expressed fear at the thought of the stranger coming to their table, even surrounded by family members. These are children who have been raised with the notion that strangers are risky, that hospitality is something you offer mostly to people like yourself. We talked a long time in that class about why that was - about why it is that we mostly opened doors to people like ourselves, and why we fear the stranger, when we are specifically ordered not to.

At Passover, we recount the story of Jews living as "strangers" in the land of Egypt - as oppressed and unwelcome people. And we tell the story not just of the departure, but of becoming refugees. Most Haggadot (the ritual volume that tells the story) do not use the word "refugee" and yet that's precisely what someone who must abandon their homes and all they have known to escape difficulties is. We were refugees that time - and the Jews were refugees again and again and again through history - my husband's family can track back generations of refugees. They ran from Spain from the Inquisition to Brazil and Russia, they ran from Russia into Poland and Wales, they ran from Germany to England, to Portugal, to Denmark, and finally to the US. Each of those stories, old and new gets told back and is a reminder that for thousands of years your ancestors stood outside waiting for someone to call "let those who are hungry come and eat."

One of the central pieces of the Passover story, then, which is so important we tell it twice, on two separate nights, is this - you were a refugee, and you should know what it is like. And you must remember those who are still strangers, who are still seeking refuge. You must open your doors to them - for real. If we do not, we face the possibility of condemning a world of refugees to death.

This remembering, acknowledging, welcoming becomes more urgent in this century, as we now face a world with more refugees than ever in human history. In 2001, for the first time in human memory we had more refugees of natural disasters than war - a dubious milestone. By 2050, under high emissions scenarios (and these are the ones we must presume most likely, given that we're doing pretty much nothing to reduce emissions) the IPCC predicts up to 150 MILLION climate refugees. There will be more people on the move than ever before in this century.

Some of them may be you and your neighbors - as Joseph Romm points out no nation in the world has so much wealth along its coastlines, and the combination of that and rising temperatures in the hottest and dryest parts of the US mean that we are likely to see massive shifts in patterns of settlement within the US. But the vast majority of climate refugees will be women and children from the poor world. They will flood over borders and into camps, they will attempt to migrate into countries that seem safer. And we will struggle with the question of how to feed and care for them. We will struggle with our fear of refugees and immigrants, and our sense that there are too many of them and not enough of us. We will probably use those fears to justify our actions.

We will worry about floods of "them" disrupting our society, about the possibility of violence from outsiders. We will probably ignore the fact that statistically speaking, refugees are far more vulnerable to violence than they are likely to be perpetrators of it. We will ignore our role in making the lands people inhabited uninhabitable and then complain that we don't have space for them. I do not claim that these issues are easy to resolve - but I do think it is important to realize the degree to which our fear of the stranger in our lands shapes our thinking, helps naturalize our sense that we cannot help, that we cannot really invite them in to eat.

It is an old story - all our fears about decline and change center on the fear of the other, on the terror of the stranger. Read a novel about any disaster and there's always them. And in the novels there is always that critical moment when our heroes have the moral right to turn away the stranger because they *know* with an absolute certainty that they cannot share, that there will never be enough.

We know that this gets enacted in our real policies and actions - our sense of anticipatory scarcity drives us to look and say there is not enough. We know that this happened after Hurricane Katrina, when stories of murder and mayhem by victims emerged, demonizing the refugees again, causing people to take up arms rather than go out and help. They were false stories, of course. But the fear was real.

During the great depression, thousands of young men and women took the rails because they were hungry and had no jobs. While they did occasionally commit acts of violence and fairly often stole small amounts of food, generally speaking, these young people were much more likely to be abused than to do serious harm. Crime rates actually declined during the Depression. They were thrown out of towns with no food into the cold, because the law said no one who didn't live there could have the sun go down on them. They were raped and beaten up by other refugees and by locals. They were thrown in jail and set on chain gangs for the offense of being homeless. Writing about it later, many of them told stories of going to soup lines and being cast out hungry - because the town said that there was nothing for anyone but their own. A young man tells a story in David Shannon's _The Great Depression_ of travelling all winter through the midwest without a coat of any kind, and visiting, in each town, relief services and asking if anyone could give him a coat. He never got one.

Now it is possible that none of these places had a coat to give. It is possible that adding one more bone and two more potatoes to the soup pot would mean someone's child died of hunger. But I think more likely, what happens is that when things get hard for us, we often panic - we look at what we have and we see all the terrible things that could happen - and so, we hold hard onto what we have, regardless of the consequences to others. Unlike the novels, we'll probably never know for sure that we'll always have enough - there isn't any way to be sure, sometimes, whether there will be more tomorrow or not. So how do we know whether to share or not, whether to greet the stranger with a gun or a plate? How do we know, if things change and the world seems uncertain, how to respond to one another?

Well, the world was once much poorer than we are, and across the world, a surprisingly universal awareness of how important generosity and hospitality were emerged. We in America are richer than the kings of old in many ways, and instead of making us less fearful, more generous, our wealth has made us more afraid of scarcity. My faith, and every single other religion, culture and ethical system I've ever heard of, though, tells the story of the stranger in disguise. The stranger who appears in the form of someone desperately poor and in need, and who turns out to be a god, or an angel, a king or a hero in disguise. Those who turn the stranger away are punished. Those who welcome them in are rewarded.

In Judaism, it is Elijah who walks the world in the form of a stranger. And at this season of the year, at Pesach, just as the first new foods are coming, but before we are overwhelmed with plenty, we are to open our doors and call out that all who are hungry should come and eat. Because the stranger might be Elijah - because hospitality to the stranger is an obligation. Because we were strangers before in the Land of Egypt. At this point and this moment, we are obligated to share - before we know the final accounting of the harvest, before plenty is certain, we should still share - because the stranger may welcome us someday. Because we too may be the stranger.

I'm not arguing against prudence and care, or that we will always have enough to give away. But we are rich now, and yet our obligation to welcome the stranger, to share the best we have emerged before we were rich, when we were poor. We should recognize that sharing is not a natural outcome of wealth - which seems to make us greedier, but one of the best strategies for dealing with poverty. It is strategy for survival, for a meaningful future. When we naturalize the idea that we cannot share, when we assume that because our wealth has declined we cannot open our hands we forget that open hands are part and parcel of a decent life in poverty.

Joetta Handrich Schlabach, writing in _Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook_ (a wonderful book) writes of a story a friend of hers who was visiting Lesotho. She visited a friend 'Me Malebohang. They discussed the bad pumpkin harvest, and how 'Me Malebohang had only 8 pumpkins for the whole winter. As the friend got up to leave, 'Me Malebohang offered her guest the largest of the pumpkins. When the guest refused, saying she couldn't take one of her pumpkins, 'Me Malabohang answered, "We Basotho know that this is the way to do it. Next year I may have nothing in my field, and if I don't share with you now, who will share with me then?"

Jews have been strangers many, many times, and have incurred a special obligation to welcome others. But it is not an obligation exclusive to Jews - all of us in the developed world have participated in making the world less habitable to others. As we work to make the disasters we face smaller, to adapt to having less ourselves, we must also work to open our hands, to show greater generosity. The future, with all its difficulties, means that none of us can be certain that we will remain priveleged and comfortable. You can prepare perfectly and still lose your home, you can do everything right and have bad things befall you. There are things we cannot control. So each of us must live in the world as though we will someday be the stranger who turns to another for a hand. And each of us must be willing to offer one, if we expect to receive it.

This is much more risky than greeting the hungry with violence, or indifference. It is frightening. It is hard. What if the stranger who comes in to the door is angry, or smelly, or frightening? What if, despite our best rational precautions, harm is done? But then again, what if *we* do harm to an innocent other by allowing our fear to shape
our thinking too much? And what if the stranger at our doorstep is Elijah, come for his glass of wine, his plate of food, and to see if we have the courage of those who came before us, the courage to make a future?

Chag Sameach, good holidays to all of you who are celebrating anything in this season!


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This is beautiful. Thank you.

By @IdealistNYC (not verified) on 29 Mar 2010 #permalink

Greet the stranger with a plate, but keep your weapon handy.

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 29 Mar 2010 #permalink

I spent some time in South Africa and I was taken aback by the generosity of people who had nothing on several ocassions. Nothing else I want to add except, great piece.

I have also had the experience of being offered food by total strangers who possessed, by my standards, virtually nothing. One man only shared cups of hot water because he had no tea to offer, the usual custom in his area. Another woman, who clearly had no other food available, once invited me and several local colleagues to sit outside her home and share boiled cassava root. I was struck by how generously she shared her meager resources, while I, who have so much more, would never dream of bringing a stranger home to sit on my porch and eat dinner. My food storage is limited, but I am determined that if there is any crisis extending beyond my family, it will NOT just be for us: we will share with those around us whom we see to be in need, and if that means we end up going hungry a little sooner, so be it. At least we will have hung onto our humanity.

Would it be too pedantic to mention that, so far as historians and archaeologists can determine, there is no evidence whatsoever that the Hebrew tribe ever inhabited early Egypt, and that the whole Exodus story seems to be a complete fabrication? It would be? Oh well, too late now.

See, e.g., Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts and Richard Elliott Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible?.


By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 29 Mar 2010 #permalink

I completely agree with you, Noah. What you say explains the current lack of demand for access to the literature. I wonder if science journalism of tomorrow will still be that way? If the current trend of slashing university jobs continues in the face of rising numbers of students, there will be ever increasing competition for the few remaining jobs. In this not very unlikely not-too-distant future scenario of overwhelming pressure to hype any small advance, will journalists still be the willing enablers of hype?
Of course, that scenario doesn't have to materialize, but right now you don't need to be an Einstein to extrapolate the figures...

Pierce - Gasp! You mean everything in the Bible isn't literally true...Omigosh, you've just rocked my world. Oh wait, no you haven't - because I'm not a Biblical literalist. Nearly every moderately literate student of the Torah knows all of this. Most stories even of the much more recent past are substantially historically inaccurate as well - virtually all the history you were taught was telling it slant. That doesn't make all stories valueless, it just means that material history and the stories we tell of our culture don't always match up fully - which is true of well...everything.

Gonna tell me there's no tooth fairy next?


Thank you for an inspiring piece. It touched my heart and reminded me that at times we need to step beyond our fears with kindness. That is what love truly is. Again, thank you.

By Susan in Virginia (not verified) on 29 Mar 2010 #permalink

I read once, years ago, that the word for 'stranger' in many ancient languages, is one and the same with the word for 'enemy'. It made such a powerful impression on me that it has stayed with me every since. The implications for inviting a stranger/enemy to your table, to share in your sustenance and be therefore vulnerable in front of them, are quite powerful.

Your essays on Judaism are endlessly fascinating for me. I find it amazing that it takes someone who is a convert, an outsider, so to speak, to give modern meaning to those ancient stories.

Sharon, you mean that bats aren't birds, rabbits - or rock hyraxes - aren't ruminants, insects don't have four legs, snakes don't eat dirt and donkeys & snakes can't talk? Learn something new every day... ;)

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 29 Mar 2010 #permalink

I spent some time in South Africa and I was taken aback by the generosity of people who had nothing on several ocassions. Nothing else I want to add except, great piece

Thank you for an inspiring piece. It touched my heart and reminded me that at times we need to step beyond our fears with kindness. That is what love truly is. Again, thank you.

Thank you - that's a really thought-provoking piece. I wasn't aware of the Jewish tradition of welcoming the stranger, or that Elijah could be that stranger. In the Christian tradition there are a lot of stories of the saints giving away food or clothing to a beggar who turns out to be Christ- particularly St Martin who cuts his cloak in half. And of course Jesus and his family were refugees, fleeing into Egypt to escape the persecution of Herod.

And, for a more immediate story of the benefits of opening your hearts to refugees: some years ago a Sudanese refugee family moved into my parents' very white, middle-class street, so my mother did what she always does with new neighbours and took over a cake and some sweets for the kids. Later, she helped the family to learn to read in English. Some years on, and my parents, who are now elderly and unwell, regularly come home to find their lawn mown and the leaves raked by the teenage boys across the road.


Thank you for the story, and the lesson.

Seth Godin recently commented on tithing, on knowing "this isn't much, but it is enough". I see a parallel with the "open the door" invitation - you are offering what has been prepared for that meal. If others join the table, any extra that was prepared would be doled out, and if not enough I imagine that everyone's portions would be adjusted to share the gift (of welcoming others to the table), and of the bounty of food. That is, the gesture is sincere and not just symbolic, that everyone's portion might be taken up in offering food to others, but there is nothing said about future meals or stores being included in the invitation. When what is prepared is gone, each depends on themselves, strangers and family alike.

The other examples of sharing, I think, are being interpreted in an interesting fashion. I think the pumpkins or cassava root are seen by Westerners as "assets", and thus to be carefully husbanded. This makes the generosity and gifting something marvelous. But the stories seem to reveal that the giver instead considers community and interpersonal exchanges and interdependencies as the "asset" to be nourished. This may be a cultural legacy of generations of marginal food and other necessities, or possibly lack of exposure to decadent "formal economy" style affluence.

Just as there are stories of those with little sharing with others, there are stories of "primitive" people looking with pity on Americans, living within walking distance (say, a couple miles) of someone that they don't know, don't know their parents and children, don't know their work and rising habits, don't know their dreams and character. Sharing the best pumpkin, when we measure the world in cash, might seem saintly, or possibly foolish. But measuring the world in personal ties and benefit to community, it might be as expected as paying for your order at the fast food place.

Thanks, again.

Gonna tell me there's no tooth fairy next?

Why would I get so strident as to push the militant afairyist line?

Once upon a time, I even had hard evidence of the TF's existence - but I spent it...

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 29 Mar 2010 #permalink

Oh Sharon.
"By the waters of Babylon, where we lay down, and there we wept, as we remembered Zion. Oh, they carried us away into captivity, and required of us a song. How can we sing our sacred song in a strange land? So let the words out of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, over All."

"There is room for you at the table here, if you would like to join us."

Beautiful. Beautiful. ... Exactly why I am living.

Another Jewish (and Quaker, Pagan) heart. Sara

By Sara Rose (not verified) on 29 Mar 2010 #permalink

Brad K - That's very insightful. A lot of us don't even know our next-door neighbors' names, which is an unimaginable situation in most places. Likewise, here in America we have displaced older workers living in homeless camps because they don't want to burden their children, while to most people, the idea of leaving your closest family to fend for themselves would be literally unthinkable. It's perhaps no wonder that many of the world's "poor" rate themselves as much happier than Americans do. They may envy our stuff, but there is not much to envy about our social relationships.

Excellent post! I'm always interested in your Jewish postings, mostly because I don't know much about it. Since I've been learning more though, I've found that a lot of Jewish customs really have a direct real-world meaning to them, even if it is symbolic. I had an aspect of kosher explained in this way to me, that it wasn't appropriate to drink milk and eat meat together because it didn't demonstrate respect/knowledge that the animal could only give milk if you kept it alive. It's a respect for life thing, not a "magical sky wizard will condemn me" thing. Someone explained the loaves and fishes to me in this way once, that the real "miracle" was that everyone shared their own food, not that Jesus made more food. Of course, this was the minority opinion in my christian education growing up, most christians I knew preferred Magic Jesus to self-sacrifice and helping the poor (because as Glenn Beck taught us, you shouldn't mix social justice and religion). Posts like this do help me understand why someone observes these traditions, even if I left belief in the supernatural when I stopped wearing footie pajamas.

By Rob Monkey (not verified) on 30 Mar 2010 #permalink

I surely hope you are correct in all respect. Unfortunately the enormous recent growth in "patriot" and Christian Identity militia groups in recent years--note news reports about the arrests of the "Huttaree" band in Michigan-- may give us a taste of what awaits as the unravelling continues.

By jay moses (not verified) on 30 Mar 2010 #permalink

This is one of the things I love most about you Sharon. I can get peak oil preps from a lot of places but you write about it with the care of humanity on your mind. Your generosity and desire for people to put away their fears and open their arms is why I read you every day!

Jews have ruined the USA. I would not get to comfortable if I were a jew. Jew bankers took the bailout and jew media is lying to us daily.

The USA looks exactly like Wiemar Germany right now.

Get ready to reap the worldwind you racist jew.

By Scott Mollett (not verified) on 30 Mar 2010 #permalink

"The USA looks exactly like Wiemar (sic) Germany right now."

This much of your hateful post I can agree with, Scott.

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 30 Mar 2010 #permalink

Anyone want to borrow my troll gun?

The first paragraph proves Sharons racism. Non jews from the suburbs would be afraid of strangers but jews welcome them with open arms. What BS.

Jews are thieving murderers. Ask any Palistinian.

Jews are refugees because jew bankers keep ripping everyone off in the countries that accept them. The jewish holy books are all diatribes to jewish supremacy. Most of their holidays involve jews celebrating their murder and theft of others for their property. The dispensations were written in modern times and you would have to look hard for a more racist set of ideals.

Go and look at Sharons comment sections. She must have told people a hundred times to make sure you pay the banker.

It is long past time for this crap to stop. Jews are 2.5% of the citizens of the USA yet because they control our money creation scheme they control 35 to 40% of the wealth. Blacks and latinos together make up 33% of the citizens yet only control 1% of the wealth. It does not take a genius to figure why minorities do so badly in the USA. Jew owned media tells us whites are racists and brown people are criminals on a daily basis.

Google Israel Shahak he will tell you how religous jews like Sharon really view you. All jews are racist. If they are not racist they renounce Judaism. This is a fact. If the holy books are racist than the people who revere them are racist too. Not one non jew I have met who has lookied into this situation with an open mind has failed to come to the same conclusion as I have.

The jews have beggared the US minorities and now they can't help ripping off the rest of us. Jews defend the bankers because they know that in a trickle down society like the USA jew banker crimes benefit them. Hence sharons oft-repeated treatise that we all pay the bankers. Disgusting.

By Scott Mollett (not verified) on 30 Mar 2010 #permalink

Doggone but don't those little niggling parasites bother a body? Odd, too, how many of them got together to keyboard two almost literate posts. Wow.

Sharon, thank you.

Chocolate mint cheesecake:

Line a 10 inch pan with waxed paper or aluminum foil, with long pieces hanging over the edges. Preheat oven to 400F.

20-26 chocolate wafer cookies, made into crumbs
1/2 stick butter
3 tbsp. sugar
Blend together and press into the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

1 lb. softened cream cheese (can be half cream cheese half blenderized cottage cheese for lowfat if you prefer, but it won't be as dense)
1/2 c. sugar
3-4 eggs (4 if they are pullet or bantam eggs)
2 tbsp. flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/2 c. sour cream (can be yogurt for lowfat)
mint extract to taste, about 1/2 tsp.
Blend all these together until nice and smooth. Pour into the prepared crust.

Put the pan in the oven. After 15 minutes, turn the heat back to 325F. After 45 minutes, turn the oven off and let the oven sit with the door shut overnight. Next day, put the pan in the fridge to chill. Use the waxed paper/foil to lift the cake out of the pan. Nice with fresh raspberries.

I don't ever think I've read such a virulent outpouring of hatred on a blog as Scott's comments (and maybe that just means I read the right kind of blogs). But I feel that Lora's cheesecake recipe provides some kharmic balance. In an attempt to continue tipping the balance, symbolically at least, I shall spend time over the Easter holidays making cheesecake for my Jewish friends and acquaintances. Since Scott's not close by to get some cheesecake, he shall get prayers for peace.

he fear of the stranger is not just fear of harm but a cultural shyness. People from different groups have different habits, values, and manners of speech. What I consider being polite or kind can be taken as an insult, and often is. I taught at an inner city school fresh out of ritzy prep school and college and was horrified at how my innocent words, movements, and clothing insulted the students. Our values clashed many times. They hated me for my desire to teach them. They wanted me to just go away. I cried myself to sleep every night. As time went on I became aware of the time and effort that went into public school systems to mediate group differences and realized that I had not gotten a real community education. Through public school teaching I am more at ease with preteens and teenagers of most backgrounds than most people are, but I am still struggling with and insulting other demographics. I wish I had had a chance to learn how to manage group differences in highschool when I was more absorbent. This is a problem not only for the private-school educated, but for todays homeschoolers. We tend to stick with our own and self righteously try to pull others into our lifestyles and values. After all, we're "better" than they are, so they must want to learn how to be "us". They don't. My most valuable [and painful] lesson in teaching or helping is shut up. Talk about only what I am there to teach or help with. Otherwise, let them be. That's called respect.

Good post Ann. When I first started teaching it was at a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school on the Navajo Reservation. I was hired to teach 6th, 7th & 8th grade science & health. Since I'd done my student teaching at the high school level, this age group was a challenge for me. And talk about a cultural difference! I'd grown up under the impression that to not look someone in the eye, for instance, was shifty. To the Navajo, direct eye contact is considered very rude. Over the years I moved on to teaching a self-contained 2nd thru 8th grade gifted & talented class, and eventually became academic department head & then principal. That multi-grade G&T class was probably the most fun I ever had teaching! My kids grew up among the Dine' and suffered a lot of racism & abuse. It made them tough & self-reliant, and good fighters. Eventually I went back to grad school in an ecology & evolution program, & taught at the college level. Now I'm involved in agricultural research & no longer teach. I look back on teaching fondly but at this stage of my life, and under the current political climate, I don't think that I want to teach again.

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 31 Mar 2010 #permalink

Two decades ago Scott Mollett's posts would have filled me with gut busting white hot indignation and rage.

I think it is nice that his sort of 1950s wonder bread cul-de-sac antisemitism now has all the emotional force and effect of seeing some guy wearing spats in line at the bank.

It triggers a "Huh. What is the deal with that?"

So meh. Scott Mollett can Kish mir en toches.

Meanwhile, *an historian enters*


While the original post is lovely and well composed Pierce R. Butler did ask for forgiveness in making a pedantic point and you responded with sarcasm to your guest/stranger.

I think the passover/exodus story is fascinating and contains many layers of important value lessons.

I also think that perpetuating it without the caveat that it is a historical fable constructed to contain those lessons has caused a host of problems for Jews, Christians, Muslims, historians,and just about everybody else excepting of course Cecil B.DeMille and the theatrical sandal trade.

On a more fertile topic...

I was trying to think of a successful culture that didn't have a myth/fable involving overcoming the defensive instinct and offering hospitality to strangers.

I'm drawing a blank.

I had an old SE Asian studies prof that theorized that without a reputation for hospitality your community would lose trade and news of the world when gossip and barter were a life or death proposition.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 31 Mar 2010 #permalink

"I was trying to think of a successful culture that didn't have a myth/fable involving overcoming the defensive instinct and offering hospitality to strangers."

Juh's people, the Southern Chiricahua Apache of the Sierra Madre Occidental. They called themselves "NdéâindaaÃ" which translates as "Enemy People" or "Enemies of Everybody." They made war even on other bands of the Chiricahua. After Victorio was killed these people reluctantly and temporarily offered refuge to the surviving remnant of the Warm Springs band but usually they killed anyone who wasn't a member of their immediate group.

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 31 Mar 2010 #permalink

I'm guessing that Prometheus will come back and ask how successful this group of people can have been, since all their neighbors probably righteously hated them.

The Enemy People are culturally extinct today, dewey, so in that sense they were ultimately "unsuccessful." However, they were never defeated militarily and there were still Bronco Apaches in the mountains living in a traditional way in the 1930s. As the older people died out the younger generation took jobs as vaqueros on Mexican ranches and became assimilated into Mestizo society, or joined other Apache bands on reservations in the United States. So they may be extinct as a culture but aren't genetically extinct.

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 31 Mar 2010 #permalink

What fascinating posts. I was truly shocked at Scott Mollett's racism. I guess racism is the correct word here. However, all the references to this post have brought up some incredibly interesting dialog. So, I am truly fascinated by what has unfolded in this process and am currently trying to assimilate this and better understand it.

By Susan in Virginia (not verified) on 31 Mar 2010 #permalink

Probably better not to refer to the troll by that name (if we must refer to it at all); that may well be the name of the troll's ex-boss or brother-in-law.

Dewey @ #34

"I'm guessing that Prometheus will come back and ask how successful this group of people can have been, since all their neighbors probably righteously hated them."

Close. I was going to ask darwinsdog if that is really a culture or a clan.

I know some generally crappy and homicidal extended, well?

I would be inclined to develop some hypothesis about an exemption of cultures under constant siege but it would seem the need for trade and intelligence would be greater.

Now I've just confused myself again.


I blame the jews.

By Prometheus (not verified) on 31 Mar 2010 #permalink

Really good discussion folks, obviously excepting the obvious ;-). Sarah, I'm with you - I think the balance of cheesecake and anti-semitism are pretty good.

Prometheus and Pierce - I'm sorry if my sarcasm came out harsher than it was intended to - I was trying to hit the same approximate tone as Pierce, sort of drying facetious, and maybe went wrong. I didn't mean to sound hostile.

Ann, yours is a good and important point - thank you for making it.


Prometheus, the Enemy People were considered the southern band of the Chiricahua, along with the central band which was Cochise's people in Arizona's Chiricahua & Dragoon Mountains, and the eastern band in New Mexico's Black Range. Each band spoke it's own dialect of the Chiricahua language. The Chiricahua had a clan structure and each band was composed of several clans. Religious beliefs & material culture between the bands were similar but each had their idiosyncrasies. Perhaps these three bands could best be considered geographical variants of the same tribe, or incipient tribes in the offing. The eastern & central bands were more hospitable, at least towards other Apachean speaking peoples, including the Navajo, but the Enemy People fought against everyone. They were greatly feared & hated by Spanish speaking Mejicanos, the Opata & Tarahumara, and other Apache groups alike. They took refuge in the great barrancas that drain the western slope of the Sierra Madre Occidental, which is some of the most rugged terrain on Earth. For a commander of a Chihuahuan or Sonoran militia to order his men to chase the Enemy People into their mountain strongholds was to consign his command to death. These were the people you never fired your last round at during a gunfight because if they took you alive, you would wish that you hadn't.

By darwinsdog (not verified) on 01 Apr 2010 #permalink

Sharon - no apologies needed. With some of us, the best protocol, as you intended, is not to adopt "proper" manners.

In an excess of which spirit I'm probably - certainly, in some people's eyes - going to skate even closer to, or beyond, the brink by noting that it was recently brought to my goyish attention that this year, by an eerie coincidence, Palestinian Land Day fell on the first day of Passover. (Which I beg everybody not to interpret as any kind of endorsement of Mollett's malicious message: pls note that the link is pro-Semitic, in the widest sense, and even somehow slightly hopeful.)

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 02 Apr 2010 #permalink

with our fear of refugees and immigrants, and our sense that there are too many of them and not enough of us. We will probably use those fears to justify our actions.