A Moderate Case of Synchronicity

David Schraub, my first stop for boneheaded political quotes, has an excellent heads up pointing to Trent Lott’s newest verbal derailment. Included is the fact that he doesn’t understand the problems in Iraq. CNN quotes him as saying “Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me.” This perhaps explains what passes for cultural issues in Lott’s home state Mississippi and why Lott supports Bush’s policies in Iraq.

Fortunately on the same day at the same blog – elrod does an excellent job of comparing a Washington Post article about the cultural subterfuge necessary at Iraqi checkpoints with something that might be near and dear to Senator Lott’s heart, the Civil War. Although the Post agrees with Senator Lott in describing the difficulties in identifying the religious groups –

For centuries, from the Ottoman Empire to the British-installed monarchy to the republic eventually ruled by Saddam Hussein, Sunnis were the elite who got the bulk of government jobs. Shiites, in Hussein’s time, were badly persecuted.

Yet in daily life hardly anyone cared about telling Sunnis and Shiites apart. It was considered rude to ask a person’s sect, and it is practically impossible to discern from their looks, speech or dress. For generations, the two sects intermarried, making it difficult to differentiate them by surnames. They attended the same schools and lived in mixed neighborhoods.

elrod points out the difficulties in identifying neutral civilians in a quite different Civil War

In a grounbreaking book on the guerrilla war in Missouri during the American Civil War, Michael Fellman identified the practice of neutral civilians telling different stories to different sides in guerrilla war as “survival lies.” Rural Missourians living amidst the daily conflict between pro-Confederate guerrillas or “bushwhackers” and pro-Union militiamen learned to tell compelling stories when each side inevitably paid a visit to the family farm.

Just a tip Senator Lott – start having your aides read The Moderate Voice. Then the methods for recognising all those pesky religious groups will be portioned in mental titbits even you or your speech writers can understand.

Did David Schraub and elrod get together to put up these posts? I don’t know but I suspect a modicum of synchronicity.

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