May 27, 2005, 9:37 AM
Post #1 of 37
I saw something most disturbing on the CNN morning news program today and, while the reported event had to do with Indonesia and Australia, it reminded me so much of the attitudes of many nortenos visiting or living in Mexico that I felt I should alert those of you who missed the widely televised event so you can observe this extraordinary example of the arrogance of white people from economically advanced nations when confronted with the realities of life in lesser developed countries.
This young Australian woman was apprehended trying to smuggle 4.5 kilos of marijuana in Bali, normally a death penalty offense in Indonesia and the court in Bali had just handed down a 20 year prison sentence for her much to her shock, cloaked, as she thought, in the security of her white skin. She claimed that the marijuana was secreted in her luggage by someone else but that is beside my point since I am not arguing the merits of the case here.
The courtroom in Bali was packed with a large number of Australian whites and, when the sentence was handed down they went into a loud and entirely disrespectful rage bordering on a riot in the courtroom while court was still in session. They were indignant that an Indonesian court had dared to apply the law regarding drug smuggling to an Australian and they were screaming with indignation at the judge and insulting him. I have never observed such wild and inappropriate behavior in a courtroom and still do not know why the judge didn't throw them all in the slammer for contempt of court.
While a young man, I had the privilege of traveling about a number of third world countries and I had some hairy moments in Africa including nearly being shot for simply looking at the presidential palace in Zanzibar which was a maoist dictatorship in those days. There is one thing I learned then that has stayed with me all these years and that is that you never get anywhere in any country by disrespecting that country's laws and institutions and, by inference, its people and mores. And, it matters not that those laws and institutions do not suit your sense of fairness.
More than that however, since, when in Africa, I was young and poor and living in tents at game reserves and Salvation Army hostiles or YMCAs when the cities, I observed the way relatively rich white people, whether tourists, colonial hangers-on or aid workers treated the local people as they were chauffeured at breakneck speed through local villages on their way to the exclusive (and exclusionary) game lodges to observe local wildlife while sipping their Uganda Waragis brought them by a local African dressed to the nines in his house servant best going "Another Waragi, bwana?". These people, rich tourist and aid worker alike, treated Africans the same way we treated black Americans in the 1950s in my native Alabama - as our personal and somewhat quaint servants to be pitied and used rather than respected.
I'll tell you that if I were that judge and had been inclined toward eventual leniency, after the disgraceful display of arrogance by the Australians, I would be inclined to give no quarter.
Now, I don't mean to infer that Mexico is similar to either Indonesia or Zanzibar. I am talking about arrogant white people here. However, we can learn from this ocurrence. Those of you enjoying the kindness of the Mexican people please try to catch a glimpse of this event and maybe you, as I, will experience an epiphany and be reminded to try to deport yourself respectfully while a guest here.
White people from the United States were afforded protection by that status when I was in Africa in the 1960s but those days are over. Despite what one may think, not everyone worships your dollar.
I feel sorry for the young Australian woman but Indonesia does seem to have one thing in common with Mexico. You will get nowhere screaming at and insulting a judge in either place.
(This post was edited by Bubba on May 27, 2005, 12:15 PM)