2018-01-20 – There’s been a lot of “scholarly” talk about tribalism as the cause for the political dysfunction in this country. Okay. Whatever.
The problem I have with this analysis is that I often have a hard time recognizing who is in my tribe and who is not. I am an older white male, so I am part of the patriarchy. But I’m Jewish and a feminist and a leftist and other-ists, so I don’t quite fit. I’m starting to get confused. To make matters worse, I have family who are Jewish, but seem politically more like evangelical Christians, and friends who are good-ole-boys from Mississippi, but are more liberal than y’all.
We’re not playing our roles right, people!
The problem is that many of us look like people on the other side of the divide. (As I mentioned, in some cases, it’s a family resemblance.) Yes, the left tends to be more brown, but there are plenty of us white folk who are part of the left, too. And, of course, on the other side are Clarence Thomas, Tim Scott, and Ben Carson.
So in the interest of promoting tribalism and division, I did a little research and came up with a terrific idea.
If you paid any attention during the Balkan War of the 1990 (or you are generally informed about European history), you know that two of the principal antagonists were Serbians and Croatians. Although Serbs and Croats have different religious beliefs, to an outsider, they seem pretty similar. They look alike. And they speak the same language: Serbo-Croatian.
Serbo-Croatian is hyphenated because these two people use different alphabets to write the same language. Serbian is written in the Cyrillic script (like Russian: Ово је српско) and Croatian is written in the Latin script (like English: Ovo je hrvatski). Before my Serb and Croat friends complain that there are other differences, between the two dialects, let me acknowledge that, just like there are regional differences in English.
But the main potential linguistic impediment to mutual understanding is the different alphabet. A Serbian text recited out loud would be completely understood by a Croat. And vice versa. I don’t know if Serbian and Croatian children are taught to read the other’s writing system. But even if they are, Croats would have a harder time reading Serbian text than Croatian and Serbians would have a harder time reading Croatian than Serbian.
Historically, Serbs and Croats have been masters of tribalism and division.
So my proposal is this: to end the common written language that is shared by left and right in America. I don’t think it would be practical to change the spoken language (though some minor differences do exist), but it would probably only take a day to get people up to speed on a new alphabet, so long as the spoken words remain the same.
Such a move would be enormously effective in promoting division between the nascent American tribes.
If you don’t believe me, let me give you an example. The following is a well-known text that y’all may very well know by heart. I was taught to recite this in school. You may have had to recite this as well.
I have “translated” this into a different “alphabet.” Translation is actually the wrong word. If you knew how to decode these letters, you’d discover that I didn’t change the text at all. All that I changed was the font. Here’s the result:
Can you read it? Of course not. But you could learn to read it pretty easily. Then you could use it to communicate with members of your tribe without members of the other tribe being able to easily join in.
The system is not perfect, of course. But I believe it would provide a sufficient obstacle to mutual understanding. We ought to give it a try. A language barrier should be much more effective than a wall.
* * *
Here is the text that I “translated” into webdings:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
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