Friday, October 31, 2014

Have a Very Classy Halloween

Not counting the zombie invasion of roaming Ebolaphobes, what are you most frightened about this Halloween?

If you're a One Percenter, chances are that the lower classes coming into your neighborhood to beg for goodies is high on your list of fears. One wealthy woman allegedly (or maybe actually -- because although this reads like satire, the super-rich are extremely talented at unwitting self-parody) sought advice about how to keep the riffraff away. From Slate:

Dear Prudence,
I live in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country, but on one of the more “modest” streets—mostly doctors and lawyers and family business owners. (A few blocks away are billionaires, families with famous last names, media moguls, etc.) I have noticed that on Halloween, what seems like 75 percent of the trick-or-treaters are clearly not from this neighborhood. Kids arrive in overflowing cars from less fortunate areas. I feel this is inappropriate. Halloween isn’t a social service or a charity in which I have to buy candy for less fortunate children. Obviously this makes me feel like a terrible person, because what’s the big deal about making less fortunate kids happy on a holiday? But it just bugs me, because we already pay more than enough taxes toward actual social services. Should Halloween be a neighborhood activity, or is it legitimately a free-for-all in which people hunt down the best candy grounds for their kids?
—Halloween for the 99 Percent
Needless to say, "Prudence" told Rich Bitch to stuff her Snickers up her Ayn Rand knickers.

Meanwhile, we learn from the New York Times Motherlode blog that there are subtler ways for the rich to control the seasonal beggars daring to set foot in their neighborhoods. Simply judge the Trick or Treaters by their classiness and couture,  and hand out the goodies accordingly:
Turned off by the people who came to their door last year, many of them adults or kids in street clothes, and few who said “trick or treat,” he (the author's Halloween decoration fanatic neighbor) decided to try something new: candy tiers. This year, they’ll reward those who play by Halloween’s basic rules — wear a costume, say “trick or treat” and be more or less a kid — by giving them pretty good candy. Those with amazing costumes will get better sweets. Those who don’t dress up at all or are of voting age or older will get a consolation prize: Dum Dums, which our neighbor considers the dregs of the candy pile.
So a taciturn kid dressed as a hobo will choke on the cheap lollipops, huh? On the other hand, anyone named Biff wearing a Mitt Romney mask will be rewarded with adult-size PayDay bars. Too bad the Times blogger didn't reveal the location of her neighborhood. It is a prime target for decorative off-brand toilet paper. 

(Incidentally, I always liked DumDums, especially the red and purple ones. Those disgustingly chewy caramel-peanut PayDays were the first to hit the garbage can.)

Meanwhile.... just not in time for Halloween: bringing a whole new meaning to the term Hot Zone:

Click image to enlarge

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Jay–Ottawa said...

One of the new words I picked up last week was at a talk by Glenn Greenwald. Saturday night he spoke to a packed auditorium in Ottawa. The word is “othering.” Thus, in Karen’s report about the rich tribe, we see them “othering” the people from another tribe who visit rich neighborhoods from elsewhere. Othering just may be a spinoff of willed disparity and the opposite of solidarity.

Lots of governmental activity in behalf of Ebola victims is done under the banner of Othering. For how care might better be provided more competently and in the spirit of solidarity, see Glen Ford’s latest essay about Cuba’s outreach to West Africa.

“No country or combination of nations and NGOs comes close to the speed, size and quality of Cuba’s response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa.”
“Doctors Without Borders is second to Cuba in terms of health professionals. But the French NGO is a swiftly revolving door, churning doctors and nurses in and out every six weeks because of the extreme work and safety conditions. Cuba’s health brigades are made of different stuff. Every volunteer is expected to remain on duty in the Ebola zone for six months. Moreover, if any of the Cubans contract Ebola or any other disease, they will be treated at the hospitals where they work, alongside their African patients, rather than sent home.”

Denis Neville said...

The United States seems to have embraced the idea of working closely with Cuba on the global response to the Ebola epidemic.

And, of course, infuriating Republicans.

“Diseases respect neither borders, nationalities nor class; if we stand with the poor and the community health workers who treat them, we will thrive with them. Looking around, I see a world that is on fire. Epidemic disease blazes through the houses of the poor world, and flames lick at the walls of the rich. If, instead of improving upon the programs of which community health workers are a part, we rather choose to abandon them, then we too may one day find ourselves sick. Is there any ethical issue more pressing than that of global health?” - Dr. Daniel Palazuelos

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

I love that children from all over our town choose our neighborhood to visit on Halloween. Halloween is fairly new to Australia and in many parts of the country, it is sneered at. But in my little South Australian country town, my neighborhood is getting into it. And while I adore the children, I DO get a bit annoyed also with the teenagers who show up at my door, grab a handful of candy without a thank you, sans costume. That tiered candy guy might have something.

I am absolutely humbled by the amazing people going into Ebola areas to help literally putting their lives on the line. I didn't know about Cuba but I am really impressed. It kinda puts the wealthy Developed Worlds to shame, doesn't it?

Denis Neville said...

@ Valerie - loving comment on the children who visited your neighborhood …

The antithesis this past summer in the USA was the shameful human blockade of busloads of immigrant children on the run from Central America and the stampede of demagoguing politicians and their media fellow travelers.

The act of kindness of one Englishman, Sir Nicholas Winton:

In a letter he wrote in 1939, Winton told a friend,

"There is a difference between passive goodness and active goodness, which is, in my opinion, the giving of one's time and energy in the alleviation of pain and suffering. It entails giving out, finding out, and helping those, who are suffering and in danger, and, not merely in leading an exemplary life in a purely passive way by doing no wrong."

As a young man, Winton arranged for hundreds of Jewish children from Czechoslovakia to escape Nazi terror and find safety with foster families in Britain. Only England would accept unaccompanied children.

Sir Nicholas Winton, who is now 105 and continues to maintain that what he did for the Czechoslovakian children was nothing out of the ordinary, was honored recently at a ceremony in Prague. Winton received the Order of the White Lion, the highest honor of the Czech Republic.

Winton still wears a ring given to him by some of the children he saved. It is inscribed with a line from the Talmud, the book of Jewish law: "Save one life, save the world."

How do we excuse ourselves? What will we do? Will we content ourselves with a life of passive goodness, of merely refusing to participate in evil, or will we commit to active goodness, to dedicating our time and efforts to rescuing the children who are in imminent danger?

I often think of my Irish ancestors, who fled British tyranny during the Irish potato famine. They too sought refuge in America, a place with a few cows, a garden, a house of one’s own, as far away from trouble as possible.

Demagoguing politicians are now treating healthcare workers, who selflessly volunteer to go to West Africa, where Ebola truly is a major crisis, like lepers once they return home.

Let us remember those brave enough to act at times of crisis to ward off evil and let us try to be inspired by their example.

“Don’t be content in your life just to do no wrong…” – Sir Nicholas Winton

Pearl said...

The Missing Women of Afghanistan: After 13 Years of War, the Rule of Men, Not Law -

Well worth reading.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

I literally cried when I read your comment. I am going to use all of it in my class. And when we do biographies, you can bet I will be teaching about Sir Nicholas Winton.

In my little school, each class leads three Chapels a year. I will be focusing our next chapel on passive versus active goodness. Time to shake people up in the world of self righteous fundamentalist Christendom. Sadly, the prosperity doctrine has even made it to my little town.

I think the principals of my little school don't know what to do with me. The last time I led teacher devotions, I spent the week talking about the TPP and how it was our Christian duty to get politically involved and fight injustice.

BTW, they are against me handing out Halloween candy.

Denis Neville said...

@ Valerie

Years ago when our two boys attended the nearby elementary school, Halloween parties, where kids had a lot of fun, were called “Halloween” parties.

Our youngest son especially loved Halloween. It was his favorite holiday - the magic of his child’s imagination let free to run wild, full of humor and playfulness, despite being confined to his wheelchair.

Driving by the school several days ago, I saw that the “Halloween” parties have been replaced by “Fall Festival” parties.

I wondered if the children can still wear Halloween costumes - ghosts, skeletons, goblins, witches, and so forth; if Halloween had become another victim of the local Kansas culture wars by the Christian Right; if kids Halloween fun been stolen.

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