Immigrants, Muslims, President Obama: demonizing the "other" is rapidly becoming a blood sport. Never mind that most immigrants come to see an "elephant" (as did many of our own ancestors). Or that most Muslims aren't terrorists. Or that in this age of international travel, President Obama is hardly alone in taking the "x" out xenophobe and putting it into expatriate. In a cover story for this month's Forbes, conservative thinker Dinesh D'Souza asserts that because Obama spent “his formative years — the first 17 years of his life — off the American mainland, in Hawaii, Indonesia and Pakistan, with multiple subsequent journeys to Africa," he is an "other," doesn't think like an "American," and takes actions that benefit foreigners, not natives. (This barb from a man who was born and raised in India!)
As an antidote to these poisonous times, this blog will be issuing occasional Pachrydermophile Prizes in honor of Americans who are carrying on a love affair with the elephant, or "X," in a very public way, untrammeled by xenophobia. In this post, "best of" prizes will be awarded for the following categories:
- Wrinkles and All: For foreign-born or first-generation Americans who continue to embrace their native cultures in the face of vitriolic attacks.
- Grass Really Is Greener: For Americans who admire certain things about the "other" and aren't afraid to broadcast that fact.
- Feed Time: For Americans who, having fallen hard for another culture's food, try hard to get the rest of us to fall as well.
- Why Do Elephants Paint Their Toes Yellow? For Americans who express a love of other cultures through clothing.
Sons and Other Flammable Objects, told of the travails of an Iranian-American family in New York post-9/11. But little did Khakpour anticipate, when she published the book in 2007, the "boiling hot summer of anti-Islamic assault" the nation has just experienced. As she wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times, published on September 11, 2010:
. . . it would take almost a full decade for the proverbial 9/11 fallout to fall out, for anti-Muslim xenophobia to emerge, fully formed and fever-pitched, ostensibly over plans to build an interfaith cultural center near ground zero.
. . . I used to experience so many mixed emotions when I’d see women in full burqa in Brooklyn: alarm at the spectacle (no matter how many times I’d seen it), followed by a certain feminist irk, and finally discomfiture at our cultural kinship. And then it would all turn into one strong emotion — protective rage — when I’d see a group of teenagers laughing and pointing at them.
struggled to get used to not having a clothes dryer or air conditioner in her apartment in Rome. All's well that ends well, she says: "I now enjoy the ritual of putting laundry on the line, expect to sweat in summer, and look forward to the cool of autumn." She is also of the conviction that if she can do it, others can. The average American produces three times the amount of CO2 emissions as a person in France. So if we are serious about lowering our carbon footprints, then it's time to forgo some of our energy-wasting appliances.
front-page story to the Times's Week in Review addressing the debate now raging in American educational communities about the importance of testing. She tells the story of how well her children adapted to their international school in Beijing, which combined a Western curriculum with an Asian emphasis on discipline and frequent testing. She says that her kids mostly didn't understand they were being tested as the "tests felt like so many puzzles; not so much a judgment on your being, but an interesting challenge." What's more, they came to "like the feedback of testing." American educators would do well to heed Rosenthal's advice and learn from the Chinese example. Notably, her observations dovetail with some new U.S. research showing that not giving tests may be bad educational practice.
Num Pang, showcasing traditional Cambodian ingredients — fermented fish, shrimp paste, fermented shrimp, and lots of herbs — in a style (gourmet sandwiches) they hoped would appeal to Americans.
"At Lunch With" column in the New York Times, the actor Oliver Platt dragged film critic Leah Rozen to Num Pang and proceeded to order his favorite skirt steak sandwich topped with mayonnaise flavored with fresh cilantro [coriander]. Platt's father was a diplomat specializing in Asia, so the family (which also includes food critic Adam Platt) lived in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and Japan. There are many Americans who think that cilantro tastes like soap, but for Platt, cilantro is the equivalent of what the madeleine was to Proust: the flavor that recalls his time abroad more than any other. No wonder he's a Num Pang regular. At the same time, Platt appreciates how well Daitz and Chau have made their Southeast Asian food concept work in a New York City's ultra-urban environment. "You’ve got all of New York in microcosm right here," he told Rozen. ". . . I can smell the exhaust, and that’s part of the whole palate.”
Project Runway). Each was elated to discover a fellow Californian who was attempting to dress an East Coast "elephant." (In Mayock's view, West Coast style is much less defined than what's found in the East.) Upon graduating from Parsons, the pair collaborated on their own label, Vena Cava, which is distinguished for its hip prints and dresses with a worldly feel — clothes that, in New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn's phrase, "hint of Americana with a dash of another country."
Vena Cava's cultural references have included Egyptian history, japonismo, Wiener Werkstatte, and African textiles. Lately, Buhai and Mayock seem to have turned to the Tuscan region of Italy or France for inspiration. (Are they suggesting we'd all like to escape?!) Their Spring 2011 collection, shown at New York Fashion Week, "felt very Mad Men by way of Capri," according to Huffington Post contributor Nicole Berrie. "An Eat, Pray, Love of the 1960s if you will." (Sounds heavenly, in my current mood ...)
Question: Long live the American pachydermophile spirit! Are there any other exemplars you think should be honored?