What we encounter here is again the paradox of victimization: the Other to be protected is good in so far as it remains a victim (which is why we were bombarded with pictures of helpless Kosovar mothers, children and old people, telling moving stories of their suffering); the moment it no longer behaves like a victim but wants to strike back on its own, it magically turns all of a sudden into a terrorist/fundamentalist/drug-trafficking Other. — Slavoj Žižek, “The Fragile Absolute,” p. 60.
Learning community languages appears as a typically liberal approach to learning languages, yet it is actually neither liberal nor conservative.
Americans act strange when the weak “other” begins to gain power. In a recent episode of This American Life we hear what it’s like when the Somali community begins to gain power in St Cloud, Minnesota.
One complaint was that Somalis had “taken over” a local park. Another one was that a large group of Somali women were disturbing the peace walking through the streets loudly.
When they were in Somalia, suffering, the US supported President Bill Clinton’s military intervention. Americans wanted to end the suffering of the people so that they could live a normal life.
But when they actually live a normal life in St Cloud, many citizens wanted them to stop coming. Citizens wanted to remove them and prevent more from coming.
This cycle repeated itself multiple times in US history. We were excited in the North to free the slaves, but got nervous when they started coming in large numbers to Northern cities. We praised the nobility of the Native American warrior, but thought of them as terrorists in the 1960s when they demanded more rights in an armed struggle. As long as they remained victims, we were comfortable; once they showed initiative, they got too dangerous.