Scattered Reflections in Memory of George Floyd
While in the beginning of the COVID Situation I was wondering where is a good place to die: is it the adoptive - mostly of own choice - country? Or is it the home - of parents/destiny/god/pure chance’s choice - country?
Today, in the light shed by George Floyd’s death, I am wondering where is a good place to live. With the institutionalised racism on both anglo-speaking sides of the Atlantic - fortunately, more on the States' side - and the lack of the Royal Opera here and Burning Man Festival there, one wonders based on what criteria to revise one's places life and death choices. After all its 2020. Revision time.
So far, in 2020 I cried three times:
6 of January, of relief that WW3 is not commencing as a result of the series of events that started with the killing of the Iranian General; and that I will most probably be able to see my son & parents - living in another country.
11 of March, when I fell ill with, what I thought was, COVID19 - but wouldn't know if it was or it wasn't until I did the antibodies test. Thought I would die without being able to see my son & parents anymore.
15 of May, after watching The National Ballet's online ‘Anastasia’ with Natalia Osipova; at the idea that I won't be able to watch ballet "for real" anymore. Even if cultural life reboots, my profession won't - Face to face interpreters despite having been given a “key worker” status during the COVID19 crisis are expected to work at a rate 25% lower than the preCOVID one; and with a volume of work about 1% of its previous size. I wonder if there is another profession, which becomes cheaper and cheaper year after year, apart from road-side prostitution obviously. - so I won't be able to afford opera and ballet tickets ever more.
These days the ancient factor “race” came to fashion once more, after being swept under the carpet for ages under the pretext of “political correctness” as the good old-fashioned taboo is called nowadays. The same political correctness that calls renowned war mangers peace envoys - obviously, aiming to keep the primitive status quo by shutting all doors to acknowledgement and discussion. Yet, race - and other factors used as discriminative distinguishers- and racism, chauvinism and nationalism have always been a factor in people's choices for a place to live, and often determine people’s place to die. Thus, naturally racist France became clearly unlivable for me - as a recognisable Middle Eastern type…? I guess… you, see I don’t even know with which words to discuss something on which I am silently judged. - The fact that in France I was not recognized as a white person, with all its repercussions; whilst my son was sticking as too white, actually the only white pupil, for his non-white class at school and bullied for that; but despite his whitness my son was to foreign to be put in the Francais souche class! with all its repercussions of that which led to our return to Bulgaria where luckily we are both perceived as Bulgarians; and at the time the newly born hatred towards “The Bulgarians from Abroad”, who import COVID, was not yet around.
Bulgarians do not operate on “colour - principle”. It is not in Bulgarian habits to refer to people as white or black; probably because the colour in Bulgaria is not indicative for the ethnicity, which is Bulgaria’s main discriminative distinguisher : Bulgarian, Gipsy, Arab, Turk. Or as a Duch friend once said “Only Bulgarians think that we (Westerners? White people? - I forgot to ask him for precision) distinguish them from the Gypsies”.
Whilst Greeks, function on a religious (? as much as I have observed) basis: Christians and Muslims, for example.
England from the other side is both friendly and hostile. When asked to compare between England and France racism wise, I say “The French hate you as an alien human being; the English like you as a pet”. Which is better? Not sure. Patronizing is a double edged sword, and English practices it alot towards foreigners. Obviously patronizing has some benefits, “patronizing with benefits”, surprisingly many when you are treated - obviously judged on the basis of your language command, accent and understanding of social-situations obviously alien to you - as an eight-year-old child. But it is also tiring to be treated years in a row as an eight-year-old. One wants to grow up eventually .
On this point - Race and racism - for the Inbetweeners like me, it doesn’t really matter who you think you are, unfortunately. What matters is who wishes to recognize you as “theirs”, therefore adopt and integrate you*. In a way I was very fortunate, as not only Bulgarians recognize me as a Bulgarian, but also Arabs recognize me, even though not immediately, as an Arab.
Last but not least, in the shadow of the knee-”handling” of George Floyd, a word has to be said about the Police. The Metropolitan Police is the best police in the world. If you are not convinced just look towards France. If you still are not convinced - then look further to Bulgaria**. Eventually look towards the States. Bulgarians in UK particularly appreciate the style of The Metropolitan Police, a combination of tactfulness, calmness and intelligence. I am sure that there are many reasons for The Metropolitan Police to be as it is; but I think that one of the main reasons is the fact that it was born and raised as an unarmed force. It somehow seems to me that getting an arm is like getting on a fast track to Stupidity (=Evil). English police were obliged to be clever(=Good) because unarmed. So there is the challenge - for the Met Police to be as good as it was ever despite its increasing armament.
* Like Turkey with the EU, or more particularly with Germany. After using Turkish main d'oeuvre for decades Germany was the most fervent opponent of Turkey’s membership in the EU. “We need you but we don’t like you”, “We are too good for you” was basically what Germany said to the Turks. And because Germany, together with the rest of “First-Class EU” still needed slaves, Bulgaria and Romania - white and Christian, none could shout “RACISME” - were the obvious choice. Just keep repeating “the poorest countries in the EU”, while denying Bulgaria and Romania the option to become social-states: “Unlike us, you can’t afford getting into debt” . Thus, two slave-nation were created within the EU - to use and abuse. Why would you systematically label somebody, person or a state, "the poorest" unless you legitimise their abuse? Unless you normalise in public imaginarium the fact that now it is alright for a whole nation to be exported and used as cleaners, for the women, regardless of education, and as construction workers, for the men, regardless of previous achievements? For how otherwise, the “advanced, democratic societies” will continue to perceive themselves as advanced and democratic?
Has the intention been different - the narrative would have been different. Had the “advanced, democratic society” planned to integrate the “newly admitted countries” as equals, other rhetorics would have been put in circulation like: “While we were wearing wild animal skins, the population of Serdica, nowadays Sofia, were having hot thermal water running in their household - for heating, bathing and cooking”.
What is this strange labeling of ally countries as “poor”, “chauvinist”, “corrupt” etc? What if not rubbing your own nation's ego, else to speak nationalism, is this? I said it before, I will say it again - Germany didn't succeed to concur the world alone armed with National-Socialism, now it storms again, this time well-accompanied by other nations with a renowned fascist past, armed with....socialism.
Having said that I have to add: Yes, to the EU and Yes to Bulgaria in the EU. For Bulgaria it is better to be in a subservient position in the company of politically correct, rich nationalists countries, rather than having the same position under a politically incorrect, poor bolshevik empire. Or at least this is my opinion, many Bulgarians think exactly the opposite. For there is one thing rich, people or nations, can’t understand - the poor has nothing but dignity. As current events have shown - humiliating individuals, or groups of people can last only thus long. Well the same concerns larger groups of people too. Russia on the other hand, being poor itself, knows this fact far too well. As I witnessed in 2019, it was Russian, Cuban and Palestinian representatives to honour the celebrations of the Bulgarian Jurnalist Union’s Day. Why not German, French, Spanish etc representatives? It was the same on the 24th of May, Bulgaria’s much loved celebration of the Cirylic Alphabet. The only time that English, Dutch, German etc officials appeared to support a local event was the Pride. Gathering an international community to celebrate Pride is obviously good, but then why not the same community on other local celebrations? This permanent haughty disdain from EU’s nationalist countries like Germany and France, is only far too well noticed.
**I have seen Bulgaria’s first Militzia, then Politzia exclusively in an ugly and abusive light, The Clash’s Police and Thieves verbatim, fighting the nation with their guns and ammunition, with drugs added (with which I imagine them similar to American police). Nevertheless, I have never given up hope that Bulgarian Police, just like the country, will one day wake up to its good and gently mannered nature. Thus, once every year , I approach a Bulgarian policeman. It is a whole show to observe the face of a Bulgarian policeman while a member of the public approaches to ask for information or direction. First it is the disbelief, when the policeman realises that you are effectively coming to him - female officers are hyper rare - instead of crossing on the other side of the road as 100% of the people are doing 100% of the time. Then his face becomes the scene of a cognitive crash - like a robot receiving a command conflicting with Asimov’s Third Robotic Law - when he realizes that you are effectively expecting him to serve you, by providing information or directions. Then an even further cognitive crash - like a robot receiving a command conflicting with Asimov’s First Robotic Law - when he realizes that no matter how simple is your question (“Where is such and such school?” “Which street is X street, this or the next one?”, or “At what time does the football match finish?” he still is not equipped to answer it. Then an even further cognitive crash at the realization that he has dealt with a member of the public without any exchange of violence and bullying, when you tell him “Thank you”, despite his having done nothing that makes sense. I regret not having eyes on my back to keep watching his face when I go away.
And yes, my patience and optimism has given fruit, be it small and green : This year, when I asked a policeman about the people protesting at the National Assembly he managed to not merely to take it as something usual, but also to actually deliver a reasonable amount of information. I also have to add that last year, I saw two young policeboys, who held the door for me to get out of a shop; which was hyper strange because it looked like something that a normal person would do.
There, the benefits of long life - one may witness curious changes - hopefully the brothers of George Floyd might witness changes too.