False as­sump­tions

The Dominion Post - - Opinion -

I am sure the United States am­bas­sador’s re­marks in Samoa came from a good heart (In­quiry over ‘cul­tural mis­un­der­stand­ings’, Oct 26), but I think his un­der­ly­ing as­sump­tions are mis­guided.

When he told a woman serv­ing food at an event he was at that she ‘‘could make hun­dreds of dol­lars in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try in the US’’, there were two as­sump­tions im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous that are faulty: one, that mak­ing hun­dreds of dol­lars is an as­pi­ra­tion shared by all; and two, that work­ing in the US is also some­thing highly de­sir­able.

The woman may have been per­fectly con­tent with her lot.

He also de­scribes telling peo­ple at the event that they were ‘‘beau­ti­ful … re­ally hand­some … great’’ af­ter hav­ing seen a group im­me­di­ately prior who ap­peared ‘‘dirty and grungy’’. The ‘‘beau­ti­ful’’ peo­ple prob­a­bly didn’t need his re­as­sur­ance on that point, and, sadly, his com­ments prob­a­bly came across as pa­tro­n­is­ing.

It is also pos­si­ble that the peo­ple de­scribed as ‘‘dirty and grungy’’ were con­tent with their lot and may or may not spend all their time as they were at that mo­ment. Some of the of­fence may be about cul­ture (not eth­nic­ity), but I see it in part as be­ing about see­ing the world through the lens of false as­sump­tions. BAR­BARA WOODS John­sonville

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