♩ And people will greet with a smile and nod, to anyone close to closer
But its guns are ready to stun and blaze at anyone north of the border ♩
— Conspiracy theories about people from other cultures abound everywhere.1
A second stab at soliciting suggestions for serving up sought-after sentences secured several supplications. The Ajax Broadcasting Co.’s request won out. Blame them for any disappointment while joining Uvular in “a look at non-U.S. and U.K. foreign affairs beyond the invasion of Ukraine.”
“Karam” hits an Anglophone’s ear as so much ‘60s Batman word-bubble onomatopoeia. In Arabic, where “Chad” and “Mayo” peel out as Robin dropkicks Riddler’s henchmen, karam means “generosity.” More broadly, karam describes the tradition of showing unflagging, almost ostentatious hospitality to a visitor.
The term insisted upon Uvular’s mind as he read “How ‘Multiculturalism’ Became a Bad Word in South Korea.” Permit the quoting of an extended passage:
Inside the dimly lit house, young Muslim men knelt and prayed in silence. Outside, their Korean neighbors gathered with angry signs to protest “a den of terrorists” moving into their neighborhood.
In a densely populated but otherwise quiet district in Daegu, a city in southeastern South Korea, a highly emotional standoff is underway.
Roughly 150 Muslims, mostly students at the nearby Kyungpook National University, started building a mosque in a lot next door to their temporary house of worship about a year ago. When their Korean neighbors found out, they were furious.
The mosque would turn the neighborhood of Daehyeon-dong into “an enclave of Muslims and a crime-infested slum,” the Korean neighbors wrote on signs and protest banners. It would bring more “noise” and a “food smell” from an unfamiliar culture, driving out the Korean residents.
This March 1, 2022, New York Times article also notes that “accepting Muslim refugees has become so unpopular [in South Korea] that when the government gave asylum to 390 Afghans last year, it refused to call them refugees. Instead, it called them ‘special contributors,’ signaling that the country would only welcome those who contributed to national interests.”
Perhaps the Old Gray Lady simply showed its age in just now shining a spotlight on this particular brand of religiously tainted xenophobia, Al Jazeera covered the same waterfront2 back in 2018, highlighting the plight of around 560 Yemeni refugees on Jeju Island—where they remain today because admitting them to the mainland would endanger the asylum seekers on account of South Koreans viewing them as a danger. Real circle of unlife stuff.
Here, Uvular breaks the fourth wall to tell you he knows you know he has unfairly singled out South Koreans as perpetrators of unjust-to-homicidal mistreatment of immigrants of the Muslim persuasion. Or immigrants in general. But focus, Politicados.3
Australia has its Christmas Island. Hungary and Poland serially close their western borders specifically to non-Christians. India’s BJP and its leader, Nerendra Modi, pursue the oppression of Muslims as a principal policy. Myanmar has shown itself so dedicated to genociding Rohingyas that Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi only managed to briefly hold that country’s presidency only by making the devil’s bargain to continue the practice. The Philippines and Mindanao. The Russians and Chechnya.
The United States escapes mention in the context of this heavily elided alphabetical accounting solely because Ajax put the Land of the Conditionally Free and Home of the Brave Against the Weak out of bounds. And, as promised, for one weekend at least, Ajax gets what they want.
As most problems do, the refusal to welcome or, at the absolute minimum, show indifference toward people not like oneself contains its quick, sure and lasting solution. Stop not welcoming people unlike oneself. This improves everyone’s lives. Just think how much more time those Daegu protestors could spend patronizing PC bangs and streaming K-pop videos if they put down their placards. To say nothing of benefiting from an influx of college students, factory and farm workers, health care providers, and tasty additions to the nation’s menu.
No one even needs to go full karam. Just do not hate, fear, or exclude the stranger. And maybe offer some tea and cake. South Korea already has those to spare in spades. Why not share?
What can you serve the comments section? Don’t hold back.