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Interesting subject, ethnic humor.

Some observations.

The jokes are often clever and funny, assuming the ethnic group being skewered is one you don't happen to identify with.

Ethnic jokes say more about the person who chooses to repeat it (you never meet the guy who made it up) than the ethnic group being belittled.

Laughing at the joke raises other issues. We might react to the humor while either applauding or decrying the trait being ridiculed.

Much ethnic humor picks out, and picks on, a particular trait which either exists, or is perceived to exist, or is joked about so often that it is said to exist even tho' we've never seen it in this generation, altho' it may have been perceived in past generations when one group rubbed against the other, the wrong way.

I don't know what to say about ethnic humor, except to say that I've dropped it as a genre for me to repeat, on the theory, Who-am-I and What-made-me-so-great that I can afford to pick on others who aren't around to defend themselves about something they have no control over. There are plenty of others around to tell the jokes, and others to laugh at them, endorsing the telling, so to speak, without me lending my endorsement. It's different if I'm sharing an ethnic joke with an ethnic friend and he has a chance to come right back with something of his own.

If you've ever seen turn of the century 'coon jokes about Blacks, told by white racists, then known as run-of-the-mill-ordinary-Americans, you've seen that the jokes tell more about the time, place, and the teller, than about the butt.

Today we seem to have it in for the Middle East, particularly the Arabic speakers.

In the U.S. that often means Palestinians. These are a group about 94% Muslim and 6% Christian (most frequently Orthodox rite, i.e., Greek Orthodox). This is a group that I happen to have had the privilege of getting to know well. I have friends in each sector, Christian and Muslim. Have been to their homes, meals, victory celebrations, weddings, etc. Have read the histories and spoken to them about this and that. The result is that I have the sympathy that comes from knowing and the understanding of what the outsider sees that is foreign, and made the butt of jokes.

My guess is that the jokesters have just enough knowledge to be dangerous. They know what's different and pick it out to pick on. It takes a certain amount of perceptiveness and wit to do that effectively.

But it is damaging to the butt, and in the long run, demeaning to the pickor.

Someone had to sit long and think hard to come up with that list of words. Perhaps some sophomore raised among Arabic speakers.

Arabeeiah is the Arabic word I've heard used to self-describe people or things of the Arabic world.

"Arabic" or "Arabic people" has a softer sound and less edge than "Arab," to many ears, as "Jewish," has, as compared to "Jew," regardless of correctness otherwise.

I suppose if someone posts a whole list of carefully thought out ethnic jokes, one has the right to inquire where he or she got them from.

-rs



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