How are you these days? How’s the old fighting spirit? Don’t lose sight of your superiority over the rest of the messy world! You know you’re the beacon to which the rest of us so-called English Speakers look. I understand that such responsibility leaves little room for mirth, but perhaps you could try a little harder when you seek such relief? Your tabloids, I know, are not exactly the pride and joy of the nation. Or perhaps they are?
Regarding that, though, and your superiority: what’s the deal with picking on Kazakhstan? I’ve been trying to follow slightly less ridiculous news sources, but my aggregate keeps spitting up these little stories about how silly Kazakhstan is. I guess they had a minor public celebration at which they performed the wrong song over the PA? That’s it, right?
With such a meager supply of ridiculousness, I suppose we should take heart in your collective ability to stretch it out into a few days’ worth of chortles and Oh-Really!s. Perhaps you should stick to using foreigners to make fun of yourselves?
PS: In case you missed it, here’s a quick list of the aforementioned offenders
- High five! Kazakhstan national anthem replaced by Ricky Martin song… and Borat’s nowhere in sight
- Kazakhs mix national anthem with Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca
- Kazakh Ski Festival Organisers Play Ricky Martin’s ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ Instead Of National Anthem (VIDEO)
- Video: Kazakh national anthem fail surfaces online
Kazakhstan also graced the pages of the Wall Street Journal this week, also with the obligatory Borat references. The story’s title: Cultural Learnings of Kazakhstan.
That story, however, was in connection with a new show at NYU’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. This show showcases art pieces and artifacts from the steppe kurgans found on what is today the territory of Kazakhstan. Superficially, this story should be less distressing to those who concern themselves with Kazakhstan. But might I pick some nits? First off, if you introduce someone as the Ambassador of a sovereign nation, you might want to stick with that title throughout the story and save your “misters” for the postman and Army Warrant Officers.
I asked Mr. Idrissov [sic] whether there were still nomads roaming the Kazakh steppes. “We are descendants of those cultures,” Mr. Idrissov explained diplomatically and proudly, adding something about the third century B.C.
I also couldn’t help notice that he was wearing a handsome gold-horse lapel pin. Perhaps the equivalent of the American flag pins U.S. politicians don before they leave the house each morning? “I carry this as the symbol of my ancestors,” explained Mr. Idrissov. He added that he thinks nomads get a bum rap. “It’s believed that nomads are uncultured, unruly groups of people sustained only by raiding and making wars.”
The reality—as proved by the exhibition involving such items as beautiful gold jewelry and sculpted ibex horns—is that nomadic culture, from the first millennium B.C. to the early centuries A.D., was a sophisticated and important stage in human civilization.
I think there is something a little off here. It’s a bit of a contradiction. While the author seems to agree that one can take pride in nomadic culture, in this story he states that nomadism was an important “stage” in human civilization. In Soviet Historiography (and a lot of Labor History of the past century), there is an understanding of the terms “development,” “progress,” and “civilization” that most today would rightly want to problematize. Social Darwinism is not science, nor is History. Nomads are neither backwards nor progressive. The idea that material and technological “gains” signify progress is increasingly being challenged. So, I applaud the Ambassador for defending Nomads, and also his intentions (stated on other occasions) to draw back some of the Iron Curtain of Soviet Oppression. Let us not stop there, and ask ourselves (and our journalists) why there are not so many nomads “roaming the Kazakh steppes” today? Dear Journalists, was that really about progress? And could you be slightly less disrespectful to your interviewees?