Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Oprah presents skinhead befriending victim; Holocaust survivor meets daughter of Nazi officer; IAT test

Oprah again today put on a hard-hitting show, in three parts. The link for the show today is this.

First she presented the recent friendship of gay man Matthew Boger, who was kicked out of his home by his mother and lived on the streets, where he was beaten by skinhead Timothy Zaal. In the years that followed, Tom changed his ways and worked for The Tolerance Center, where he would meet Matthew.

Tim described his mindset as a younger man, belonging to the White Aryan Resistance, and believing that anyone who was “different” constituted a threat to his own family or group.

The second part of the show presented Monika Hertwig daughter of Amon Goeth, presented in the Steven Speilberg film “Schindler’s List” (1993) as a guard at Auschwitz and very brutal. The woman Helen, who worked in a house near Cracow for Amon, was reunited. The show visited the house as it is still standing. I visited Cracow in 1999, taking the night train from Berlin, and hired a taxi to visit Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Author Malcom Gladwell, whose book is called “Blink”, discussed the Implicit Association Test, at this link, which detects “first impression” prejudices that have been built by social conditioning. The test reminds me of the notorious pupilometric test from the movie "The Parallax View".

The idea of family and tribal “loyalty” is certainly becoming double edged. As Robert Merry describes in his book “Sands of Empire,” tribal consciousness, which forms the foundation of Arab and Muslim culture, develops over centuries of history as a way for cultural groups to survive in a hazardous world. Modern culture emphasizes the individual and overcoming prejudices against those who are different, and it is not always easy to reconcile this with a demand to look after the best interest of other family members.

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