25 November 2009

One Child's Language: at 42 months

Intellectual notes: Of all the Sesame Street characters, Rachel used to resemble sweet, innocent, and imaginative Elmo the most. But now she's turning into the Count, whose greatest joy in life is to find something to count. She counts steps, parking meters, people on the bus, bites of food, and sips of water. She can now count past 100 without prompting, can count backwards from 10 to 0, and can add and subtract one number at a time so long as she's dealing with numbers not much over ten. And, finally, she no longer misses 16 on her way to 20.

She is raptly attentive during Sesame Street, and we've just started watching the Sunday evening Disney hour with her. She asks a lot of questions. She likes cartoons but has not yet been exposed to Saturday morning TV. So her very active imagination has not turned to violence yet. Instead, she organizes a lot of weddings, birthday parties, travels, picnics, and classroom activities.

Language notes: Rachel is picking up more and more local English at school. One of the most noticeable lately is mines, as in Yours, Mines, and Ours. (That forces an exception to follow the same rule that adds s to the other forms.)

She has finally begun to use Please, Thank you, Excuse me, and Sorry fairly regularly. And she'll wave good-bye to kids she knows. Her conversational habits are not always polite though. She wants to dominate every conversation around the house, and isn't happy to yield the floor to either of us. She is very, very verbal, providing a running commentary on everything she does. When she's tired, the running commentary turns into a babbling stream of consciousness.

UPDATE: This child is now a 24-year-old teacher in Boston's Chinatown.

One Child's Language: at 40 months

Physical development: Rachel's handwriting is much smoother now. She doesn't have to have little dots to mark the angle-points in A, M, Y and other letters. She has even got S and C down pretty well. She can also write quite small and has done a few exercises at school writing numbers. She jumps well with two feet and can stand on one foot. She likes to show how fast she can run. She is quite active during exercise at her school. We enrolled her in a "movement" class at the YWCA on Saturday mornings, but so far the only thing she has participated in is a balance-beam exercise that she enjoyed at preschool. She doesn't like receiving a lot of attention from strangers. We doubt she'll go into show business.

Intellectual notes: She still loves to count and do very simple addition and subtraction. In fact, she has discovered the Associative Principle: "Look, 2 and 2 and 1 make 5; and 3 and 2 make 5, too!" She was counting with her fingers in the stroller one day and announced "2 and 2 and 2 and 2 and 2 make 10!" She knows that 100 is a lot, and can count that high if you prompt her for the even multiples of ten. She no longer misses fifteen now that she knows fif is a funny way to say five, but she usually skips sixteen for some reason.

She also loves guessing and telling. "You don't know how old Panda is?" [Just say "No!"] "I'll tell you. He's two." "Do you know what we can use? ... Think! Think!" She likes to involve us in long imaginary games in which everyone's role is subject to redefinition whenever the fancy strikes her. She also does a lot of reasoning. This is the bicentennial of Chinese emigration to Hawaii. When Rachel asked why so many Chinese came here, Mama told her that many Chinese wanted to leave China. She said, "Yeah, they wanted to find a cleaner place, and Honolulu was clean enough."

Language notes: Rachel returned from her Christmas visit having finally switched from referring to herself as Rachel to using I, me, my appropriately. She has also switched to an overcorrected pronunciation of the so that it always rhymes with thee. One of her teachers must have stigmatized the local pronunciation, da. (She has acquired the local auwe in place of ouch.) Her pronunciation of consonant clusters (st, str, sp, spr, etc.) seems to have slipped a bit while she concentrates on new grammatical constructions, especially comparatives (good, gooder, goodest, bad, badder, baddest), even complicated syntax like: "When I'm 100 years old, I'll be tall enough that my head will touch the ceiling." "Look, I can push the stroller as straight as you can." Around us, she is extremely verbal, providing a running commentary on her every action.

UPDATE: This child is now a 24-year-old teacher in Boston's Chinatown.

Lind on Patrician Do-gooder-ism vs. Populist Producerism

Old-style Democrat Michael Lind asks a timely question in a Salon essay entitled Can populism be liberal?
There remains the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, represented more in Congress than in Obama's White House -- and more in the House than in the Senate, a dully complacent millionaires' club. Can congressional progressives compete with conservatives to channel popular outrage? Unfortunately, progressivism in the form in which it has evolved in the last generation does not resonate with populist producerism.

To begin with, most of the moral fervor of the contemporary center-left has been diverted from the issue of fair rewards for labor to the environmental movement. In theory, environmentalism ought to fit the populist narrative of defending shared goods against special interests. Indeed, clean air and water legislation and public parks and wilderness areas are broadly popular with working-class Americans, not least hunters and fishers. But many environmentalists insist that global warming must be combated not only by low-CO2 energy technology but also by radical lifestyle changes like switching from industrial farming to small-scale organic agriculture and moving from car-based suburbs and exurbs to deliberately "densified" cities with mass transit. Whether environmentalists propose to engineer this utopian social transformation by tax incentives or coercive laws, the campaign triggers the populist nightmare of arrogant social elites trying to dictate where and how ordinary people should live.

Even if it had not been eclipsed by moralistic lifestyle environmentalism, contemporary economic progressivism would be crippled by its own priorities. New Deal liberalism was primarily about jobs and wages, with benefits as an afterthought. Post-New Deal progressivism is primarily about benefits, with jobs and wages as an afterthought. This inversion of priorities is underlined by the agenda of the Democrats since the last election -- universal healthcare coverage first, jobs later.

It is only in the post-New Deal era that universal healthcare has become the Holy Grail of the American center-left, rather than, say, full employment or a living wage. Sure, Democrats from Truman to Johnson sought universal healthcare, and Medicare for the elderly was a down payment for that goal. But the main concern of the New Dealers was providing economic growth with full employment, on the theory that if the economy is growing and workers have the bargaining power to obtain their fair share of the new wealth in the form of wages, you don't need a vastly bigger welfare state. Having forgotten the New Deal's emphasis on high-wage work, all too many of today's progressives seem to have internalized the right's caricature of FDR-to-LBJ liberalism as being primarily about redistribution from the rich to the poor.

This shift in emphasis is connected with the shift in the social base of the Democratic Party from the working class to an alliance of the wealthy, parts of the professional class and the poor. And progressive redistributionism also reflects the plutocratic social structure of the big cities that are now the Democratic base. Unlike the egalitarian farmer-labor liberalism that drew on the populist values of the small town and the immigrant neighborhood, metropolitan liberalism tends to define center-left politics not as self-help on the part of citizens but rather as charity for the disadvantaged carried out by affluent altruists. Tonight the fundraiser for endangered species; tomorrow the gala charity auction for poor children.
via RealClearPolitics

24 November 2009

One Child's Language: at 39 months

Social notes: Ever since Rachel moved to the bigger kids' room at school, she has assigned herself a new role in life. She always reminds us of what a big girl she is and almost never goes into the little baby routines she was so fond of before the move: "Look how fast Rachel can run." "Look how high Rachel can jump now." In fact, she has changed her role-play at home from Baby to Teacher. She spends a lot of time at home comforting her stuffed animals, showing them things, putting them down on mats for naptime, waking them up again, reading to them, feeding them. She gets the funniest little serious look on her face when she is comforting them for crying. She repeats instructions from school to them, playing the teacher role to the hilt, telling them "This is a table mat activity, not a floor mat activity."

Another way she marks her change in status is by constantly inquiring how she did things or said things when she was a little baby. "How did Rachel swim when Rachel was a little baby?" "How did Rachel talk when Rachel was one year old?" "How did Rachel say blue when Rachel was in China?" Then she will laugh and imitate our imitations of how she used to say things.

Physical development: Rachel is fascinated by writing now, and likes to take a pen or crayon and write messages on paper. She controls her scribble pretty well, doing a good imitation of a doctor's prescription scrawl.

Intellectual notes: The biggest concept Rachel has mastered with her new rite of passage is the progress of time. Yesterday now means the previous day, or at least the other day, not just any time in the past. Tomorrow is also more immediate than it used to be. She knows about relative age and birthdays, knows most of the days of the week and the last four months of the year. She contrasts her life as a baby and her life in China with her present life. In fact, she has a renewed interest in her China past now and asks a lot more questions about her pictures from Chinese preschool.

Her other major fascination right now is numbers and arithmetic. She counts everything and knows the concept of adding one number to another. She will hold up one, two, three, four, or five fingers on each hand and ask "How much is this?" She hasn't memorized the answers yet, but she can figure it out by counting all her fingers. She can count to twenty, but she tends to miss fifteen and sometimes sixteen.

Language notes: Rachel constantly asks "What's that spell?" She has memorized an ABC book from the library that goes "A is for angry anteater, B is for bashful bear, ...." Her favorite road sign is the yellow BUMP sign. In fact, on the buses she often reads the yellow sign on every window "C-A-U-T-I-O-N Bump!" She looks for Chevron, Shell, and Union 76 signs; spells out STOP, WALK, EXIT, and NO PARKING signs; recognizes Safeway, MacDonalds, and Burger King logos; asks about the cover, half-title, title, and contents pages in books. She likes to take a pen and write messages which she translates as "Please take a juice can to school tomorrow" or "Let's meet for breakfast at eight."

Although she still never uses I, me, my in real communication, she will use them perfectly well when she is play-acting with her stuffed animals. And she now asks "How do you do" such and such rather than "How does Rachel do" such and such. But in talking to us, she still has her own special pronouns Deo or Daytoe (for Rachel) and Deo's (for Rachel's).

UPDATE: This child is now a 24-year-old teacher in Boston's Chinatown.

What Foreign Tourists Like in South Korea

The Chosun Ilbo has been doing a series on foreign tourism in South Korea, which has been growing. (Both Mr. & Mrs. Outlier have attended conferences there this year, and enjoyed a bit of tourism on the side.) Here are a few observations about the statistical preferences of tourists from different countries.

On favorite souvenirs:
The most popular souvenirs among Japanese visiting Korea are dried seaweed, kimchi, and ginseng or citron tea from the Namdaemun Market and superstores, according to the Seoul Station branch of Lotte Mart.

Nail clippers are the most popular item among Chinese visitors. "In China, Korean nail clippers are regarded as luxury goods," claimed Chung Myung-jin, president of Cosmos Travel. "Chinese people like gold, so they buy dozens of gold-colored nail clippers when they come to Korea." Gold-plated stainless chopsticks and spoons are also popular.

Southeast Asian tourists usually buy Korean beauty products, which are in vogue in their home countries. Meanwhile, Europeans prefer traditional gifts. "European tourists tend to buy souvenirs at historic sites like Gyeongju, or they buy custom-made Hanbok, or traditional Korean clothing," said Park Eun-sun of KR Travel.
On Japanese vs. Chinese:
According to a survey of visitors in 2008 by the Korea Tourism Organization, more women visited from Japan than men, with 61.9 percent to 38.1 percent. The proportion of individual tourists (38.3 percent) was close to that of group tourists. As the two countries are close geographically and Japanese have a lot of information on Korea, many there feel it is easy to visit without tour guides or prearranged package tours....

A staffer at a beauty treatment shop in Myeong-dong, said, "Many Japanese tourists have cosmetic eyebrow tattoo procedures, manicure or laser body hair removal, which are much cheaper than in Japan." They also like Korean food. Some 69.5 percent of Japanese tourists said Korean food is delicious. Food topped the list of souvenirs they buy with a whopping 67.1 percent. Japanese tourists stayed in Korea briefly but spent a lot of money. Each of them stayed 2.7 nights and spent $1,136 ($420 per day) on average....

Chinese tourist stayed on average 6.8 nights and spent $1,413 ($207 per day). Many visited Korea for the first time and were on package tours with group visas. Hanatour spokesman Chung Ki-yoon said, "Many Chinese tourists are on package tours of seven Southeast Asian countries."...

Haban Tour spokesman Woo Hyun-ryang said, "The Chinese are used to huge cultural monuments like Taishan, the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City, so they usually complain even Mt. Seorak is just like a hill at the back of their village." This means they need other special programs.

Chinese tourists from different regions also had very different tastes. Those from inland urban areas like Beijing preferred Jeju Island, while those from the booming industrial centers such as Guangzhou, Chengdu, or Shenyang liked to visit Myeong-dong and Dongdaemun shopping districts in Seoul. Rich Chinese visitors enjoyed buying designer goods at Lotte or Shinsegae department stores in Myeong-dong, Seoul, or at Centum City in Busan. Food is the biggest problem for the Chinese tourists, who usually complain that Korean food is not fatty enough for them.
via The Marmot's Hole

23 November 2009

One Child's Language: at 36 months

Social notes: Rachel was very generous about taking toys to donate to her school before we left China. But she displayed almost no emotion on her last day of school, when her principal (and favorite auntie) was teary and her mama was too choked up to say anything. It was only after we got to Hong Kong and started talking about what her life in Honolulu would be like that Rachel protested, "But Rachel likes China." She also liked travelling, because she had one or the other of us to herself all the time. Unlike us, she loves to spend time in waiting rooms and hotel lobbies.

Especially while travelling, we tend to praise her for being a "big girl." But she is afraid to leave babyhood completely behind, so she often reminds us, "When Rachel sucks Rachel's thumb Rachel is a little baby," and then promptly demonstrates. She has also invented some baby talk expressions, like titidada. At other times, her conversational style is very adult, like when she says, "Mama, mama! Rachel has two questions. The first question is .... The second question is ...." She also likes to give long-winded explanations why she should or shouldn't do something in a particular way, often word-for-word renditions of what one or the other of us has told her.

We had far better luck finding a preschool for Rachel in Honolulu than in China. Bamboo Shoots was one we just walked into one day. It was just about to convert to Montessori methods. We walked in during naptime, when the administrator was feeling relaxed and talkative, and had a good look around. We were later told that Rachel shows some of the same problems Chinese immigrant kids have when they enter American preschools: they require a lot of adult attention, and they have trouble going off and doing things on their own. She is adjusting well though. Having a year of Chinese school has helped. And she hasn't had any trouble getting used to sandwiches for lunch, as some of the Asian immigrant kids have. Rachel seems to be only full haole (Caucasian) kid in the school (as in China).

Intellectual notes: Rachel is very, very fond of puzzles now. She is pretty quick to spot where each shape goes. After the first time or two, she has just about memorized how to put the simpler puzzles together. She is also a reading maniac. We usually make a trip to the State library's children's book section every week. She can spend hours listening to us read all the way through each week's stack of books again and again. She is especially interested in transportation, which might have something to do with all the travelling we've done recently. She likes looking for contrasts between the "new kind of airplane" (jet) and the "old kind of airplane" (propeller craft), between city buses (with more than one door) and tour buses (with only one door), between fast ferry boats (hovercraft and hydrofoils) and slow ferry boats (like the Star Ferry in Hong Kong). In fact, she always tries to compare and contrast new things she learns about, to establish new categories or better define old ones. Her other most absorbing hobby right now is testing every water fountain she sees. She had an interest in water fountains before we went to China but had to do without them for a year. Her old fascination immediately revived as soon as we got into the Taipei airport.

Language notes: Her pronunciation keeps improving. Right now she's working on getting her word-initial consonant clusters under control (/fr, sp, st, str, tr/ etc.) She hasn't got /f/ separate from /s/ yet, so straight sounds like freight. She has just started to work on eliminating the /w/ she used to put on over and out, and the /n/ she used to put on the front of on and in. In other words, she has started to master the glottal stop (the abrupt onset before words starting with vowels in English; the sound in uh-uh 'no' that helps distinguish it from uh-huh 'yes'). She also noticed a good while ago that Daddy pronounces why—her favorite word—with a /hw/ sound while Mama pronounces it with a plain /w/. She claims to use both pronunciations.

Rachel was just beginning to speak a good bit of Chinese by the time we left Zhongshan, but now she has just about quit speaking it. As soon as we hit Honolulu, she ceased hearing it around her so much and apparently decided there was no more use for it. In Hong Kong, we took her out to a nice playground near our hotel where she played with a couple of English-speaking kids her age. She wouldn't say a word to them. Instead, she remarked to us, "They're speaking English. Why?" At Bamboo Shoots, she has been slow to speak with the other kids, but it's probably just her natural shyness. One of the teaching assistants there speaks Chinese but couldn't extract Chinese responses from Rachel. When we would ask her if she spoke any Chinese at school, she would answer, "But it's an English-speaking school!"

She hardly ever sings much at home now. She hasn't learned the new school's repertoire yet. But she is an avid and highly interactive story-telling audience. She nods as you go, asks for meanings of words she hasn't learned yet, and asks so many questions sometimes that it's hard to keep the story moving. She never drifts off during a story, but keeps asking for one more. She likes to participate by filling in salient words in the stories she has read many times. She also likes us to spell ("psell") words, and always assigns us one to spell while brushing her teeth.

Her most remarkable achievement in our eyes is her discovery of what syllables are. On the way home from school one day in China, she asked why "e-le-phant" has three words but "bear" has only one. She was probably carrying over into English what her teachers had told her about Chinese characters, since each character is one syllable. We taught her the word syllable (which comes out Seminole when she says it) and now she can count off the syllables of any word you give her—fairly accurately too. Although she does tend to like to repeat the last syllable enough times to get through all the fingers on one hand.

UPDATE: This child is now a 24-year-old teacher in Boston's Chinatown.

One Child's Language: at 32 months (and abroad)

Social notes: Rachel is experimenting with social graces now. She plays with using please and thank you sometimes, and is working up to saying xiexie ('thank you') and zaijian ('goodbye') aloud in Chinese. Her strategy seems to be to listen and repeat to herself for a long time while she is mastering something new, then finally perform out loud.

She often gets very upset if we let a guest into the house without her help, or see someone off before she gets to wave goodbye. One day, Daddy came home from school in the afternoon, let himself in, and went in to find Rachel and Mama in the kitchen. Rachel immediately cried that she wanted to meet Daddy at the door. So Daddy went back outside in the stairwell, Rachel sent him down to the landing, then she walked down the steps to greet him on the landing with "Hello, how are you?" She nodded her head in response to "Fine,thank you. And you?" and then turned around and said "Well, let's go up." She repeated this ritual about ten times before our downstairs neighbors, Uncle Xu and Auntie Ni, came out to invite Rachel to play with them.

For quite a long time now, she has not gotten tearful when we drop her off at school, and she has a "best friend" there now. When she hears classmates' names she can point them out, but she won't say their names out loud to us.

Intellectual notes: In Freudian jargon, she still shows a lot of typically "anal retentive" behavior. She is compulsive about arranging and matching things. If you slip out of your shoes, she is liable to run off with them to arrange them carefully among other shoes. When she gets dressed, she is always concerned that everything should match. After eating, she will often get down and rearrange the magnetic letters and numbers on the refrigerator door. She is more concerned about matching shapes than about sequential order, so she groups 694, 25, 17, 38, VY, KX, MN, IL, CG, FR, BD, OU, and so forth.

Language notes: Rachel is speaking more and more Chinese. Her teachers say she is becoming more verbal at school. She must be saying a lot more Chinese to herself than to anyone else. She is quite aware of the tones in Chinese and experiments with them sometimes. Everyone at school tries to get her to say simple greetings to them, but they are content for now if she simply shows she heard and understood them.

Her pronunciation keeps improving. She has /s/ and /z/, /ch/ and /j/ pretty much under control. When she demonstrated that she could produce a clear /s/ one day on the say home from school, Daddy praised her and asked her when she would be able to say /k/ as well. She said "Soon."

She still sings school songs at home and also sings a lot of English songs. She sings This Old Man up through number five or six. (On one of our excursions she got to see a beehive up close, so she no longer needs prompting for "hive".) Her going-to-sleep ritual every night includes the same series of songs: Sleep Baby Sleep, Teddy Bear ("Dayto" Bear), Mockingbird (Hush Little Baby), and then Angels Watching Over Me ("That Guy Is Watching Over Me"). She sings along on all of them and recently recorded them on tape, singing by herself.

She knows the lowercase as well as uppercase printed letters now. (After trying to think of easy terms other than "big/little" to distinguish the two styles, we just settled on "uppercase/lowercase"—and so has Rachel.) She often utterly loses her chain of thought when her eye catches any letter or Chinese character she can read. She reads off numbers on license plates or hotel-room doors as she walks by. Sometimes she spells words from right to left.

UPDATE: This child is now a 24-year-old teacher in Boston's Chinatown.

22 November 2009

The Near Eastern Crisis of 1875-78

From Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430-1950, by Mark Mazower (Vintage, 2006), pp. 167-169:
Beginning with a peasant uprising in Bosnia-Hercegovina, the troubles spread in 1876 to Bulgaria and the Danubian provinces and ended with an invasion by the Russian army the following year. The Treaty of San Stefano, which Russia imposed on the empire early in 1878, created a vast new Bulgarian state which passed just to the north of Salonica itself and cut it off from its hinterland. Even after the other Great Powers forced Russia to back down and tore up the San Stefano agreement, there was no disguising the humiliation suffered by the Porte: at the Congress of Berlin, Serbia was declared independent, an autonomous (if smaller) Bulgaria was established under Russian control, Cyprus was occupied by British troops (as the price for supporting the Turks) and the Great Powers forced the Ottoman authorities to pledge a further programme of administrative reforms.

These events deeply affected Salonica. As always in time of war, the city was in a febrile state—filled with soldiers, requisitioning agents, tax-collectors and rumours. Muslim notables criticized the diplomacy of the Porte and feared for the first time "being driven out of Europe." The Bulgarian insurrection actually broke out just three days before the killing of the consuls in Salonica; rumours of the rising had reached the city, together with reports of outrages on Muslim villagers and of plans to drive them from their homes. At one point the authorities feared that Salonica's Christians too would rise to prompt a Russian advance on the city itself, and the Vali warned he would quell any insurrection in the harshest manner. "I know him to be of the party in Turkey," wrote the British consul, "who believe the Eastern Question can only be solved by the destruction, or at least the expatriation of all Christians from the European provinces of Turkey, and replacing them by Circassians and colonists from Asia."

The spectacle of vast forced movements of populations crisscrossing the region was no fantasy. While the eyes of Europe were fixed—thanks to Gladstone's loud condemnation of the "Bulgarian horrors"—on the Christian victims of the war, thousands of Muslim refugees from Bosnia, Bulgaria and the Russian army were headed south. Added to those who had earlier fled the Russians in the Caucasus—somewhere between 500,000 and 600,000 Circassians and Nogai Tatars had arrived in the empire between 1856 and 1864—the refugee influx which accompanied the waning of Ottoman power was well and truly under way. A Commission for the Settlement of Refugees was created, and the figures provided by this organization show that more than half a million refugees crossed into the empire between 1876 and 1879 alone.

In January 1878, the Porte ordered the governor of Salonica to find lodging for fifty thousand throughout the province. The following month it was reported that "the whole country is full of Circassian families, fleeing from the Russian army and the Servians, in long lines of carts ... panic-stricken, they strive to embark for Asia Minor and Syria." While Albanian Ghegs and uprooted Nogai Tatars settled around the town, thousands more left weekly on steamers bound for Smyrna and Beirut. Many of these refugees had been settled in the Bulgarian lands only a decade earlier; now for a second time they were being uprooted because of Russian military action. Destitute, exploited by local land-owners, many—especially Circassian—men formed robber bands, and became a byword for crime in the region. Two years after the end of hostilities, there were still more than three thousand refugees, many suffering from typhus or smallpox, receiving relief in the city, and another ten thousand in the vicinity. The Mufti of Skopje estimated that a total of seventy thousand were still in need of subsistence in the Sandjak of Pristina. By 1887, so many immigrants from the lost provinces had moved to Salonica that house rents there had risen appreciably.

The political outlook for Ottoman rule in European Turkey was grim. Only Western intervention had saved the empire from defeat at the hands of the Russian army; the consequent losses in Europe were great. The powers openly discussed the future carve-up of further territories, and Austrians, Bulgarians and Greeks fixed their eyes on Salonica. As discussions began at the Congress of Berlin on the territorial settlement, one observer underlined the need for a further sweeping reform of Ottoman institutions and the creation of an "impartial authority" to govern what was left. In view of the patchy record of the past forty years' reform efforts, few would have given the imperial system long to live. Indeed many expected its imminent collapse, especially after the youthful Sultan Abdul Hamid suspended the new constitution barely two years after it had been unveiled. But they had to wait longer than they thought. The empire had another few decades of life left, and in that time Salonica itself prospered, grew and changed its appearance more radically than ever before.

Belated Ottoman Religious Reform

From Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430-1950, by Mark Mazower (Vintage, 2006), pp. 152-153:
In 1851 Christian testimony was admitted in a local criminal court for the first time, but it was not for another decade that it was given decisive weight when contradicted by Muslim witnesses. "Are we the masters of this empire or not?" demanded some of the beys, protesting on the "part of Islamism" against the constant infringement by foreign powers of the "rights of the Turkish nation." A visiting dervish preached that Europe was "devoted to the extermination of Muslims," and claimed that the sultan, by giving in to their demands, had shown himself to be no more than a gavur. "Let us massacre the infidels whom the Prophet and our first Sultans conquered," he went on, "And then we will go throughout Frenghistan [the land of the Franks] sword in hand, and all will be well with us." When Abdul Mecid died in 1861, the view in the local coffeehouses was that he had been "too favourably disposed to Christians," and many of Salonica's Muslims, including highly placed functionaries, openly hoped that his successor would bring back the janissaries and revoke the reforms.

This did not happen. Instead the number of non-Muslims in the civil service rose, and in 1868 a Council of State with non-Muslim members was created. In the provinces progress was slower: as late as 1867, justice in Salonica was still loaded against non-Muslims, taxes remained inequitable and the clause relating to Christians being appointed to official positions remained a "dead letter." Ibrahim Bey, the mufti, resisted reform of the local courts, and as he was very popular among the poorer Muslims of the city, Salonica's governors hesitated to take him on. But the lead from the top was clear: the Porte instructed Salonica's mollah to speak respectfully when he addressed the Greek metropolitan, and to refer politely to the "Christian" religion. "Looking at things reasonably," wrote the British ambassador, Sir Henry Bulwer in 1864, "it is but just to observe that this government is about the most tolerant in Europe."

The old ideology of the sultan as Defender of the Faith was now no longer appropriate for the new-look empire. It was supplanted by a new creed of Ottomanism, an allegiance to the dynasty itself that supposedly crossed religious boundaries. As the government gazette for the province declared in May 1876:
Even though for centuries among us there has not existed something we might call public opinion, on account of our different religions, nonetheless Ottomans, Christians, Jews and in a word all those bearing the name of Osmanli and living under the sceptre of His Imperial Excellency have lived as faithful subjects of all ranks, as patriots and as a single unit of nationalities, each lending a helping hand to the other as brothers, none ever daring to attack the honour, property, life or religious customs of the other, and everyone enjoying complete freedom in the exercise of his social privileges.
The new policy was underlined in religious holidays and official ceremonies. After the Ottoman fleet arrived in port, Greek priests from the city performed mass for its Christian sailors in the Beshchinar gardens, and Turkish naval officers complimented the archbishop on a "very appropriate sermon." When the chief rabbi Raphael Ascher Covo died at the end of 1874 after twenty-six years in office, his funeral was attended by the staff of the governor, the president of the town council, the Greek archbishop, consuls and other notables: the procession was "one of the largest ever witnessed in European Turkey." All shops were closed, Jewish firemen in the service of the North British and Mercantile Insurance companies provided the guard of honour lining the streets, and bells were rung as the bier passed the Orthodox cathedral." A century earlier, such an occasion would have been inconceivable.

20 November 2009

Rise and Fall of the Nutmeg Monopoly

From The Spice Islands Voyage: The Quest for Alfred Wallace, the Man Who Shared Darwin's Discovery of Evolution, by Tim Severin (Carroll & Graf, 1997), pp. 117-119:
The conditions of soil and climate on Banda were so perfect for nutmeg trees that most of the trees were planted naturally by the same species of Tine and very handsome fruit pigeons' which Wallace observed. These birds had such a wide-opening beak that they could swallow an entire nutmeg fruit and pass the round seed undamaged through the gut, so that it grew where it fell. The labourers had to keep the saplings free of weeds, tend the tall kenari trees which provided essential shade for the nutmeg trees, and pick the fruit. Obligingly, in that warm equatorial climate, the nutmegs gave their crop all year long. It is calculated that, in nearly two centuries of colonial rule, Holland produced a billion guilders' worth of these spices from their tiny Banda holdings. The income from the Banda spice monopoly so dominated Dutch foreign policy that Holland offered the island of Manhattan to the British if they would drop their claim to the minuscule islet of Run in the Bandas barely three kilometres long and one and a half kilometres wide. Even more remarkably, Run itself grew no nutmeg trees. The Dutch ripped them up in order to concentrate virtually the entire world production of nutmeg and mace on the other Bandas.

Slavery in the Dutch Indies was not abolished until 1862, so there must have been slaves on Banda when Wallace visited there in the late 1800s. Yet he says nothing about them and – astonishingly for an Owenite socialist – he voiced his strong approval of the Dutch system of monopoly plantation though he knew this opinion would raise hackles in Victorian England. State monopolies, he argued, were the only way for a colony to be viable. The mother country had to find some way of paying the huge cost of its colonial efforts, bringing education, peace and a 'civilising influence' to unruly native peoples, and if the state controlled a lucrative monopoly, that cost could be met. It was far better, Wallace argued, for the state to reap the profits than to allow the local economy to pass into the hands of private businesses, who would exploit the natives and give nothing in return. The only condition which Wallace put forward was that the monopoly should be of a product not essential to the natives, who must be able to live without it. In this respect, of course, nutmeg was ideal; it was a luxury, not a subsistence food.

In truth, by Wallace's time the state's monopoly in nutmeg was in tatters. Nutmegs were being grown illegally elsewhere in the Moluccas, and the French had established nutmeg plantations in Mauritius, using seeds smuggled in from the Spice Islands. Corruption had been so widespread among the superintending officials in Banda and Amsterdam that tight control of the nutmeg trade was a sham. The Dutch authorities abandoned the system within a decade of Wallace's visit, and handed over ownership of Banda's nutmeg gardens to the perkiniers, the planters who had previously held them on licence. They in their turn would go under, unable to survive in world competition. The nutmeg plantations fell into neglect and Banda began a long, slow slide into obscurity while, ironically, the impoverished planters came to be replaced by a new generation of Bandanese orang kaya who re-established the age-old trade links. Twenty years after Wallace's visit, the wealthiest man on the islands was a Javanese Arab trader, Bin Saleh Baadilla, who traded in pearls and bird products. His warehouse contained skins of Birds of Paradise prepared by the natives of Kai, Aru and New Guinea, as well as the feathers of other exotic and coloured species from the rainforest. Where his predecessors had sent the bird-skins to decorate the fans and turbans of a few Indian and Malay potentates, Bin Saleh now had a larger and more voracious market. He shipped his bird-skins to the milliners of Europe, who at the peak of the fashion craze were said to be importing 50,000 bird-skins a year to provide decorations for ladies' hats.

One Child's Language: at 30 months (and abroad)

Social notes: Rachel is a full member of the family now. She has her own independent moods, desires, habits, hobbies, and insights. Her many observations intrigue and delight us and her usually buoyant mood lifts us when we are feeling cold and discouraged. She is more and more articulate about the specialness of our family relationship. She likes to repeat "Mama, Daddy, Rachel" as she points to each of us, sometimes misnaming us for our collective amusement. She often calls Daddy "Mama" and vice versa. When she does, she just smiles and repeats her error to reaffirm it. She has also discovered our given names and sometimes uses them to amuse us. She likes to sit us all next to each other and often calls for three-person hugs. She gives nice strong hugs now. She likes to refer to us as "this baby's Mama" and the like. When we were travelling, she once said, "If Rachel goes to Guangzhou by Rachel's self, Rachel will cry."

She continues to feel more comfortable with familiar people. She warms up to students and people we visit much quicker than she used to, and is willing to show off a bit for them when she's in the mood. She readily waves goodbye to everyone and anyone—even the most obnoxious of the "hello, hello" types. She really likes her teachers at school and knows them all by name. They really like her too, and spend a lot of time teaching her Chinese and eliciting English words from her. Rachel recognizes her classmates when we run into them around town, and knows many of their names. She has also become much more attached to and affectionate toward her stuffed animals, and likes to arrange them around her when she's sitting on her potty chair or lying down to sleep.

Intellectual notes: Rachel's compulsion about arranging things has reached the stage where she will take every loose object in the house and make long lines across the floor. When she finishes a line she calls us to come look, and then spends some time sucking her thumb, rubbing her belly button, and surveying her work with an artist's eye.

She also likes her routines to be just so. When Daddy doesn't do exactly what Mama did the day before, she will object. One day, Daddy sang Old King Cole as he stirred Rachel's milk into her oatmeal, inadvertently establishing a ritual. Only the living room will serve for the nighttime milk-drinking and teeth-brushing routine.

Right before we took our winter trip, Rachel started to ask WHY everything. "Oh, that boy has no shoes on! Why?" "Oh, that's a steam locomotive! Why?" Now, about three weeks later, she is trying out "that's why" constructions: "Rachel's cold, that's why Rachel has no pants on." (She still gets it backwards sometimes.)

She has begun to exercise her imagination and sense of humor a lot. She will turn herself into a roaring lion, an old lady with a walking stick, a vendor and shopper at the market, or a train passenger with bags and ticket. One night, she said "Rachel is sleeping with Rachel's eyes open because Rachel doesn't have eyelids." She laughs "Rachel made a moo-take!" when she slips up, and likes to deliberately set out to make us laugh with funny faces, words, or movements.

Language notes: Rachel makes a clear distinction between occasions to use Chinese and English. Sometimes when we use Chinese, she will protest, "But Daddy's an English speaker!" She is still not very talkative at school, but gets chatty in English as soon as we show up. She frequently asks "How Rachel say X in Chinese?" Sometimes she gets confused: "How Rachel say China in English?" She has learned to read a few more characters: 中国 (Zhongguo, China), 美国 (Meiguo, the US), 中山大学 (Zhongshan Daxue, Zhongshan Univ.), and 园林管理处 (Yuanlin Guanlichu, Forest Park Management). [Well, the last only in the context of the sign in the photo that we passed on the way to her school and back everyday.] She sat up in bed one night and said "Apple is pingguo" and then lay back down to sleep.

Reading park rules, Shiqi, Zhongshan City, Guangdong, China

Her teachers were astounded to find that she knew all the letters of the English alphabet. (They seem rather easily astounded.) She knows how to spell her own name, and can say the 7 syllables of her full name pretty fluently. Her grammar is coming along nicely: "Rachel thought this walrus had a blue shirt on." "If Rachel runs down this ramp slowly, Rachel won't fall down."

NAME BO LIQIU, WEIGHT 29 lbs. HEIGHT 89 cm. (35 inches)
Able to adapt very quickly to kindergarten life. Comes to school on time everyday. Asks for leave when needed. Able to play together with her little playmates. Likes to listen to stories. Can chant simple nursery songs. Can do morning exercise and play games. With teacher's guidance, can do drawing exercises. Ability to get along independently has improved. Regularly washes her hands before eating and wipes her mouth afterwards. Can eat by herself. Noon nap normal. But usually drinks little water. Hope next semester to strive for even greater improvement.

19 November 2009

One Child's Language: at 27 months (and abroad)

Rachel's command of Chinese is growing. She still doesn't volunteer to speak any, but she understands simple Mandarin and Cantonese at school. Her teachers teach her Chinese and she teaches them English, correcting them if they make mistakes. In Chinese, she can count quickly to ten, and knows basic body parts, items of clothing, and animals. At home she rehearses songs from school. In fact, she is now able to carry a tune (as well as her parents at least) and is sensitive to rhythm and rhyme. She frequently wanders around singing songs and rhymes to herself.

She loves to recite the Mother Goose rhymes we read her. She knows Pease Porridge Hot and Eeny Meeny Miny Moe by heart, and objects if we don't stop to let her fill in the rhyming words in many others that we read her. The Grand Old Duke of York is one of those she loves to help recite. One time her Daddy said "Eeny Meeny Miny Yes" and she responded by trying to make all the lines rhyme with yes. She goes crazy saying Goosey Goosey Gander. When Daddy recited a nursery rhyme destroying the rhyme and using Rachel's worst pronunciation, she said, "No, that not right." Then she recited the rhyme and declared, "That's right."

We have worried that her English pronunciation won't improve quickly, since we are the only native speakers of English that she talks to, and we already understand her idiosyncracies. But lately she has begun to mind her /p/ and /b/ and /m/ sounds. One day she managed to put /b/ in bubble bath. Since then, she has been changing a few of her all-purpose /d/ and /t/ to /b/ and /p/ when they should be. The /g/ and /k/ sounds may not be far behind. Any sounds that Chinese and English share should get double reinforcement. But old pronunciation habits die hard. She still has to stop and think before saying her name with an initial /r/ rather than /d/.

She is still eager to read. She pretends to read things sometimes, moving her head as if she's scanning the lines. She has also started to read Chinese, starting with the characters for Zhongshan City (中山市). She spots them on signs or city vehicles all over the place. We're helping her with some basic ones like Fire (火), Woods (林), Person (人), Water (水), and the like. But right now she is more eager to sing and recite rhymes than to read letters. She recites rather than reads many of her favorite passages in books.

She knows clearly now that she is dealing with two separate languages, and she doesn't object any more if we English speakers use Chinese with her. She elicits the names of the languages by counting in one language and then the other, asking "What Rachel saying?" after each series of numbers. She also knows how to ask "What that mean?" if she doesn't know the English equivalent of a Chinese word. Her nose, which is often runny these days, she calls bizi as often as she calls it her nose.

At the Fruit Bat Market in Manado

From The Spice Islands Voyage: The Quest for Alfred Wallace, the Man Who Shared Darwin's Discovery of Evolution, by Tim Severin (Carroll & Graf, 1997), p. 230:
Wallace had also eaten fricassee of bat in Minahasa. Today bat is still a popular local dish, and the President of Indonesia himself is said to enjoy a meal of bat. At our request Saskar took us to the street market in Manado city where, on most mornings, a bat-seller arrived with his box of bats for sale. He brought them in a closely slatted wooden box, with a little trap-door in the top. Inside the box the bright pinpoints of bat eyes stared out of the gloom, and it was just possible to distinguish the sharp, foxy faces of the creatures themselves. From time to time a black claw worked its way through a gap in the box slats to grasp and scrabble in the daylight. The shoppers strolled up and down checking the street market's vegetables and other foodstuffs, and a housewife stopped to ask the bat-seller if she could see his wares. He flung open the trap-door on his box, reached inside and pulled out a furiously scrabbling bat. The creature tried to grab the sides of the box with the desperation of kitten being pulled from a bag. The bat-seller then displayed the animal and spread it out, a wing in each hand, to show off the chubby body. The shopper, after poking and prodding the bat, liked the purchase, and the seller swung the bat through the air and brought the animal's head down on the pavement with a sharp smack. Then he tossed the still fluttering corpse to his assistant for the fur to be frizzled off with a blowtorch.

13 November 2009

Disasters for Ottoman "Soft Power" in 1579

From the luridly titled "Global Politics in the 1580s: One Canal, Twenty Thousand Cannibals, and an Ottoman Plot to Rule the World" by Giancarlo Casale in Journal of World History 18(2007):277-281 (on Project MUSE):
During the lengthy grand vizierate of Sokollu Mehmed Pasha in the 1560s and 1570s—the Ottomans had pursued what we might define today as a policy of "soft empire" in the Indian Ocean. Under Sokollu Mehmed's direction, this involved a strategy to expand Ottoman influence not through direct military intervention, but rather through the development of ideological, commercial, and diplomatic ties with the various Muslim communities of the region. Only in a few instances (most notably in the case of the Muslim principality of Aceh in western Indonesia) did Istanbul provide direct military assistance in exchange for a formal recognition of Ottoman suzerainty. Elsewhere, a much more informal relationship was the rule, even in places like Gujarat and Calicut where elites enjoyed extremely close commercial, professional, and sometimes familial relations with Istanbul. Despite this high level of contact, tributary relationships or other direct political ties between local states and the Ottoman empire were not normally encouraged.

In the absence of a formal imperial infrastructure, however, Sokollu Mehmed took steps to align the interests of these disparate Muslim communities with those of the Ottoman state in other ways. Evidence suggests, for example, that he established a network of imperial commercial factors throughout the region who bought and sold merchandise for the sultan's treasury. And at the same time, the grand vizier also began financing pro-Ottoman religious organizations overseas, especially those in predominantly non-Muslim states with influential Muslim trading elites, such as Calicut and Ceylon. In exchange for annual shipments of gold currency from the Ottoman treasury, local preachers in such overseas mosques agreed to read the Friday call to prayer in the name of the Ottoman sultan, and in so doing acknowledged him, if not as their immediate overlord, as a kind of religiously sanctioned "meta-sovereign" over the entire Indian Ocean trading sphere. As "Caliph" and "Protector of the Holy Cities," the Ottoman sultan thus acted as guarantor of the safety and security of the maritime trade and pilgrimage routes to and from Mecca and Medina, and in exchange could demand a certain measure of allegiance from Muslims throughout the region.

As long as it lasted, this strategy of "soft empire" seems to have worked remarkably well. During Sokollu Mehmed's term in office (1565–1579), trade through the Red Sea and Persian Gulf flourished as never before, until by the 1570s the Portuguese gave up their efforts to maintain a naval blockade between the Indian Ocean and the markets of the Ottoman Empire. Additionally, the concept of the Ottoman sultan as "universal sovereign" became ever more widely recognized, such that the Sultan's name was read in the Friday call to prayer of mosques from the Maldives to Ceylon, and from Calicut to Sumatra. Even in the powerful and rapidly expanding Mughal empire, whose Sunni Muslim dynasty was the only one that could legitimately compete with the Ottomans in terms of imperial grandeur, a certain amount of deference toward Istanbul appears to have been the rule.

But then, in 1579—perhaps the single most pivotal year in the political history of the early modern world—a series of cataclysmic and nearly simultaneous international events conspired to undermine this carefully constructed system from almost every conceivable direction. Most obviously, Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, the grand architect of the Ottomans' "soft empire," was unexpectedly struck down by an assassin's blade while receiving petitions at his private court in Istanbul. At almost exactly the same time, in distant Sumatra, the Acehnese sultan 'Ala ad-Din Ri'ayat Syah also died, ushering in an extended period of political and social turmoil that would deprive the Ottomans of their closest ally in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, in Iberia, the Ottoman sultan's archrival King Philip II of Spain was preparing to annex Portugal and all of her overseas possessions, following the sudden death of the heirless Dom Sebastião on the Moroccan battlefield of al-Kasr al-Kabir. And in the highlands of Abyssinia, again at almost exactly the same time, Christian forces handed the Ottomans a crushing and unexpected defeat at the battle of Addi Qarro, after which they captured the strategic port of Arkiko, re-established direct contact with the Portuguese, and threatened Ottoman control of the Red Sea for the first time in more than two decades.

All of these events, despite the vast physical distances that separated them, impinged directly on the Ottomans' ability to maintain "soft power" in the Indian Ocean. Even more ominously, they all took place alongside yet another emerging menace from Mughal India, where the young and ambitious Emperor Akbar had begun to openly challenge the very basis of Ottoman "soft power" by advancing his own rival claim to universal sovereignty over the Islamic world.

Of all these newly emerging threats, the Mughal challenge was in many ways the most potentially disturbing. Unlike the others, it was also a challenge mounted incrementally, and as a result became gradually apparent only over the course of several years. In fact, it may have begun as early as 1573, the year Akbar seized the Gujarati port of Surat and thus gained control of a major outlet onto the Indian Ocean for the first time. Less than two years later, he sent several ladies of his court, including his wife and his paternal aunt, on an extended pilgrimage to Mecca, where they settled and began to distribute alms regularly in the emperor's name. Concurrently, Akbar became involved in organizing and financing the hajj for Muslim travelers of more modest means as well: appointing an imperial official in charge of the pilgrimage, setting aside funds to pay the travel expenses of all pilgrims from India wishing to make the trip, and arranging for a special royal ship to sail to Jiddah every year for their passage. Moreover, by means of this ship Akbar began sending enormous quantities of gold to be distributed in alms for the poor of Mecca and Medina, along with sumptuous gifts and honorary vestments for the important dignitaries of the holy cities. In the first year alone, these gifts and donations amounted to more than 600,000 rupees and 12,000 robes of honor; in the next year, they included an additional 100,000 rupees as a personal gift for the Sharif of Mecca. Similar shipments continued annually until the early 1580s.

To be sure, none of this ostensibly pious activity was threatening to the Ottomans in and of itself. Under different circumstances, the Ottoman authorities may even have viewed largesse of this kind as a sign of loyalty, or as a normal and innocuous component of the public religious obligations of a ruler of Akbar's stature. But in 1579, in the midst of the complex interplay of other world events already described above, it acquired a dangerous and overtly political significance—particularly because it coincided with Akbar's promulgation of the so-called "infallibility decree" in September of that year. In the months that followed, Akbar's courtiers began, at his urging, to experiment with an increasingly syncretic, messianic, and Akbar-centric interpretation of Islam known as the din-i ilahi. And Akbar himself, buttressed by this new theology of his own creation, soon began to openly mimic the Ottoman sultans' posturing as universal sovereigns, by assuming titles such as Bādishāh-i Islām and Imām-i 'Ādil that paralleled almost exactly the Ottomans' own dynastic claims.

Against this incendiary backdrop, Akbar's endowments in Mecca and his generous support for the hajj thus became potent ideological weapons rather than simple markers of piety—weapons that threatened to destabilize Ottoman leadership of the Islamic world by allowing Akbar to usurp the sultan's prestigious role as "Protector of the Holy Cities." Justifiably alarmed, the Porte responded by forbidding the distribution of alms in Akbar's name in Mecca (it was nevertheless continued in secret for several more years), and by ordering the entourage of ladies from Akbar's court to return to India with the next sailing season. These, however, were stopgap measures at best. In the longer term, it was clear that a more serious reorientation of Ottoman policy was in order if the empire was to effectively respond to Akbar's gambit.

Thus, by the end of 1579, a perfect storm of political events in Istanbul, the Western Mediterranean, Ethiopia, Southeast Asia, and Mughal India had all conspired to bring an end to the existing Ottoman system of "soft empire" in the Indian Ocean. As a result, the Ottoman leadership was faced with a stark choice: to do nothing, and allow its prestige and influence in the region to fade into irrelevance; or instead, through aggressive military expansion, to attempt to convert this soft empire into a more concrete system of direct imperial rule. Because of an ongoing war with Iran, and because the 1580s were in general a period of political retrenchment and economic crisis in the Empire, many in Istanbul seem to have resigned themselves to the former option as the only feasible alternative.
Exactly 400 years later, Saudi "soft power" in the Islamic world would be similarly undermined by the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and it would respond similarly by sponsoring "hard" (violent) countermeasures.

11 November 2009

Earl M. Finch Tribute to Windward Oahu KIAs in World War II

War memorial plaque, Castle Junction, Kaneohe, OahuBack in February 2009, on a sightseeing trip with my mother-in-law, I stopped at Castle Junction in Kane‘ohe, Hawai‘i, to photograph the Kane‘ohe Ranch Building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Nearby was a small monument I had seen many times without stopping to examine it. I was curious about the relationship between one Earl M. Finch of Hattiesburg, Miss., and the AJA soldiers named on the stone, but I never followed up to find out more about him until this Veterans Day. Here are the words carved into the memorial when it was originally erected.
In Memoriam to the men of this community killed in action in World War II

Teruo Fujioka, Kahuku, Oct 26, 1944, France
Stanley K Funai, Waimanalo, Feb 8, 1944, France
Takemitsu Higa, Kahaluu, Dec 1, 1943, Italy
Genichi Hiraoka, Kaneohe, Jul 11, 1944, Italy
Edward Y Ide, Kaneohe, Nov 6, 1943, Italy
Haruo Kawamoto, Kailua, Feb 6, 1944, Italy
Sadao Matsumoto, Waimanalo, Jun 4, 1944, Italy
Kaoru Moriwake, Waikane, Nov 5, 1943, Italy
Shigenori Nakama, Kahuku, Apr 6, 1945, Italy
Yutaka Nezu, Waimanalo, Jan 10, 1944, Italy
Chuji Saito, Waimanalo, Apr 19, 1944, Italy
Takeo Shintani, Kahuku, Jul 6, 1944, Italy
Douglas Tamanaha, Waiahole, Nov 13, 1944, France
Shiro Togo, Kahuku, Oct 24, 1944, France

Presented to the Windward Oahu Community
by Earl M. Finch, Hattiesburg, Miss., March 28, 1946
June Watanabe tells more about Earl M. Finch in a Honolulu Star-Bulletin Kokua Line feature dated 17 March 2001, headlined ‘Patron saint’ of nisei soldiers became outcast.
Question: What happened to Earl Finch of Hattiesburg, Miss., who befriended the Japanese-American soldiers who were stationed in Hattiesburg during World War II? He made the soldiers feel at home when other Americans were turning their backs on them.

Answer: Finch died in his adopted home of Honolulu in 1965 at age 49.

At his funeral service at Central Union Church, then-Gov. John A. Burns delivered the eulogy before hundreds of mourners, including many veterans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Battalion.

Finch was a rancher and businessman in Mississippi who became an outcast when he went out of his way to befriend the nisei soldiers in 1943.

He became known as a "one-man USO" (United Service Organization), "the Patron Saint of the Japanese-American GI" and "a citizen of the world."

"Unpopular though it may have been with his neighbors, Earl recognized that those who were willing to make sacrifices in the face of adversity deserved no less than the hand of friendship," Burns eulogized.

In 1946, after the war, many of the soldiers he befriended chipped in to pay his way to Hawaii, where he was given a hero's welcome. At the time of his death, the Star-Bulletin noted that Finch's arrival in Honolulu 55 years ago was "the biggest reception ever accorded a visiting private citizen."

Among Japanese Americans, Finch was so beloved that many parents named their sons after him. Finch eventually made Hawaii his home, running a small trading company and acting as a talent broker.

Seiji Finch Naya, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, was an orphaned college student in Japan who met Finch when the college's boxing team traveled to Hawaii in 1951.

Finch was so impressed with the young man, he sponsored a four-year scholarship to the University of Hawaii for Naya and eventually adopted him.

Finch also adopted another young man from Japan, Hideo Sakamoto.

Windward motorists may be familiar with the huge boulder, with a plaque, sitting on the makai side of Castle Junction.

Finch and Windward Oahu groups erected the memorial in honor of those who died fighting in World War II and, later, the Korean War.

Anti-Greek Backlash in Salonica, 1821

From Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430-1950, by Mark Mazower (Vintage, 2006), pp. 126-129:
The Greeks in the city rang their church bells, rode through the streets on horseback, wore fine clothes and did not step down from the pavement when they passed a Muslim. To us this indicates the extent of non-Muslim influence there; to [mollah] Haïroullah it was shockingly bold behaviour which would not have been tolerated in Istanbul; prohibited by imperial decree, it was explicable only in terms of the corruption of local police officials.

Despite his dismay, however, at the arrogance of the infidels, Haïroullah did not regard himself as "a fighter of unbelievers"; this was a term he reserved for the high-spending deputy pasha, the notorious Yusuf Bey, whom he also described as "rough and tyrannical," a man who so intimidated the mufti and the janissary agha that they sat quietly with crossed hands in his presence. Yusuf Bey's father, Ismail Bey of Serres, had been described by Leake as "one of the richest and most powerful of the subjects of the sultan, if he can be called a subject who is absolute here, and obeys only such of the sultan's orders as he sees fit, always with a great show of submission." With wealth based on the booming cotton trade, Ismail Bey was enjoying a quiet retirement while his son exerted an almost unchecked mastery over the city. Haïroullah—according to his own account—dared to challenge him at their first meeting. When Yusuf Bey warned that the Greeks were preparing to rise up and would have to be struck a brutal blow, Haïroullah protested: "My God! Who would dare to revolt against Your just power and strength? Rather than tyrannize them better let us behave towards them as friends, so that they will feel gratitude towards us and will not complain."

Haïroullah clearly saw storm clouds ahead. After consulting the Qur'an, he met with the Greek archbishop and advised him to keep his flock in check, "to be more faithful to the laws of the shari'a and to obey the orders of the governor." The two men sat and drank coffee together "like old friends," a fact which spies reported to Yusuf Bey. His suspicions about the mollah's sentiments were strengthened on learning too that one day, sitting at a large cafe outside the Kazantzilar mosque, Haïroullah had been upset by the sight of the body of a dead Christian being carried past, and had exclaimed, "May God forgive them!" Yusuf Bey accused him of having become a giaour—only a Christian, he insisted, would thus have sympathized with the suffering of other Christians—and on 27 February 1821, just as the Greek revolt was about to begin, Haïroullah Effendi was imprisoned in the White Tower. It was from that strategic if unpleasant vantage point—life there was frightening, he wrote, "if one is not accompanied by the thought of all-powerful God"—that he watched the terrifying events of the next months unfold in Salonica.

His fellow prisoners were Christians whose only crime had been to fail to salute Yusuf Bey in the street, or to meet in the cathedral to talk about the Patriarchate, or merely to be a prominent notable in the community. Many were suffering from starvation and thirst. An emissary of the revolutionaries, Aristeidis Pappas, was brought in, badly beaten before he was handed over to the janissary agha to be executed. "Before he left," writes Haïroullah, "forgive me for this, Your Majesty I embraced him and kissed him, because in truth, he was an honourable man and if he was to blame it was out of the goodness of his heart.

A few days later another Greek, Nikola Effendi, was brought in. He had shocking news: the Morea was in revolt, and there was intelligence that the Greeks in and around Salonica were planning to do the same. Yusuf Bey had demanded hostages, and more than four hundred Christians—of whom one hundred were monks from Athos—were under guard in his palace. All these, naturally, were being beaten and mistreated; some had been already killed.

Shortly after this the order came through from the Porte for Haïroullah's release. Yusuf Bey's attitude towards him now changed entirely, and he was sweetness itself; nevertheless, he would not allow him to leave the city immediately: the countryside was not safe and villagers ready to revolt. To Haïroullah's horror, he learned that Yusuf Bey intended to put the hostages to death and was unable to dissuade him: "The same evening half of the hostages were slaughtered before the eyes of the uncouth moutesselim. I closed myself in my room and prayed for the safety of their souls."

"And from that night began the evil. Salonica, that beautiful city, which shines like an emerald in Your honoured crown, was turned into a boundless slaughter-house." Yusuf Bey ordered his men to kill any Christians they found in the streets and for days and nights the air was filled with "shouts, wails, screams." They had all gone mad, killing even children and pregnant women. "What have my eyes not seen, Most Powerful Shah of Shahs?" The metropolitan himself was brought in chains, together with other leading notables, and they were tortured and executed in the square of the flour market. Some were hanged from the plane trees around the Rotonda. Others were killed in the cathedral where they had fled for refuge, and their heads were gathered together as a present for Yusuf Bey. Only the dervish tekkes—whose adepts traditionally retained close ties with Greek monks—provided sanctuary for Christians. "These things and many more, which I cannot describe because the memory alone makes me shudder, took place in the city of Salonica in May of 1821."

09 November 2009

Watershed Face-off: 1979 vs. 1989

While Europeans and Americans are remembering the major transformation of international relations in 1989, economic historian Niall Ferguson argues that 1979 marked a much greater watershed.
The real question about Russian policy today is not whether Russia will invade Ukraine, but whether Gazprom's strategy of investing in new pipelines and gas fields will pay off. Should Gazprom focus on developing its dominant position in the European natural-gas market? Or should the vast gas fields of Russia east of the Urals (Yamal, Arctic, Far East) be given precedence with a view to capturing market share in China? Could Russia one day establish an Organization of Gas Exporting Countries, modeled on the Saudi-dominated oil cartel? Or is the simpler strategy simply to stoke trouble in the Middle East, covertly encouraging the Iranians' nuclear ambitions until the Israelis finally unleash airstrikes, and then reaping the rewards of a new energy price spike?

These questions themselves indicate the limited long-term significance of the Soviet collapse of two decades ago. By comparison, the events of 10 years earlier—in 1979—surely have a better claim to being truly historic. Just think what was happening in the world 30 years ago. The Soviets began their policy of self-destruction by invading Afghanistan. The British started the revival of free-market economics in the West by electing Margaret Thatcher. Deng Xiaoping set China on a new economic course by visiting the United States and seeing for himself what the free market can achieve. And, of course, the Iranians ushered in the new era of clashing civilizations by overthrowing the shah and proclaiming an Islamic Republic.

Thirty years later, each of these four events has had far more profound consequences for the United States and the world than the events of 1989. Today it is the Americans who now find themselves in Afghanistan, fighting the sons of the people they once armed. It is the free-market model of Thatcher and Reagan that seems to lie in ruins, in the wake of the biggest financial crisis since the Depression. Meanwhile, Deng's heirs are rapidly gaining on a sluggish American hyperpower, with Goldman Sachs forecasting that China's GDP could be the biggest in the world by 2027. Finally, the most terrifying legacy of 1979 remains the radical Islamism that inspires not only Iran's leaders, but also a complex and only partly visible network of terrorists and terrorist sympathizers around the world.

In short, 1989 was less of a watershed year than 1979. The reverberations of the fall of the Berlin Wall turned out to be much smaller than we had expected at the time. In essence, what happened was that we belatedly saw through the gigantic fraud of Soviet superpower. But the real trends of our time—the rise of China, the radicalization of Islam, and the rise and fall of market fundamentalism—had already been launched a decade earlier. Thirty years on, we are still being swept along by the historic waves of 1979. The Berlin Wall is only one of many relics of the Cold War to have been submerged by them.

07 November 2009

One Child's Language: at 24 months (and abroad)

Rachel celebrated her birthday in China this year. We used the occasion to invite all of our sophomore class students over to our apartment for tea and snacks. Rachel was overwhelmed. But two people brought cakes (most of which we prevented ourselves and Rachel from eating) and she got to blow out two candles. Shortly after her birthday, she started going to the Number 2 Kindergarten in Shiqi town, Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province. It is about a 10-minutes walk from home, but Rachel can stretch it into 30 or more minutes when she walks home. She examines puddles, ramps, steps, curbs, passing vehicles (especially walking tractors), the chickens in one front yard, and the regulars who wave at her or come out to touch her.

Culture shock: For a long time Rachel would just stick her thumb in her mouth and and ask us to pick her up when anyone else wanted to talk to her or pick her up. She has been subjected to a lot of physical and vocal attention here; we had expected as much. But she has gradually begun to deal with the attention a bit more confidently. After our students assault her, she will ask us "They just want to be Rachel's friends?" She dodges or brushes aside most passing maulers now, and lets one or two of the more familiar people pick her up. But for the first two months or so, she was in deep culture shock and very fussy and clingy. She still won't say "thank you" or "good-bye" to anyone in either Chinese or English.

It was as hard for us as it was for her the first day we dropped her off at kindergarten. It was really sink or swim. She had had some setbacks in her toilet-training because of all the travel and stress she went through just before her second birthday. The first week of kindergarten, she wet her pants at least once a day, she wasn't napping the required three hours [!] each day, and she was clinging pretty close to the principal all day. But now, she talks happily about "Rachel's new aunties" and "Rachel's school" (it helps that Mama and Daddy also have a school), rarely comes home with wet clothes, and is almost always in a pleasant, curious, and talkative mood all the way home and into the evening. She enjoys us a lot more when she isn't with us all day long. She's had a rough time but she's grown up a lot in the last two months. She won't even suck her thumb (considered a vile habit in this dirty environment) while she's at school anymore. It may get worse, but the terrible twos don't seem so terrible now that she's actually two.

Physical development: She is increasingly confident—even reckless—on her feet: running, climbing, jumping, sliding down long slides. She almost has a swagger when she walks by herself. She loves to swim. We've been several times to hotel pools and she's enjoyed leaping or falling off the side into our arms. She has very good control in her hands now. She can put up one finger or two fingers easily, and just recently managed to put up three fingers (the last 3) on the first try. We were all quite proud.

Intellectual notes: She is delightfully curious about all the new things around us, and wants to "see" every noise she hears. She loves to stop and inspect the snails, dragonflies, grasshoppers, and butterflies we encounter in our walks. She has an amazing memory. She can remember exactly where she put something hours ago, can remember what she saw where on a previous walk, and can remember who gave her things. We'll say "Do you want to walk on the sand?" And she'll say "Rachel want to walk on sand with Rachel's new pink shoes from Rachel's Grandma Grandpa." She often asks "What's that from?"—even about the toothpaste.

One of her games is to tell you one thing ("That Winnie Pooh"), then tell you something contradictory ("That not Winnie Pooh"). If you react with appropriate surprise, she will exclaim delightedly, "Rachel tricking Mama!" She can keep it up until you have trouble feigning surprise. Daddy said to her one day, "Rachel's a talking trickster and a walking tractor." She adapted that to "Rachel trickster, Rachel tractor, Rachel walking tractor."

Language notes: Over the past two months, Rachel has been filling in a lot of the unstressed words she hears between the major words: prepositions, pronouns, adverbs, and conjunctions. One week it would be from, the next week with, the next w'out. She hasn't got the and a figured out, and still uses Rachel instead of I, me, my but her English is more and more grammatical. She has now got the /s/ sound under control, so she distinguishes Rachel and Rachel's, but she still has trouble with /p, b/ and /k, g/. She also just recently managed to make her Dayto sound a little more like Rayto, but the old habit of saying Dayto will take a while to break. Recently she has been playing with doubling words: "This Rachel Rachel; that Daddy Daddy." [In retrospect, I think this may have been prompted by Chinese usage in her kindergarten, where she was called Qiuqiu, from her Chinese name Liqiu 'beautiful autumn'. She was greeted every day like a visiting celebrity, with shouts of Qiuqiu lai le 'Qiuqiu has come!'—J.] Not much progress in Chinese yet, but she can count from 1 to 5 (sometimes 10) in Chinese, and can follow simple directions at school.

We are amazed by her eagerness to read. She knows all the letters of the alphabet by name. We bought her a little magnetic board with all 26 letters and she plays with it each time she sits on the potty. It makes for some long potty sessions. She'll keep playing with the letters long after she has done her business. Her demand as soon as she sits down is, "Rachel want to play with these letters," followed shortly now with "Spell something, spell something."

UPDATE: This child is now a 24-year-old teacher in Boston's Chinatown.

One Child's Language: at 22 months

For several weeks, durai (dry) was Rachel's antonym for we', diti, 'ow (wet, dirty, ouch). She would talk about dirty and dry hands, or ouch (sore) and dry knees. Lately, she has started to use deen (clean) sometimes. Di and dido (big, little) sometimes occur instead of her old favorites wow, wee. She is beginning to use location words hia, dea, roro dea (here, there, over there), and when she bruises herself, she lets us know where to kiss by pointing and saying rai dea (right there), usually several times. Just today she started tagging otay?, dat rait? onto sentences to make them questions.

She does constant pattern drills, making the same sentence using Rachel one time, Mama the next, and Daddy the next—a standard substitution drill. She does endless repetition drills. We don't drill her, she drills herself. She also does expansion drills: we say "Let's brush our teeth" and she says Daydo dah Daydo dee', Daddy dah Daddy dee', Mama dah Mama dee'. If we tell her we're going home, she'll expand it to dodi Daydo 'ous, Mama 'ous, Daddy 'ous (going to Rachel's house, Mama's house, Daddy's house). And then, of course, she also does negation drills: we say "Not that!" and she says yes, dat; we say "Rachel drink water?" and she says Not Daydo dwin' wawa; we say "Don't throw your noodles" and she says yes, dwow noonoh. She never uses yes to answer simple questions, only to contradict a no. She's definitely showing signs of nearing the Twos.

UPDATE: This child is now a 24-year-old teacher in the Boston Public Schools.

Among the Spice Island Sago-eaters

From The Spice Islands Voyage: The Quest for Alfred Wallace, the Man Who Shared Darwin's Discovery of Evolution, by Tim Severin (Carroll & Graf, 1997), pp. 142-144:
More than a century before Wallace's visit, the people of Gorong were still habitual sago-eaters. Toman upon toman of sago flour was stacked up in the little shops of Kataloko. The tomans were the shape of small solid drums wrapped in green palm leaves, or you could buy the sago flour already baked into biscuits and neatly tied with string into bundles of ten. Then they looked exactly like small, hard, light brown floor-tiles. When we asked where all this sago came from, we were told it came from the island opposite, from Pasang where the sago palms [Metroxlon sagu] still grew.

Pasang had a deceptive approach. From the direction we arrived with [our boat] Alfred Wallace, it looked as if the usual fringing coral reef protected a broad lagoon with deeper water; if we could cross the reef and enter the lagoon we would be safe. At least, that is how it appeared, because the water was much darker on the landward side of the reef. In fact, when we crossed the reef we found that we were wrong. The lagoon was dark not because it was deep, but because it was carpeted with brown sea grass. In fact it was barely 50 centimetres deep and studded with rocks. A normal vessel would have been stuck fast, but again Alfred Wallace needed so little water to float that we could pole our way through the shallows for a kilometre or more until we were able to anchor off the main village of the island. From there a guide took us into the sago swamps.

The sago palms appeared to be wild, but were in fact planted as seedlings in the muck and stagnant pools of the swamp. For 12–15 years the palm tree grew until its trunk was approximately one metre thick. Then, quite suddenly, the tree flowered and was ready to harvest. The owner felled the tree, peeled off the skin and chopped his way into the thick white soft trunk. We found a sago harvester at work, sitting inside the tree-trunk as if in a large dugout canoe. In front of him was the unworked face of white sago pith, and he was steadily hacking at it with a long handle which had a tiny sharp metal blade set at right-angles in the end. As he struck, the blade sliced away a sliver of sago pith which fell inside the hollow trunk and on to his feet. The blade also came alarmingly close to his feet with each blow, and it seemed he risked chopping off his toes. Occasionally he wriggled his feet and toes, pushing the growing pile of the sago shavings back down the hollow tree-trunk. When he was tired of chopping, he climbed out of the tree-trunk, filled a sack with sago shavings and carried them off through the squelching mud to a trough which he had set up beside a pool of stagnant swamp water. He dumped the shavings into the upper end of the trough, poured water over them from a bucket, and squeezed the wet pith against a cloth strainer. The water ran out of the sago pith as white as milk, carrying sago flour with it, and drained away into another trough where it was allowed to settle. Within an hour, a thick deposit of pure white edible sago flour had settled in the trough and could be scooped out with the hands. It was ready to bake and eat.

The sago gatherer claimed that in just two days' work he could produce enough food to feed his family for a month. As for the sago palm, he said, once you had planted the seedling there was no more work involved. You merely had to let it grow. Apart from Joe, who rather liked the taste of sago biscuit, the rest of us wondered if it was even worth that much effort. We compared eating sago with buying a packet of breakfast cereal, throwing away the contents and eating the cardboard packet.
I got to help process a sago palm into starch during my fieldwork in Papua New Guinea in 1976. As unskilled labor, my job was to pound the pith of the felled sago palm trunk into smithereens, using an adze handle with an artillery shell casing on the end. Others carried the pith to the washing chutes near the river where the starch was strained out of the pulp, then drained and formed into large blocks, which were allotted among the households whose members helped with the work. I had never heard the term toman used to name such blocks until I read this book.

05 November 2009

One Child's Language: at 20 months

Reading is now the rage with Rachel. In one short week, she has nearly memorized Theodore LeSieg's The Eye Book, one of the "Bright and Early Books for Beginning Beginners," with a Cat-in-the-Hat trademark. Not that she can actually say all the words, but she knows what to expect from each page and can fill in at least the last word for every line. Of course, a person has to be familiar with her language and the situation in which she is using it to appreciate it because her articulation of consonants still has a long way to go. However, the vowels and the intonation are there. For example "airplanes in the sky" comes out as dayday die. Her other favorite books include Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever, with its zillion little pictures to name, and Hand, Hand, Finger, Thumb, which features rhythmical text and monkeys drumming on drums. So she drums on an empty oatmeal box, not quite keeping beat with the text. She especially likes the line "Dum ditty, dum ditty, whack, whack, whack."

She devised another game for herself involving books this week. From a big chair in our living room, she found out she could reach a stack of pocket books on a high shelf. Her routine is to pull one book off the stack, name the colors on its cover, open it up and "read" the numbers 1-5, lose it and put it down beside her, and then reach for the next one. Sometimes, she will try to put the books back on the shelf, too.

Her vocabulary and the speech sounds she uses change daily. We never know what words she considers manageable enough to try out. Once she tries something, she looks for ways to practice it over and over. She often talks quietly to herself saying things like: Daddy wey, Mama dey (Daddy's away, Mama's staying); Daydo ow, Daddy rey, Mama bdu (Rachel's [toothbrush is] yellow, Daddy's is red, Mama's is blue). Her favorite topics of conversation are the color and size of objects and comments on who (mostly her) is doing what.

She loves to be asked silly questions like "Does Rachel have a tail?" and sometimes starts the silly game herself. For example, she will point to her rabbit's tail asking us to name it, then point to herself and ask uh?, so we get the hint and ask the question. Language seems to be on her mind all the time; she even talks in her sleep. Her dad caught a glimpse of her attempt to communicate recently. As we left our apartment one evening, we met the family next door. They have a two-year old daughter. Rachel was standing face-to-face with the little girl and knew she was in a situation that called for some kind of linguistic interaction. She thought quickly, pointed to her shirt, and said bdu (blue)!

Of course, we are glad that books and language are important to Rachel now, but we are also glad to see her working on physical strength and dexterity. Her climbing has become more routine and confident. She will climb onto a box or chair and proclaim doe-day, which seems to mean something like "look at me." She has been observing older children who can jump and hop for some time; now she is beginning to see what she must do to make a jump happen, though she can't quite execute one yet. She likes to stretch and hang from the rings at the park.

We see signs of the stubbornness that accompanies the "twos." Rachel uses no fairly frequently and often repeats Mama, no! Daddy, no! for no apparent reason. She repeats that latter often enough and reflexively enough that she sometimes gets tongue-tied. When she catches herself saying Mama no! to Daddy, she might try again with Dama no! or Madi mo! We think that we often find positive ways of encouraging her to do or not to do things, but of course, we don't always succeed, and she gets input from other sources, too. She deliberately tests her limits: Yesterday, I let her throw paper wads and balls and clothes but drew the line at books. She tried it a couple of times but didn't protest when I put the books out of reach. This morning she tried again, but when I put the books up again, she seemed to say, "Just checking."

UPDATE: This child is now a 24-year-old teacher in the Boston Public Schools.

One Child's Language: at 19 months

Rachel has turned into a real neatnik these days. She not only informs us immediately when she has a "dudu" diaper, she also stops whatever else she is doing to close an open door, to push in a protruding drawer, to put down the toilet lid, or to clear the sidewalk of little twigs and gravel. She also shows a lot more initiative in trying to bring other aspects of her environment under control. She likes to choose one outfit over another when it's time to dress. She starts fetching shoes and saying waw' when she's ready to go out. She heads for Uncle Barry's car and says rye when she spots the car in our slot as she comes out the elevator. She'd rather push her stroller than ride in it when she's feeling energetic.

One evening, she pushed the stroller almost all the way home (about 10 blocks) from the Italian ice cream shop we walked to. She tested every metal cover embedded in the sidewalk to see if it made any noise. If it didn't, she would say no-o-o and move on. If it did, she would try stomping on it again several times. She also labelled every down-and-up driveway slope we passed over, with a down and an uh. (She also uses down and uh for upside down and rightside up, respectively.)

You may have guessed that language has begun to come thick and fast. We had thought that this might be the last complete listing of the words Rachel can produce, but she has already gotten ahead of us. She surprises us with at least one new word every day. She has even begun to talk in her sleep a bit. We'll have to be content to list some of her favorites.

She can count to five, but tends to start with two unless you remind her. She likes the symmetry of tu, ti, tow, tai. She has the primary colors pretty well under control. Her favorite is doo (blue), followed by rey (red), oh (yellow), and dee (green). She has all of our names down pat: mama, dadi, and daydo. Her nasals, m and n, actually started when she named the nama (llama) that she petted at the zoo one day. Within a day or two, she started to rave about her mama, about checking the mayno (mail), about her nano (Anno's Journey) book, and about things that aren't true or don't exist (no-o-o). So far, her use of no-o-o (it doesn't exist) far outweighs her use of no-no-no (this is off-limits). That pleases us.

Some words are far enough beyond the frontiers of her pronunciation that she relies on sign language. Her word turn is signed by rotating her wrist and fingers. She uses that sign for revolve, twist, roll, turn over, turn around, turn a corner. When she's feeling talkative, she signs turn and says wheel whenever any wheeled vehicle strikes her fancy. Open is signed with an open hand, close with a clenched fist. She will signal close before she closes doors, pushes in drawers, and restores seatbacks and tray tables to their upright position. She signs flash and squeak by repeatedly opening and closing her hand.

Rachel has also mastered several pairs of antonyms. One of her most charming pairs is wow (big) vs. wee (small). (Wee she picked up from her Three Bears book, wow probably from our comments about large spoonfuls on their way to her mouth.) She delights in comparing things wow and wee. Another pair, we' and dwy, get pretty regular use at diaper-changing time. One pair consists of a spoken awake (wey') and a signed asleep (the sh sign, but with forefinger across her forehead instead of her lips).

One time when she was playing in her crib, she composed a small compare-and-contrast sentence about two little stuffed gingerbread men. It is herewith quoted in full, with accompanying interpretation and commentary provided by a member of the rapt audience of one: rey wey', oh sh [the last word was signed, not spoken]. The red gingerbread man was face up, the yellow one face down. (She puts her things to sleep by laying them face down.) Not quite "Give me liberty or give me death," but a memorable utterance in its own time and place, nevertheless.

UPDATE: This child is now a 24-year-old teacher in the Boston Public Schools.

Salonica's Heterodox Modernizers

From Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430-1950, by Mark Mazower (Vintage, 2006), pp. 74-76:
The Ottoman authorities clearly regarded their [Ma'min] heterodoxy with some suspicion and as late as 1905 treated a case of a Ma'min girl who had fallen in love with her Muslim tutor, Hadji Feyzullah Effendi, as a question of conversion. Yet with their usual indifference to inner belief, they left them alone. A pasha who proposed to put them all to death was, according to local myth, removed by God before he could realize his plan. In 1859, at a time when the Ottoman authorities were starting to worry more about religious orthodoxy, a governor of the city carried out an enquiry which concluded they posed no threat to public order. All he did was to prevent rabbis from instructing them any longer. A later investigation confirmed their prosperity and honesty and after 1875 such official monitoring lapsed. Ma'min spearheaded the expansion of Muslim—including women's—schooling in the city, and were prominent in its commercial and intellectual life. Merchant dynasties like the fez-makers, the Kapandjis, accumulated huge fortunes, built villas in the European style by the sea and entered the municipal administration. Others were in humbler trades—barbers, coppersmiths, town-criers and butchers.

Gradually—as with the Marranos of Portugal, from whom many were descended—their connection with their ancestral religion faded. High-class Ma'min married into mainstream Muslim society, though most resided in central quarters, between the Muslim neighbourhoods of the Upper Town and the Jewish quarters below, streets where often the two religions lived side by side. "They will be converted purely and simply into Muslims," predicted one scholar in 1897. But like many of Salonica's Muslims at this time, the Ma'min also embraced European learning, and identified themselves with secular knowledge, political radicalism and freemasonry. By a strange twist of fate it was thus the Muslim followers of a Jewish messiah who helped turn late-nineteenth-century Salonica into the most liberal, progressive and revolutionary city in the empire.

The juxtaposition of old and new outlooks in a fin-de-siècle Ma'min household is vividly evoked in the memoirs of Ahmed Emin Yalman. His father, Osman Tewfik Bey, was a civil servant and a teacher of calligraphy. Living in the house with him and his parents were his uncle and aunt, his seven siblings, two orphaned cousins and at least five servants. "The strife between the old and the new was ever present in our house," he recollects. His uncle was of the old school: a devout man, he prayed five times a day, abhorred alcohol, and disliked travel or innovation. For some reason, he refused to wear white shirts; "a coloured shirt with attached collar was, for him, the extreme limit of westernization in dress to which he felt that one could go without falling into conflict with religion ... He objected to the theatre, music, drinking, card playing, and photography—all new inventions which he considered part of Satan's world." Yalman's father, on the other hand—Osman Tewfik Bey—was "a progressive, perhaps even a revolutionary," who wore "the highest possible white collars," beautiful cravats and stylish shoes in the latest fashion, loved poetry, theatre and anything that was new, taking his children on long trips and photographing them with enthusiasm. He adorned his rooms with their pictures and prayed but rarely.

Esin Eden's memoir of the following generation shows Europeanization taken even further. Hers was a well-to-do family of tobacco merchants which combined a strong consciousness of its Jewish ancestry with pride in its contemporary achievements as part of a special Muslim community, umbilically linked to Salonica itself. The women were all highly educated—one was even a teacher at the famous new Terakki lycée—sociable, energetic and articulate. They smoked lemon-scented cigarettes in the garden of their modern villa by the sea, played cards endlessly and kept their eyes on the latest European fashions. Their servants were Greek, their furnishings French and German, and their cuisine a mix of "traditionally high Ottoman cuisine as well as traditional Sephardic cooking," though with no concern for the dietary laws of Judaism.

When the Young Turk revolt broke out in Salonica in 1908, Ma'min economics professors, newspaper men, businessmen and lawyers were among the leading activists and there were three Ma'min ministers in the first Young Turk government. Indeed conspiracy theorists saw the Ma'min everywhere and assumed any Muslim from Salonica must be one. Today some people even argue that Mustafa Kemal Ataturk must have been a Ma'min (there is no evidence for this), and see the destruction of the Ottoman empire and the creation of the secular republic of Turkey as their handiwork—the final revenge, as it were, of Sabbatai Zevi, and the unexpected fulfilment of his dreams. In fact, many of the Ma'min themselves had mixed feelings at what was happening in nationalist Turkey: some were Kemalists, others opposed him. In 1923, however, they were all counted as Muslims in the compulsory exchange of populations and packed off to Istanbul, where a small but distinguished community of businessmen, newspaper magnates, industrialists and diplomats has since flourished. As the writer John Freely tells us, their cemetery, in the Valley of the Nightingales above Üsküdar, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, is still known as the Selanikliler Mezarligi—the Cemetery of Those from Salonica.