A lesson in tolerance.

This is going to be a ridiculous post, but this evening I was watching The Simpsons (okay, don't hate) and the episode centered around the premise of unwanted immigrants. Preliminary research tells me that it was a repeat, but here's a brief synopsis:

Norwegian Immigrants from the fictional Ogdenville "invade" Springfield when the economy worsens. Soon, there is an abundance of blonde-haired hardworking folk who, as Homer puts it, "will do the work that none of the Springfield residents want to do,"--i.e. installing new gutters on the roof and other such manual labor, etc. One of the skate borders at Bart's school jumps off the railing on his board and does an Olympic-like ski jump, the bar flies start drinking Aquavit in place of beer, and Marge hires a Norwegian nanny who feeds Maggie lingonberry jam to soothe her stomach. The residents of Springfield are happy with the newcomers until, when Bart falls off his skateboard and needs to go to the hospital for a broken arm, the waiting area is completely filled with Norwegians "sneezing funny" according to Homer. The turning point is when the nurse says that they have run out of hospital forms in English and the Simpsons must fill one out in Norwegian. (Sound familiar?) Marge finally breaks, when the following scene occurs...

Marge: "Haven't we always taught the children to make friends with those who are a little different?"
Lisa: "Yes."
Bart: "Yeah."
Maggie: "JA!"
Marge: GASP
Maggie: "JA! JA! JA!"
Marge: "Maggie's first words are in Ogdenvillese!"

This reminds me of the scene in Fun with Dick and Jane when Dick is accused of being undocumented by the INS and his kid answers the phone in Spanish because his main caretaker is his Mexican nanny.

The other day, there was an episode of The Simpsons (once again, I'm not making a habit of it) where Bart befriends a Jordanian boy who moves into the neighborhood with his Muslim family. I must say, I am very impressed with the tolerance lessons and initiative (even though these are older episodes) that this show has taken. I've been absolutely appalled at the misunderstanding and absolute ignorance that public opinion has adopted in the past few months. It is an issue to not know, but it is a problem when you don't want to know. Of course, the Norwegian immigrant episode was comical for me. 1) I can understand the mockery and social commentary on the immigration debate and 2) My mother is of Norwegian descent, which makes all the cultural jokes five times funnier. Nonetheless, it is refreshing to see that there is hope. There are many children and adults who regularly watch this show, and, as elementary as it sounds, if a cartoon needs to teach America lessons in humanity, then let the education begin.

No comments:

Post a Comment