Name Calling – The Macuces Syndrome

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When I lived with the Yebámasa Indians along the Río Piraparaná in Colombia SA in 1977/78, I noticed that they were wearing nicely made feather caps during their dance feasts. They called them “majá joáro”. I asked the local shaman about this. “Why are you wearing these feather caps?” – “Uh the majá joáro?” he said. “well, we wear them because they symbolize the superiority of our culture.” – “And in what way is your culture superior to what other culture?” I wanted to know. “Oh, well,” he responded, “we have this splendid slash-and-burn cultivation and we grow yuca brava (manioc) and tobacco and those Macuces, who live in the deep forest and not like we along the river bank, do not have anything like this. They are hunters and gatherers and they are more like monkeys than like humans.” – “I hate to tell you this,” I said, “but I went to see those Macuces in the deep forest and I saw with my own eyes that they also have majá joáro.” – “Oh,” he said. “They do? Well, maybe they also have majá joáro, but theirs are ugly, ugly, ugly!” When he could no longer deny the facts, he resorted to value statements in order to be able to hold on to his idea that the Yebámasa are superior to the Macuces when in truth there was at best a minimal difference between the cultures of the two tribes. Needless to say, that the term ‘Macuces’ clearly had a negative connotation.

This pattern, that it is the first and foremost duty of every fifth grader to look down with contempt on every fourth grader repeats itself worldwide. Let´s call it the ´Macuces Syndrome´. Just look at what the nations of the world thought and think of each other as expressed in the pejoratives with which they addressed each other.

The Germans call the Dutch “Kaasköppe“ or “Pfeffersäcke” (cheeseheads or pepperbags). ‘cheeseheads’ was also used by English Americans for Dutch immigrants. The Dutch call the Germans “Moffen” (‘mufflers’).

The terms “krauts” for the Germans and the reciprocal term “lymies” for the English go apparently back to two different methods of avoiding scurvy in the British and German navies. The Brits used lemons and the Germans Sauerkraut, which also contains vitamin C.

The British and Americans called the Germans “Huns”. This goes back to a speech by the German emperor Wilhelm II about how the Germans should fight in the Chinese Boxer Revolt: “Like a thousand years ago King Etzel made a name for himself that still lets him appear great today thus the name of Germany may be uttered in such way that no Chinese will ever dare again to even look at a German…” But of course, the Germans have never been Huns. In fact, they were attacked by the Huns, who were probably Mongols, and suffered greatly from their attacks. Another English pejorative for the Germans is ‘Jerries’ of obvious origin.

Austrians call Germans and the Prussians “Piefkes”, which comes from the Polish word for ‘beer’ > ‘piwo’. The Austrians see the German mainly as beer drinkers. Arabs call black people ‘abid’ or ‘abeed’, which means as much as ‘slaves’ associated with the Arab slave trade.

White Americans used to call black children ‘alligator bait’. ‘Ann’ was a name for ‘white-acting black women’. ‘mites’ was a bad name for the Vietnamese used by the French and the English. Mizrachi Jew used to call Ashkenazi Jews ‘Ashke-Nazi’.

The French used to call black people ‘bamboula’. The meaning of ‘bamboula’ is not known. The term ‘banana’ was a pejorative of Americans for Asian people (yellow on the outside and white inside).

The ancient Greeks used to call everybody who did not speak Greek, which they considered the only language worth speaking, a ‘barbarian’, i.e. uncivilized and primitive.

Americans called Mexicans, in particular mestizos, ‘beaners’ or ‘beaneys’ because they eat a lot of beans. The French call the Germans “boches’, probably from ‘caboche dure’ = ‘hardheaded, stubborn’.

The ancient Athenians used to call the neighboring people ‘boeotians’, because they considered Boeotians to be particularly stupid. ‘bootlip’ is a pejorative used by white Americans for African Americans. ‘cracker’ is a pejorative used by African Americans for white people, who also called black people ‘eight balls’. The English used to deride Germans and Russians as “cabbage eaters’ and people in the Middle East as ‘camel jockeys’.

‘Cheese eating surrender monkeys’ was a bad name for the French used by the English and Americans after they were defeated by the Germans in 1940. The Brits also called the French ‘frogs’ due to their habit of eating frog legs.

The Russians used to call the people in Chechnya ‘chernozhopy’ (черножопый) meaning ‘black arses’. The Danes call the Norwegians ‘Fjelabe’, which means ‘mountain apes’. The Spanish call the French ‘gabachos’, which comes from the Catalan term for ‘foreigner’ > ‘gavatx’ or worse from ‘goiter’, a disease that used to be common in the French Pyrenees.

Americans have called Arabs ‘dune coons’ and ‘ sand niggers’. Russians call German ‘Gans’(Ганс), which is supposed to mean ‘Hans’, a common German first name, which actually is short for the Greek name ‘Johannes’. The Russians cannot speak a ‘G’ and say ‘H’ instead, which is why the call ‘Hitler’ ‘Gitler’. In return, the German call the Russians ‘iwans’.

The French noticed that the English curse a lot, i.e. say ‘god-damn’ a lot, which is why they call them the ‘godon’. ‘gook’ is a bad name used by Americans for Southeast Asians.

Non-Italian Americans call Italian Americans ‘goombah’. This comes from the Mafia term ‘cumpa’ or ‘cumpari’ meaning ‘godfather. Jews call non-Jews ‘goyim’, an equivalent to the Muslim ‘unbeliever’.

Spanish speakers from South and Central America like to call North Americans ‘gringos’. Probably from the Spanish term for ‘greek’ i.e. ‘griego’, which is used in the same manner an English speaker would say ‘it’s all Greek to me’ i.e. a language he does not understand. ‘gypsy’, originally meaning ‘Egyptian’, is a slightly negative term for the Romani and Sinti and based on the misunderstanding that they originated in Egypt. White Afrikaaners used to be called ‘hairybacks’ by black people and in turn called black people ‘bobbejaans’ (monkeys). An Afro-American derogative for white people is ‘honky’ or ‘hunky’, probably originally used for Hungarian laborers in Pennsylvania.

‘heimie’ or ‘hymie’ is a derogatory term for Jews. It has two possible origins. It is either derived from the Jewish name ‘Chayyim’ or the term ‘heim’ as part of many German last names. ‘Heim’ means ‘home’ and is typically part of German and Norwegian town names, which then became personal last names as in “Florsheim” or “Guggenheim”. ‘Japie’ was a pejorative for a ‘white South African farm boy’. The English called the Scots ‘Jockies’. The Arabic word ‘Kafir’ for originally ‘unbeliever’ mutated into ‘kaffer’, ‘kufar’, ‘Kaffer’ – all negative terms for ‘black people’.

The Australians called the Pacific Islanders ‘kanaka’, and the Germans used the word ‘Kanaken’ as a bad name for ‘Turks’ and in general for anyone considered “primitive”. In Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and Lithuania Russians were called ‘Katsap’. Not sure what that means. ‘Kebab’ is a bad name for Muslims of Arabic or Turkish descent. The Russians called the Ukrainians ‘khokhol’, which makes fun of the Cossack hairstyle of leaving just one hairlock on the otherwise shaved head and they made fun of the Lithuanians by calling them ‘labas’, which refers to the frequent use of the word ‘labas’ (good) in terms like ‘labas rytas’ (good morning), ‘laba diena’ (good day) and ‘labas vakaras’ (good evening). The Chinese used to call non-Chinese people contemptuously ‘lao wai’ (老外) – foreigners. Clearly racist and xenophobic – as we would say today. In return, the Hong Kong people call de mainland Chinese “locusts’ (蝗蟲). Indonesians call white people ‘londo’, which is derived from ‘Belanda’, Indonesian term for ‘Netherlands’.

In Zimbabwe, black people call white people ‘mabuno’ meaning ‘maggots’ and somewhat similar to the term ‘mayonaise monkeys’ used by black people in the US for white people. Much like the American Indians called the European immigrants ‘palefaces’ and were called ‘redskins’ by them in return.

Bulgarians call Romani people ‘Mangal’, which means (cooking) ‘pots’. In Turkey, the Kurds are often referred to as ‘Mountain Turks’. An insult to the Kurds, as it is intended to deny their separate ethnicity.

In France, people from South East Asia are often referred to as ‘niakoué’ which is a distorted Vietnamese word and means something like ‘country bumpkin’ or ‘yokel’.

Poor rural white people were called ‘peckerwood’ and ‘rednecks’ by Southern African Americans and by upper-class white people. On Barbados, white people are referred to as ‘red legs’.

While ‘Polack’ is a bad name for Poles and Slavic people in general, ‘Polaco’ is a derogative for the Catalan people in Spain and ‘Polaca’ (Polish woman) means a prostitute in Brazil.

In Peru and Bolivia, the Chileans are disdainfully referred to as ‘rotos’, meaning brutal people in ragged clothes. The term ‘roundeyes’ is frequently used by Asians to refer to non-Asians, both white and black, while Caucasians may call Asians ‘slant-eyed’.

In Yiddish, non-Jewish girls are referred to as ‘shiksa’, apparently from the French “chique’ (pretty, nice). The Germans call a woman of ill repute a ‘Schickse’. Non-Jewish men who are perceived as being anti-Jewish are called ‘Shkutzim’ in Jiddish. Iranians call Arabs ‘soosmar-khor’ (سوسمار خور) ‘lizard eaters’. The pejorative ‘Turco’ is used in Western Europe, in Brazil, Chile and Argentina for Muslims Albanians, Syrians, Palestinians, Lebanese, Jews, and Armenians. The Lakota and Dakota Indians called white people ‘wasichu’ meaning ‘he who keeps the best meat for himself.’.

Last but not least, the dreaded N-word: ‘nigger’, which is so politically incorrect today that it is all but prohibited. We are mentioning it here for two reasons: 1. The first Amendment does not protect convenient speech, because it does not need protection. It protects inconvenient speech. 2. We cannot discuss a topic without mentioning it. How would you discuss the topic of open-heart surgery for example without being allowed to utter the word ‘heart’?

‘nigger’ comes from the Latin word ‘niger’, which means ‘black’. The word exists in many different orthographic variants in many languages: ‘Neger’ in German and Dutch, ‘nègre’ in French, ‘negro’ in English, Spanish and Italian. Sub-Saharan Africans are called ‘blacks’ in many other languages that do not use the Latin-derived term. Even in Kiswahili, the lingua franca of East African Bantu, the term for ‘Africans’ is ‘watu weusi’ = ‘black men’. While the term ‘nigger’ was used by white Americans, mainly Southerners, as a pejorative deliberately intended to offend and insult, most of the other ‘niger’ derivatives never had any derogatory or offensive intent. They just mean ‘black person’. BTW – the Latin word is pronounced ‘neegher’ and the Southern ‘nigger’ is probably a mispronunciation due to lack of education. One could argue that “black” people are not really black. True. They come in shades of brown. And white people are also not really white either. They come in shades of pink. And Chinese are not really “yellow”. They are more like white people with slanted eyes. And the ”redskins” were, of course never red. They only painted themselves with red paint.

Remains the fact that black people call themselves “black” as in “Black Lives Matter” or “Black is Beautiful” or “Black Panthers”. Yet, it strikes me as odd that the word ‘black’ would be considered an insult when used in one language but not when used in another.

I think we should all apologize to each other for calling each other bad names. These ethnic slurs all have one thing in common: they all put down the group given the bad name and they glorify the group giving the bad name. I also think we should not lose our sense of humor or give up our freedom of speech for political correctness. Free people must tolerate verbal abuse and liberty only exists as long as we all can still make stupid mistakes.

The “Macuces Syndrome” ultimately reflects insecurity and lack of self-confidence. Psychologically, it is over-compensation for feelings of inferiority. A person who is truly aware of his or her own value and the value of his or her own culture, would probably not feel a need to put down a person of a different physique or culture. Calling other people names reflects only one thing: an intrinsic weakness of the name caller.

So, call me a Kraut and I’ll know you’re a wuss.

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