Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Noble Savage

It was something like: "They treat us worse than Albanians" or "We might just as well be Albanians..." There they were, a couple sitting on the steps of their trailer, complaining to The Miami Herald a few years ago about being called "trailer trash." I remember the article not just because they said Albanian but because, strangely enough for ignorant trailer trash, they had their Balkan social history exactly right.

Whether it's for the Greeks, with their Grecian columns and all that stuff, or the Christian Serbs or even the Turks, fellow Moslems, Albanians have been the trailer trash of the Balkans, or worse. "Albanians? Very dirty!" That was the reaction I got when, on vacation from the Faculty of Philosophy, Pristina, I told people in Istanbul the interesting fact that I taught Albanians. I was suddenly less an English tourist than an Albanian-lover.

The irony in all this is, that of all the Balkan peoples, it is hardest to get a physical stereotype of the Albanian. Many Albanians are dark but many more look Irish or even Scots, tall and rangy with sandy hair and grey eyes. But maybe that brings us back to white trash again, to the poor whites of Appalachia who seem to have missed out on political correctness. I don't think any comedian or commentator has got fired for calling them 'inbred' or 'stupid.' I don't think they have the equivalent of the Jewish Defense League, or the NAACP. Maybe if they did, there would be less room for right wing groups of varying degrees of anger and resentment, to fill the gap.

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