Paul Kusuda’s column
Culturally insensitive praise
      We’ve read about the person who heroically helps someone who needs immediate
attention.  Without too much thinking about personal risk, that person rushes into a house
fire to rescue someone overcome with smoke inhalation or caught under a heavy weight
preventing escape.  A cat is rescued by a passer-by when asked for help by its owner.  All too
often, the rescuer is called a “Good Samaritan.”  We’ve become accustomed to using that
term when grateful for a stranger’s help.  It’s always a stranger, not a family member or a
relative.
      Why?  Well, if a family member or a relative helps, that’s almost to be expected as a
given.  It’s part of the “We take care of our own” syndrome.  Thus, a good deed observed and
meriting praise evokes the term “Good Samaritan” almost automatically and meant to be a
commendation.
      The problem is that in Christian religion, the story is used in sermons and homilies by
ministers and priests to illustrate a valuable point.  They mention, almost in passing, that
people indigenous to Samaria were despised and considered “infra dig.”  After many,
apparently non-Samaritans, passed by an injured person pleading for help, the one who
apparently non-Samaritans, passed by an injured person pleading for help, the one who stopped to be of assistance
turned out to be a Samaritan.  He was “honored” to become the Good Samaritan.  How might other Samaritans, possibly
equally attentive, view the “honor”?
      In effect, the “good Samaritan” was considered to be unlike other despised people, he was the GOOD Samaritan, a
person deserving commendation and high praise for going out of his way to help when others failed.  He was not
considered a neighbor or friend though singled out as being a good one.  He was still a Samaritan, still one of the
despised people.
      During wartime, enemies are demonized on purpose to relegate them to the status of “not like us.”  That’s also true
with racism.  The subjects of disdain are called names to place them in a non-person status. So, the terms Krauts,
Dagos, Japs, Coons, Gooks, Wetbacks, Honkies, Peckerheads, etc., are used.  I personally would not consider being
called a “Good Jap” any kind of commendation.  Also, I’ve not liked being considered the “Front Office Asian” when
diversity was an employee-make-up goal, a non-quota count of racial minority persons, females, and workers with
disabilities.
      Some decry an all-White representation among top administrative positions.  They also point out that White males
earn more than non-White males and all females.  The criterion of all-White is supposed to signify lack of diversity that
should be corrected to reflect the diverse populace.  A fairer test of diversity (equality in such situations) should be
whether equally capable non-Whites, females, persons with disability, etc., were prevented from achieving the same
status as a White because of their non-White, non-male or other status.  Of course, such a criterion cannot be measured
no matter how objective a non-discriminatory process were to be developed.  The only measure can be actual numbers.
A quota solution must not be made since that would reek of racial discrimination and could result in indiscriminate filling
of positions solely or primarily on the basis of race or some other characteristic.  Thus, solving the dilemma is not easy.  
Somehow, a concept of fairness must be formulated taking into consideration past opportunity available or not available
to meet current requirements.
      The terminology of “Good Samaritan” is intended to convey commendation, but it in fact conveys condescension.  
“Diversity” is considered to be a desirable conceptual framework (paradigm) for societal acceptance.   Years ago, it was
“melting pot” and “social integration.”  Current practices are seen by many as not acceptable, but what might be
considered acceptable?
      Some hold to the belief that racism must be eliminated and exert much effort to pursue that goal.  I think that’s an
impossible goal, it’s not achievable.  Racism is in
each of us, whether we admit it or not; it’s part of
discriminating among alternatives.  We each have
likes and dislikes depending on past experiences,
cultural backgrounds, or traditions.  My personal
take on this issue is that our societal goal should  
be to recognize our racism, sexism, or whatever,
and to enhance cultural sensitivity to such a level
as to enable all of us to act accordingly.  I believe
that even though prejudices will be with each of us
always, they must not be manifested in our
actions.