Rebel No More

Greetings from southern Italy!

Last night I was walking past a shop selling tourist stuff and they had a Confederate Rebel flag (Dixie) out there for sale.  So I went in and talked to the owners of the shop.  I told them about the hateful symbol that it is for Americans, especially for black Americans.  I told them that I know it is not part of their culture, and that is why I had stopped to explain to them what it means to Americans.  They said that they just liked the way the flag looked.

I find the Dixie flag offensive because it is a symbol of the enslavement of an entire race of people—people who were kidnapped from their homelands.  Slavery is wrong, and I believe that it is demonic.  Take human trafficking, for example.  How is the historic enslavement of the African people any different from human trafficking today?  I believe that the answer is that it is not.  Yes, human trafficking involves prostitution, but African women were also frequently used for sex by their white masters.  Besides, prostitution is by no means the only form that human trafficking takes.  There are people working in slavery all around the world that you never see because the majority of them are kept hidden.

The facts of the American Civil War are history—ancient history to this generation of Americans.  Many people wonder why that flag is so controversial, and say that we should simply get over it because it is an historical fact.  I think that the people who don’t have a problem with the Dixie flag need to ask themselves if they also have no problem with the Nazi flag.  If they also see nothing wrong with the Nazi flag, then they are clearly racists who are more interested in spreading hatred than understanding.

Obviously, we all need to get past old offenses and get on with the business of life in the 22nd century.  But some wounds run very deep.  They need the patient understanding and need a sensitive and considered approach.  The government has debated making reparations and apologizing for slavery.  I don’t know how you can possibly repay for such a terrible offense, but something would be better than nothing.  Did they ever do anything in the end?  I don’t know.

But here’s what I do know:  today I walked past that same shop, and in place of the Rebel flag was an American flag.  I turned to my friends and said, “Now these are good people here!”  I knew all along that they probably just didn’t know what the flag symbolized.  God is good, and He puts good people in my path.

Fun with English

Sometimes one of the funniest things about living in Italy is the so-called English you see on T-shirts, posters, and in graffiti.  It ranges from the slightly incorrect to head-scratching bizarre.  Here are some of my favorites:

In Italian, information is plural, which is definitely a cultural thing.  Because when it’s finally your turn, you want to ask every possible question while you’ve got the chance.

Service is another thing that is plural in Italian (we’ll forgive the spelling error).  The logic is that anyone who offers only one service will soon be put out of business by those who offer many and varied services.

Prepositions do not translate in Italian like other parts of speech.  Whereas we would say, “It’s Time to Travel,” in Italian the correct preposition is “of.”  A prepositional difference that causes problems for many English-speakers is being “in” a city.  In Italian you say that you are “at” a city and “in” a state or country.

This is another prepositional error, based on translating directly from Italian.  Even after eleven years, I am still corrected (most recently, yesterday) on my use of prepositions in Italian.

I think the writer was trying to convey the idea of an innovation in fun.

Very . . . what?

Um, won’t he mind if I eat his food?  If native English-speakers have trouble with the use of apostrophes, you can expect people from other countries to also have trouble.

I found this sign in a grocery store.  Most non-English-speakers are unaware of double meanings, like how “funny” with regard to food can be a bad thing, as in “this fish tastes funny.”

This sign was at a bank.  You’ve got to give them credit for trying, and they get points for cleverness with the obvious reference to “in God we trust” on American money, but it’s got to be “young people” or it simply doesn’t work in English.

Apparently the person who wrote this is unaware that ‘n is short for “and.”  I think they were trying for something like “lady in motion,” since it’s advertising a fitness club.

I love this one!  I think it’s a simple misspelling of “feeling,” but for a runner, “on the road with felling” could spell disaster.

I took this picture in Prague.  It’s obviously a clothing store, so perhaps they are going for the vegetarian (though not vegan) market.

It’s true, but not well-stated.

This is my favorite!  I found this (it appears to be spaghetti sauce) in a grocery store in Romania and laughed so hard I cried.  The other shoppers just stared at me.  “Man, I’m starving!  If only I had some crap!”

Think up your own “crap” phrases and post them here.  Let’s see who can come up with the funniest crap phrase.