A less cheery side note about the Altenburg Fair

I’ll just paste the text of the letter I wrote to the local paper:

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For many years I’ve enjoyed going to the East Perry Community Fair in Altenburg.   The authentic rural atmosphere is a nice contrast with the larger, more commercialized SEMO district fair.   This year, though, I was disappointed to hear the announcer at the mule jump make a very mean-spirited joke:  A local farmer sees someone dipping water out of a cow pond with his hand and drinking it.  In German, he warns the man that the pond water isn’t safe to drink.  The man explains that he’s a Muslim, and speaks only Arabic and English, so if the farmer doesn’t speak Arabic, he should speak English to him.  The farmer tells him in English “Use both hands, you’ll get more.”   

It’s not a particularly funny joke, and especially not to any of my Muslim friends, as the point seems to be “Ha ha, we hate Muslims.” 

I have always encouraged newcomers to the area to attend the Altenburg Fair, for a taste of real Southeast Missouri life.  After this year’s fair, though, I think I’ll have to warn them that they’re likely to encounter some real Southeast Missouri intolerance as well.

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8 Responses to “A less cheery side note about the Altenburg Fair”

  1. Cabell says:

    Well, I look forward to the SpeakOut response to your latest letter.

  2. Allen says:

    Yeah, Walt says just to be sure not to read the online comments.

  3. Allen says:

    I actually think that it’s a recycled joke. I bet that it was originally a German farmer (the whole area was settled by Germans in the 1830s, and they had German language schools until WWI) and an Anglo drinking from the pond. German farmer warns Anglo about the cow shit in the pond in German, Anglo says that you’re in America now, kraut, so speak English, and the farmer tells him to use both hands. If I’m right, it’s funny how a joke originally lampooning the jingoism of the English has become a joke exalting the jingoism of the German-American locals.

  4. Erin says:

    Oder ist es die alltägliche Erscheinung der Schadenfreude?

  5. K says:

    Not funny at all… especially given that in quite a few Muslim cultures, you do only use the right hand to eat/drink.

    Are there many Muslim people in Southeast Missouri? Not that it makes it better if there aren’t, but…

  6. Allen says:

    Well, having run your question through BabelFish:

    “Or is it the everyday feature of malicious joy?”

    I’d have to say if so, why is the guy Muslim at all?

  7. Allen says:

    K -

    No, not many Muslims here. However, in the University there are several. You can sort of gauge the joker-teller’s familiarity with Islam by the fact that he pronounced “arabic” as “uh-RAY-bic.”

  8. Erin says:

    Well, I guess more casually translated: is it the common nature to take pleasure in the misfortune of others?

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