Christine Fair, Ecuador, Julian Assange, Kamra Air force base attack, Kristen Stewart, Nosheen Abbas, Occupy Wall Street, Omar Waraich, Paki, pakistan, political correctness, Racism, Robert Pattinson, Shia killing, syria, Twitter, Wikileaks, Will Ferrell
Man, what a day! Bloodied and bruised in Twitter…but thanks to that, back to blogging! Need a space to clarify a few things…and also a break from the lofty, snobbish but at times tiring world of academia and research. International Relations is not boring, please don’t get me wrong, but explaining to curious and opinionated second year students about the relevance of United Nations in modern world can get a bit frustrating at times…
Also waiting for that Journal piece to come out next month in Global Affairs.
Anyway, back to Twitter. Started with this tweet of mine, where I said ” Man, the Pakis are angry. “ with a link to this ridiculous joke of an op-ed, and tagging Christine Fair and Myra MacDonald, both experts in South Asia. Prof Fair retweeted my link. And then the proverbial excreta hit the nuclear powered fan. Within minutes the Twitter world was divided into polarised factions, some supporting me, most opposing, some even more agitated than Will Ferrell on the Kristen Stewart issue.
Now, to be honest, I didn’t know that Paki was a derogatory racist term. I am from India, and we in the sub-continent are used to call Pakistanis as Pakis, and being a brown skinned sub-continental the race issue never really occurred to me. Well…to be fair to the Pakistanis, they prefer to think themselves as Arabs, as our much missed beloved and profound major would have said (for those who get who I mean…), but genetically I think they are closer to us. Atleast my cousin who is a marine, told me, when he visited Fujairah, that Emiratis treat all South Asians in absolutely equal term. They despise everyone whose skin is a darker shade of milk tea. Anyway, different issue…I am getting deviated, classic lecturing problem.
So, apparently Paki is a racist term, and Dr Fair, just as much as me, committed a grave sin, by retweeting. Now, without further ado, I would publicly apologise, for calling Pakistanis Paki (no sarcasm!). Like I said, I didn’t know Paki is a racist term coined by the ever imaginative Brits, and I’m doubly sorry for Prof Fair (who is an extremely well-spoken and polite lady incase you don’t follow her, and unlike other Twitter celebs, she replies!) facing all the abuse just cause of a retweet. I probably wouldn’t have given a reply to anyone or for that matter a rat’s derriere if it was only me, but I honestly felt guilty.
Battlelines were drawn on understandable grounds. Ridiculous as it might sound, I was marked a racist, a South Asian, who is racist towards another group of…South Asians. Nosheen Abbas, Omar Waraich, Ayesha Haq, all marking me racist. Some supported me too, who I should mention, @SecularlyYours, @AnasMRaza, @ZarrarKhuhro and a few others, laughing it off. After a painful half an hour, everyone just forgot and moved on.
Did anyone debate on the original issue, about the laughable op-ed? Hell no! Not that op-ed, nor on the Pakistan nuclear Airforce base attack by terrorists, or Shias gunned down by “suspected gunmen”. Nomenclature and determination of racial epithets are apparently more important when it comes to National interests.
So what is racism? Oxford defines it as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior“. So for example, if two people from different race writes similar things in an exam, and one gets more marks cause of his race, that’s discrimination or racism. I am finding it a little hard to equate Untermensch and Paki. I leave it to the readers to go through my original tweet, and decide if I was racist or not, all the while bearing in mind that I am a brown skinned Bengali Indian, now living in a predominantly White society. I love when someone calls me “Desi”, I am proud when I go out in a group with friends from New York, Florida, Kentucky and Texas, who ask me to fix their computers, or decide which curry to eat with Nan. I call them Yanks (which was also initially a slur!), all the time, even when they are from deep South. I laugh when they sweat it out with a particularly hot combination of spice, which is quite bland to my taste buds. They laugh too. We all call a Nepali friend Bahadur. Our Zambian colleague jokes about “long black” coffees. The Japanese girl I know, jokes about how of all things, two thin sticks were invented and thought to be the best cutlery in a certain part of the World, all the while with me being a bit iffy that she would Seppuku the hell out of us. No one even cares.
As the massively astute JD observed about me in my FB wall regarding this incident… ” PC you’re not… “.
No. PC I’m not. I am honest, and I would apologise over and over again, for something if that hurts people. I am sorry for today, primarily cause it affected someone who didn’t actually do anything. But to shoot the messenger and ignoring the facts is a classic problem of our society and South Asian discourse. This is what results from Political Correctness, one needs to get that…and get that clear.
And the World is still silent on Syria.
Stay classic, Planet Earth…stay classic…