David Cameron, What A Racist

David Cameron, our benevolent and democratically-leader, here in the U.K, recently made a speech about the widespread problem of terrorism which the world currently faces, and the causes there of. You might be surprised to discover that this speech is almost entirely devoid of racism! Cameron instead focuses on actual and true facts, that just happen to be about the Muslim community. He kindly agreed, in his benevolent and democratic manner, to answer a few of my foolishly naïve questions about this incredibly unracist topic¹.

That Fucking Hippy: Thank you Mr Cameron, for joining us here today to talk about the problem of terrorism. Can you tell us something of where the problem stems from?

David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Conservative Party: Thank you. Well, the new and various threats that we face which are certainly not linked exclusively to any one religion or ethnic group.

TFH: Rrright.

DC, PM: Though, we should acknowledge that this threat comes in Europe overwhelmingly from young men who follow a completely perverse, warped interpretation of Islam, and who are prepared to blow themselves up and kill their fellow citizens.

TFH: How, Prime Minister, do you get from not blaming any one particular ethnic group or religion, to, well, focusing specifically upon one gender in a certain sector of a very specific religion?

DC, PM: W need to be absolutely clear on where the origins of where these terrorist attacks lie. That is the existence of an ideology, Islamist extremism.

TFH: That isn’t…that just isn’t what I asked, Sir. I…how do you come to these conclusions? That it is Islam which encourages terrorism?

DC, PM: No, you misunderstand me! Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people. We need to be clear: Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing.

TFH: But you are still blaming terrorism solely on Islam, no?

DC, PM: ….

TFH: Surely an extreme version of this peaceful and devout religion would be a super peaceful person?

DC, PM: ….

TFH: I suppose that if you wished to make an analogy, you could use Christianity? You know, that peaceful carpenter dude who encouraged people to love their neighbours as they loved themselves, and then the USA, claiming to be a Christian nation, went and laid waste to some countries, killing its citizens and ravaging the infrastructure? And that would be Christian extremism? Taking the peaceful doctrine to a conclusion which has very little to do with its progenitor? Is that what you think has happened in Islam, Prime Minister?

DC, PM: ….

TFH: In that case, how do you propose to prevent further terrorist action?

DC, PM: Europe needs to wake up to what is happening in our own countries. Of course, that means strengthening the security aspects of our response, on tracing plots, on stopping them, on counter-surveillance and intelligence gathering.

TFH: Sounds a bit like you want to follow around young, male Muslims and check their bags.

DC, PM: But not in a racist way.

TFH: Of course not, Prime Minister. What, then, do you think the reasons are for these young, male Muslims becoming terrorists?

DC, PM: Well, some people point to grievances about Western foreign policy and say, ‘Stop riding roughshod over Muslim countries and the terrorism will end.’ But there are many people, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, who are angry about Western foreign policy, but who don’t resort to acts of terrorism.

TFH: Pardon me, Prime Minister, are you suggesting that if there were more terrorists you would take the claims of colonialism in Muslim countries more seriously? How many terrorists is enough for you? I myself do not identify as a terrorist, and am angry…if not critical! of Western foreign policy, which I believe to be ridiculously harmful to the rest of the world, but if I was, would you take more vote more seriously? I’m not, I’m just not sure what you’re suggesting here.

DC, PM: Now, I’m not saying that these issues of grievance about foreign policy are not important.

TFH: But you are suggesting that they’re not relevant…

DC, PM: Yes, we must resolve the sources of tension, not least in Palestine , and yes, we should be on the side of openness and political reform in the Middle East .

TFH: Is that what we’re calling the illegal invasion of Iraq?

DC, PM ….They also point to the profusion of unelected leaders across the Middle East and say, ‘Stop propping these people up and you will stop creating the conditions for extremism to flourish.’ But this raises the question: if it’s the lack of democracy that is the problem, why are there so many extremists in free and open societies?

TFH: Smooooooth. If these extremists are, as you say, young Muslims, living in the U.K which is, ostensibly, a democracy, and perhaps you could remind me later exactly how it was that you came to power, Sir, but you question why these young Muslims might want to cause trouble within the ‘free and open’ societies in which they live now…the same free and open societies in which the leaders are calling for the policing of their social lives, their religious practices, their families…while these same Muslims may feel a great, shall we say, kinship? for the oppressed Muslims of these other countries in which unelected leaders are being kept propped up by, um, equally unelected leaders of these free and open democracies and may even be related! To people in, well, you mentioned Palestine? Do you know what is actually happening in Palestine, Sir? And if you do, if that was your brother over there, being suppressed by Israel, and you knew that the U.S.A, of which you were a citizen and in which the white majority were being taught to fear you and the Government of which supported Israel and the media of which misrepresented the plight of the Palestinian peoples, do you think that maybe you would want to call attention to all of those problems?

DC, PM: Even if we sorted out all the problems that I have mentioned, there would still be this terrorism. I believe the root lies in the existence of this extremist ideology. I would argue an important reason so many young Muslims are drawn to it comes down to a question of identity.

TFH: I believe that you might have nailed this whole question on the head, Sir! I don’t suppose that you, yourself, have ever suffered from any kind of oppression? Being the able-bodied, upper class, well-educated white man who you are? I hesitate to make any assumptions about your mental health.

DC, PM: In the UK , some young men find it hard to identify with the traditional Islam practiced at home by their parents, whose customs can seem staid when transplanted to modern Western countries. But these young men also find it hard to identify with Britain too, because we have allowed the weakening of our collective identity.

TFH: Our collective identity? What…is that? I…barely share a collective identity with my family, at the moment, so I’m not really sure how the entire country, coming as we do from a multitude of backgrounds, might share a collective identity…Could you explain further, Sir, for the equally confused readers at home?

DC, PM: Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream. We’ve failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We’ve even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values.

TFH: What is this ‘our values’? I…am a white genderqueer FAAB non-binary individual, well-educated, middle class, well off…privileged, some might say. Just like you…but I doubt, very much, that we share similar values. Firstly, I try not to be racist! You’ve made an entire speech around policing Muslim lives. If our collective identity is fucking racist, then I choose not to be a part of that. My values are also, attempted anti-racism. There is an analogy that I would like to share with you here. Society is like a moving walkway, heading towards racism. Some people are walking along it, quite fast. These people are actively racist. These people, are you. Some people are just standing on it. They have multi-racial friends, they don’t use racist slurs, but they still benefit, if they are white, from white privilege. In order to NOT BE RACIST you must be walking fast in the opposite direction to the walkway. You must actively take part in anti-racist actions. I am trying to walk in that direction. These are my values. I don’t think they line up with your values, Mr Cameron. And yet, I am white! I have lived in the U.K my entire life! My parents vote Tory! I am not a Muslim! Neither am I a terrorist! And yet, we do not share the same values! HOW CAN THIS BE?!?!?! Also, I believe this ‘mainstream’ to be one of those strange, illusory beasts which you believe in and many others have never seen. What is it that you believe the ‘mainstream’ to which Muslims ought belong actually is? If Muslims live in Muslim communities, then Islam is the mainstream, in that area. Or is culture only valid if it’s suitably white?

DC, PM: When a white person holds objectionable views, racist views for instance, we rightly condemn them.

TFH: I might have to take a minute, Sir, to get stark raving drunk in order to be able to finish this conversation of magical folding logic. Can you hang on a minute? [A few minutes pass] OKAY! Let’s get this racism back on the road! What, exactly, do you think is the problem here? How is such a peaceable religion becoming a HOTBED OF TERRORISM? Sorry, sorry, I get loud when I’m drunk and people aren’t making any logic.

DC, PM: The problem comes when Muslims meet together and talk to each other. Internet chatrooms are virtual meeting places where attitudes are shared, strengthened and validated. In some mosques, preachers of hate can sow misinformation about the plight of Muslims elsewhere. In our communities, groups and organisations led by young, dynamic leaders promote separatism by encouraging Muslims to define themselves solely in terms of their religion. All these interactions can engender a sense of community, a substitute for what the wider society has failed to supply. Now, you might say, as long as they’re not hurting anyone, what is the problem with all this?

TFH: YES! That is exactly what I was going to say next. Although, I also planned to inform you that the Muslim community is not a ‘substitute’ for anything, it is a community. Or would you also say that the people I play badminton with are a substitute for what the wider society has failed to supply me. Should we be going on picnics with our entire neighbourhoods? Do you want to come down to Bristol for a cup of tea, Prime Minister? You haven’t met my Grandma and I feel as though her only seeing her family, her carer and her cleaner is a mere substitute for what the wider society has failed to supply.

DC, PM: Well, I’ll tell you why.

TFH: I was hoping you’d say that.

DC, PM: As evidence emerges about the backgrounds of those convicted of terrorist offences, it is clear that many of them were initially influenced by what some have called ‘non-violent extremists’, and they then took those radical beliefs to the next level by embracing violence.

Whether they are violent in their means or not, we must make it impossible for the extremists to succeed. Now, for governments, there are some obvious ways we can do this. We must ban preachers of hate from coming to our countries. We must also proscribe organisations that incite terrorism against people at home and abroad. Governments must also be shrewder in dealing with those that, while not violent, are in some cases part of the problem. We need to think much harder about who it’s in the public interest to work with. Some organisations that seek to present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community are showered with public money despite doing little to combat extremism.

TFH: WAIT. Are you suggesting that we, sorry, ‘we’, ought to police Muslim communities? Decide who they can and cannot have preaching in their places of worship? Not give money to certain organisations because they’re Muslim? Islam is…a gateway drug? To terrorism? Is that…Are you…

DC, PM: So we should properly judge these organisations: do they believe in universal human rights – including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separation?

TFH: Mr. Cameron, Honourable Sir…DO YOU?!

DC, PM: The extremism we face is a distortion of Islam, so these arguments, in part, must be made by those within Islam. So let us give voice to those followers of Islam in our own countries – the vast, often unheard majority – who despise the extremists and their worldview. Let us engage groups that share our aspirations.

TFH: That sounds almost reasonable, actually, Sir. Are you sure you’ve thought this through? Letting Muslims speak for themselves? About an issue which concerns them? Oh wait, sorry, what was that last part again?

DC, PM: Let us engage groups that share our aspirations.

TFH: Thank fuck! I thought I’d stepped into an alternate reality where you were becoming thoughtful, and not-quite-as-racist! You’re only going to let the Muslims who agree with you have a voice. Everyone who doesn’t, I imagine, will be accused of supporting those extremists you’ve been banging on about. What else?!

DC, PM: Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and a much more active, muscular liberalism. A passively tolerant society says to its citizens, as long as you obey the law we will just leave you alone. It stands neutral between different values. But I believe a genuinely liberal country does much more; it believes in certain values and actively promotes them. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, democracy, the rule of law, equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality.

TFH: I’m…flabbergasted…again…You…freedom? You’re promoting…freedom? But Muslims don’t get to choose which preachers come to their places of worship? They don’t get to hang out in internet chatrooms because you’re afraid they might talk about how pissed off they are with the West? They’re not allowed money from the Government for their organisations and societies? And this is…freedom of speech, freedom of worship, equal rights? Please, continue! I am intrigued!

DC, PM: I also believe we should encourage meaningful and active participation in society, by shifting the balance of power away from the state and towards the people. That way, common purpose can be formed as people come together and work together in their neighbourhoods.

TFH: Um. Is…so…Muslims are only meaningfully participating with society if they are chilling out with the white man? Muslims hanging out in Muslim-only communities, where, y’know, they might feel, uh, safer, because there are less racist white people who think they’re all terrorists, isn’t participating in society? My Grandma barely leaves the house except for medical appointments and talks only to family, but I guess because she’s white and racist, that’s totes cool? Let’s get old people on the streets! They need to meaningfully and actively participate in society! C’mon Mabel, what do you mean you’ve had two hip replacements and keep having mini-strokes? ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE WITH SOCIETY IN A MEANINGFUL WAY, DAMMIT, for the Prime Minister has decreed it thus.

DC, PM: So, let me end with this.

TFH: You mean, you’re going to be quiet after this? Thank…thank…oh no, shit. You still run the country.

DC, PM: This terrorism is completely indiscriminate and has been thrust upon us.

TFH: Whut? I…that 9/11 thing, which targeted the Twin Towers and the Pentagon…the USAian centers of commerce and war…that was indiscriminate? I always thought whoever did it was kind of saying, um, QUIT FUCKING UP OUR COUNTRIES WITH YOUR ECONOMIC POLICIES AND WARS. But, hey! I guess I could be wrong. Thank you for joining us, Mr. Cameron. It’s been emotional.

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1. This a mock-interview. Just want to make this clear before I get swarmed with e-mails saying “But the PM gave no such interview!”

This is a guest post by That Fucking Hippie. That Fucking Hippy points at things That Fucking Hippy does not like and says “I don’t like that”. TFH is a FAAB genderqueer non-binary individual who is made of sheer awesomeness as you can see nice people of the olde interwebes. I’d like to show you this magical page and tell you how it still works!


The SuperBowl Is Over And The Non-Rapist Is Going To Disneyland

So, the SuperBowl came and went.  They guy who did not rape two women was chosen as the MVP.  I got a text message from a friend at about 5pm yesterday asking me “Packers or Steelers?” and I replied with “a bullet to my head…my team’s arch rivals or a two-time rapist.  ugh.”

Given that situation, I did what any rabid fan would do – I took my family to an Italian restaurant and ate carpaccio, gnocchi & gelato until the wheel barrel was summoned.  While I sipped my beverage and gorged myself on EVOO and fresh-baked bread, my spouse asked me about the game and for whom I might be cheering.  She was needling me deliberately, since she knows full well and good that the wounds from my team’s exit from the playoffs were still fresh and painful.  She was shocked when I told her about how I could never support a rapist, much less a two-time rapist and therefore wished that my team’s rival be the victor.  She, a card-carrying member of the the-only-real-sport-is-futbol club, had no idea of the assaults by Ben Rapelisberger.  I explained it to her in great detail while her eyes glazed over and she sipped her wine, pretending not to hear a word I said nor even care.

Sometime after I finished my oratory, I overheard someone at the next table say the word “rapist” and I immediately wondered if I could eat my dinner with her.  In this cozy little trattoria, the bartender had posted a television in front of the bottom-shelf creme-de-menthe for those of us that needed some advertising, hokum and jingoism with our antipasto.  As I excused myself from the table under the pretense of verifying the correct time in Pago Pago via collect call, I made my way to the hoi polloi amassed around the television set.  The game was the spectacle I expected and dreaded, but my sole request for satisfaction was indeed there – the rapist was losing.

Looking to my right, I noticed the person whom I had made a point of eavesdropping earlier.  Being an Aries male, I knew that my opinion and agreement would be foremost on her mind, so I spoke up.  As it turns out, she did agreed with me that it is a crying shame that the media machine of hype, advertising, delusion and sleight-of-hand that is the SuperBowl had slapped a coat of paint on a 6’6″ 260lb two-time rapist so that they could sell cars, wireless phone service, carbonated soda, beer and insurance – all with a veneer of red, white and blue-in-the-face horseshit.

I love the NFL and many other sports.  Human existence, identity and experience are measured and defined in the physical and conscious realms.  The beauty and splendor of what it means to be human, alive and aware – can be expressed in action, word, thought, sound and any measurement of the senses.  Sports are a beautiful example of the meeting of body and mind.  This existence and this universe are filled with beauty and horror, sadness and joy, fear and calm – sports are no different and they are not exempt.

I can accept that a a pro player may turn out to be a rapist or a murderer or a thief or a torturer of animals.  I can even accept that the pro players benefit from the same abuses of privilege which allow the children of elected leaders to avoid dying in the wars that their fathers vigorously pursue and profit from.

But, I don’t have to like it.  I’m glad that two-time rapist lost and I can’t wait for karma to catch up to the sonofabitch.  I hope his dick falls off.  I hope that the rest of his born days are spent sliding from privilege while he thinks about the lives he scarred with his excess, vanity and brutality.

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This is a post by Arvan. I’d like to remind all you nice people of the Open Guest Posting Policy Page and how it still works.

Cartographies Of Struggle

As the eldest daughter of a Hindu family, I am expected to occupy a number of spaces that intertwine, merge and blur with the larger idea or identity that I like to believe is me, somewhere inside, that will still remain once the layers of cultural expectations, communally re-enforced values are taken away, not to mention that little role-play where I imagine for a while what would happen had colonisation not been a part of my collective history or memory. Very little of what I believe in — politically or otherwise — is designed to fit into this public persona of the Dutiful Indian Daughter™, we’re expected to be infinitely nice, obedient, subservient and perhaps more importantly, as voiceless as possible; all of this erasing and silencing goes down in the name of religion, tradition and customs. There is a clear demarcation between what is publicly acceptable and what isn’t, the moment that line is crossed, we become people like ‘that’; and everything we do reflects this invisible wall. More often than not, whatever is the ‘negative’ is seen as ‘Western’ and by extension it is bad — this list includes being independent, setting personal and bodily boundaries, speaking too much in English, wearing ‘revealing’ outfits, swearing, smoking, drinking alcohol, making ‘funny’ faces while eating ice-creams¹, sitting with one’s legs uncrossed among many other things. Most of these rules exist for bodies that identify or are read as ‘feminine’ — who cares as how people really identify themselves as long as society can can extend the chromatic heteronormativity to any body it wishes? — bodies that identify or are seen as ‘masculine’ get away with relatively more transgressions; in fact the closer they look ‘masculine’ the easier to overstep and discard boundaries. Meanwhile, ‘real’ identities swirl inside, lay hidden for the most part. God forbid you’re Queer in such a mix, then it’s just Dr. Dilbag’s guarantee to cure teh Queer out of your crotch! But I digress.

Contrary to popular opinion that ‘colonisation is over‘, we still walk move see swirl stand sleep in the DoucheColonial Daze, still go by Victorian standards², still see the image of the Woman In The Wet Sari as iconic to Bollywood cinema — an image that typically leaves the woman at the mercy of the ‘evil rain’ to not have her sari cling to her so much as to ‘make’ Randomly Lurking Dude rape or assault her, she becomes a part of Nature’s fantasy, the dude’s desire-object-animal as well as a spectacle for the viewer watching the film, washing guilt of assault completely away as it’s a part of a ‘performance’. Having dusty bodies open to assault without any kind of responsibility sounds vaguely familiar to colonisation, no? — as well as use the same excuse of ‘she shouldn’t have worn such revealing clothes, if she did then she can’t complain’ in law courts for cases of sexual assault and rape to citing that jeans on school campuses are ‘vulgar‘, we are very far away from shedding the Collectively Colonised Skin. Whether we acknowledge it or not, most of our fundamental ideas of ‘acceptable’ behaviour, sexual or otherwise, reflects Colonial ideals; there are so many who believe ‘reproduction that doesn’t produce children that we can make into Ideal Indian Citizens is of no use’. At this point my LadyBrain wonders if Blake and his supposedly ‘libertarian’ views — libertarian at the cost of his wife, as always — crafted our ‘modern’ sexual sensibility, or are we that controlled by the State. In any case, this web of colonial meanings, forms and words is the one through which we craft and project ourselves, and wrenching ourselves from such draconian standards is no easy feat³.

In such tangled ideas, as Dusty Ladies, our spaces are disciplined and marked, the body is policed and kept as controllable as possible. From such cracks of gender binaries, forced borders and chalk lines, there is a healthy proportion of lesbian and transgendered people despite the valiant — where valiant is the new repulsive — efforts to keep them out of narratives and as invisible as possible, and the lesbians that Deepa Mehta’s Fire brought out in the 90’s till date remains one of the biggest Indian Queer protests. I remember watching photos of women with placards that read, “I am a Lesbian AND an Indian” as a 10-year-old in the newspapers, wondering why is the inclusion of the word ‘Indian’ so important on that placard. Today, I don’t see nationality as inconsequential, considering an overwhelmingly popular opinion is “Such things (read Queer people) don’t happen Here. We are nice, good, traditional people. It must be happening in all those countries Over There”, clearly identifying being Queer to being UnIndian, as if Sarojini Naidu or Toru Dutt never played on homo-eroticism, ever! Especially not when speaking of the ‘Nation’ or ‘Nation-Mother’. That must be some Western Bugger’s doing, surely. Being Queer is being Other, walking and ingesting life as the Outsider because Indian society has no space for ‘such things’, if I am to go by the larger nationalist narrative. Recently, I watched a Bengali documentary, “More Than Just A Friend” on Bengali Lesbians and Genderqueer identifying people, where most of them admitted being hurled with the word ‘Lesbian’ on the streets, in a largely Begali-speaking narrative. This English word sticks out as a sore thumb, it sounded harsher than the curled Bengali consonants too. Using terms like ‘lesbian’ or ‘gay’, terms that are specifically colonial in their origin, form and meaning is another step to Other the Outsider’s body and identity. I could claim to the the song-beats of Universal Sisterhood™, say that the term ‘lesbian’ is a liberating one, that being lesbian and Indian isn’t a special set of complications, then I wouldn’t live up to my reputation as a postcolonial reverse-racist now, would I?

Similar to the term ‘hijra’ that stands specifically to the caste-class-intersexed sexualities of the subcontinent– which are sometimes forced to keep the ‘tradition’ going — words like ‘lesbian’, ‘trans’, ‘genderqueer’, ‘gay’ etc don’t completely convey the dusty complications that come with these identities. Perhaps it’s time to start re-defining these terms in our languages — Urdu has a term ‘humjinsi’ which means ‘outside of gender’ — to root them in our crisscrossed hued cartography of identity and of struggle to be included in the term ‘human’. Besides, now that we have a word and a defined term in a regional language, those inane excuses that queer people exist only Over There can be cut up to pieces.

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1. Someone I know got reprimanded for eating ice-cream ‘seductively’ out on public. How I wish I made that up.

2. Parts of our Constitution, particularly that pertaining to sexuality will transport you back to 1821.

3. Number of Bhaba’s or Spivak’s essays do not change this reality, as much as I’d like to believe it.

 

Sub-Merged Margins And Us

Last week while returning a couple of books at the library, I saw the woman in the line next to mine was holding a copy of  ‘Writing Caste, Writing Gender‘, a book I’ve read cover-to-cover a few times. She saw me looking at the book and started  a conversation about the editor and how this was her first book on Dalit feminism. So I told her a few other names, and she marveled how I knew ‘so much’ about ‘them’ — as it turns out I’ve got ‘Privilege’ and ‘Hindu’ stamped on my forehead in invisible neon ink — because as she assumed correctly, I couldn’t possibly be ‘one of them’¹. While I smiled at her, I was cringing inwards to see how swiftly she spoke in ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ speak, forgetting the ‘We’, we forged somewhere in the middle, if the Constitution is to be believed at all. As insulting her words were — of course she ‘meant well’, after all Hindu Ladies have never really been evil, check our scriptures if you want! — this erasure of Dalit people, or the failure to acknowledge them as humans isn’t new. ‘Caste’ seems to be a word we love to forget, dropping it from our consonants as if it doesn’t matter at all, or as if the entire country just comprises of one monolithic Hindu ethnic identity. Moving across borders, an otherwise non-imperial article on Nepali bonded labour of little girls mentions the intra-generational debt, servitude and communal ‘tradition’ of gendered slavery, but yet again re-writes caste-struggle as a largely class-based one. Any time people want to play hide and seek with the term, I can only think of my aunt who calls Dalit women, ‘women like that‘ and almost wish I could ask them to pronounce the word like I do with my students when we learn new French words and phrases, just to make sure the word ‘caste’ can sound from their tongues too.

Looking beyond India’s borders, when the words ‘an Indian lady‘ are mentioned, the image that is the most popular is the Sari-Clad dusty woman, preferably looking docile and happy. Even a Dusty Lady as internationally recognised as Arundhati Roy, or rather the image² we know as ‘Ms. Roy’ caters to the same trope where beautiful bodies of spectacular South Asian women in silk and cotton saris, face framed with wispy, curly hair invites the consumer to gobble and cement the Image Of The Third World Woman as the one of Serenity, Peace and Wisdom™ and by extension further exotifying us. And in this one idealised ‘womanhood’ or ‘femininity’, Dalit or ‘lower-caste’ femininity, needless to say has no space to survive. No matter how subtle a form of body-policing is, when you erase or censor a body you censor words and voices too, the art of which Hindu society has perfected over centuries. In feminist circles and academia, talking about the Self as the Margin is a lofty trend, for occupying ‘Marginalia’ is the new PovertyPorn, where you can critique and consume your position in one easy move! While writing while woman is a hard job, writing while ‘marginal’³ is a far more lucrative option — especially if you belong to a community that does indeed squat in the mud, for nothing says ‘marginal’ like a ‘tribe’ or a ‘family’ that lived on trees or was related to Gandhi. While manufacturing this parallel universal that caters solely to the DoucheColonial Gaze of the Universal, bodies that are Othered step another foot back into oblivion. This is probably why we know of Jumpha Lahiri and not Bama today. Embodying the ‘marginal’ in writing films, in manners wise or otherwise, smacks too much of the lens filmmakers like Shekhar Kapur or Danny Boyle use, namely: See How They Squat Prettily, while guilting the audience into tears and gasps and nodding solemnly when it comes to collecting the profits. Playing this CharityCharade works only if the audience wants to see the same breakdown of seeing brown (feminine) bodies being saved from brown (masculine) bodies or any other notion that doesn’t challenge any Empires, of years past or the one we live in now.

A few years ago, when I went to Delhi the first time, like the over-excited tourist I did go to see the Taj Mahal and the tour guide spoke of length about the screens through which the Emperor’s wives looked from, the rationale behind them being somewhat similar to that of the hijab, to protect the woman from the MaleGaze and to preserve a certain amount of modesty. He used a funny word, he called it ‘women’s wall’ and since that day, any time I see any predominantly Mughal construction, I always look for that ‘women’s wall’. Recently, in many academic and theoretical discussions, this ‘marble slab’ or women’s wall builds itself up too, whenever the talk shifts to ‘those lower castes’ who always must be ‘given a solution to work with’. As upper-caste Hindu Ladies, there are quite a few systems that keep our tongues heavy, at the same time, we perpetuate the same suppression by keeping other feminine bodies and spaces as curtailed as we can, playing into the bait of embodying the victimiser, if only for a little while. Margins still exist, even if they’re constructed by feminine spaces or bodies; the ‘lower’ caste feminists need to erase their invisibility one step at a time, in spaces that are feminist and otherwise; whether we acknowledge this de-tonguing or not, it is a daily reality for them. Like the Bigger Whiter Universal culture sees many women of colour as ‘revolutionaries’ — or ‘terrorists’, pick one according to your mood! — as we come from ‘politically unstable countries’, the Dalit Woman is also cast as a Maoist, out to kill and destroy the precious government.

The Gendered- Subaltern, which occupies the lowest step on the ladder of humanity, is seen as a ‘submerged’ land, which will unfold and break away from the chromatic hegemony of Upper Castes and Classes, only through unraveling itself via memories, private testimonies and mainly, by re-writing and re-voicing it’s ‘voicelessness’. In this frenzy to ‘heal’ and ‘join’ spaces, people, communities — only tokens, mind you — repeatedly cast ourselves as the ‘marginal’, the detongued animal-subaltern-marginal sub-merges, bobs up and dives into silence. A few years ago, Spivak asked whether this Subaltern even has the ability to speak, today another question pops up, IF the Subaltern speaks, can we even listen anymore?

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1. We have a lot of convenient labels for all sorts of unnecessary words. Instead of saying ‘people’ or ‘Dalit’ we just say, ‘them’; which serves as a distancing and a condescending tool, all in one.

2. This ‘image’ of Arundhati Roy has nothing to do with her as a persona, activist or an author but rather how this ‘persona’ is packaged and sold to us, engaging in (ironically) the same dichotomies her texts generally break away from.

3. ‘Marginal’ is the liberal-elite version of the Marginal –as it were — where differences are constructed so they can mark, decode bodies and cultures easily for instant consumption.

When Freedoms Are Threatened, #1

There comes a time in American politics where the Politicians take certain movements too far. Such as the banning of Gays in the military. Or the attempts to ban Firearms, and Violent Video Games (in California, no less.) What they try to make a point in, is that by taking away violence in video games, or removing firearms from the public vendors, you suddenly remove any possible means for anyone to get their hands soaking in blood. But this is wrong, you see. The Criminals who attain these weapons when otherwise being unable to purchase them publicly, will be even more dangerous. They will have access to all sorts of underground arms that common folk have no idea where to even begin to look. And asking around is suspicious… And then about video games? Jeez, kids at such a young age will just go outside and play “war” with each other. Beat each other up, use play-guns to “shoot” each other, and imagine maiming and bleeding out. So, what’s the point? I will say that Politicians like those who try and pass these movements are either a) trying to make a name for themselves(McCarthy vs. Communism), or b) just plain idiotic, or c) both.

Just Plain Idiotic

In the last 10 years, during of which the 8 that President Bush took office, the Senate believed it had more power than the congress originally allowed them, and took great advantage of it. The Evidence? Passing several business related laws to send jobs from various established companies, such as Boeing, overseas to countries – mainly China. Or let’s say, the Patriot Act, which is only two or three steps away from Martial Law, and the lawful invasion of privacy. (Quick Point: The Patriot Act, under a different name in the 60’s and 70’s, allowed police officers to mine data from civilian activity to weed out Communists, Hippies, and Gays.)

In short, the banning of Video Games and Firearms break the first two Constitutional Amendments: 1, and 2. These are the most common of debated Amendments, the Right to Free Expression, and the Right to Bear Arms.

The Right to Free Expression: Video Game makers aren’t elves who live in a tree who make diabolical games in order to enslave people and rack up money using obscene prices (unless you’re EA.) They are a group of Artists and Programmers who are dedicated to a common goal, of expressing their creations. This is especially true when they make games that often look controversial, or appeal to very small groups of cult-style fans. There are of course other supposed “repercussions,” such as:

  • violent games cause addiction
  • violent games cause crimes
  • violent games cause social deviancy

We should remember that Parents, Lawmakers, and Idiots, will always target things they don’t like FIRST. The sad incident of Columbine was first blamed utterly on Doom, one of the original First Person Shooters of that time. Yet, the game “Doom” didn’t show up in the diaries of the two assailants of this massacre. What was pointed out by them was bullying, teasing, and the inability to act or think in classrooms. One was a great manipulator, and the other was a great follower. Neither really had social lives. Therefore, it must be blamed on Video Games. (See Above, “Causes Social Deviancy,” “Causes Crime.”)

Allow me to explain a little bit about addictions. Normally, they happen on their own. Whether or not someone has an addiction, is mostly based on their “Addictive Nature.” Sexual Addicts, Drug Addicts, and Alcohol Addicts (or Game Addicts) aren’t really there for the thrill, excitement, or pleasure… rather for the power, need, and habitual nature. Game addicts aren’t any different from the other Addicts. They seek out something, anything to defeat boredom, and the normal every-day beat of life. Often this happens without realizing that this escape becomes their every-day life.

Let me point something out about the Grand Theft Auto games. On news broadcasts, in the Senate discussions, and in talk shows, GTA has been demonized for allowing the player to kill Police Officers, beat Hookers with baseball bats, and run various people over without any cause of belief that you’ve done anything wrong. Well, it’s true! One, it’s a video game! The moment you walk in front of a Police Officer and point a gun at him, think of two things. 1. You probably don’t know how to handle a real firearm, as opposed to your high-rank in the video game. 2. The Police Officer knows how to not only use their sidearm, but WILL fire on you if he/she is threatened. Next, people need to think about what they’re saying. Many Politicians sleep with Hookers, but then deny them their rights on the Senate Floor, but then give them the same “humane leniency” in video games. This is kinda screwed up, honestly. While there isn’t any reason for beating up anyone, the game simply “allows” this to happen. Meaning, there are no missions where you actually are forced to beat up hookers. The same style of Postal 2, is that you are “allowed” to do as you wish. I once went through a GTA game WITHOUT beating up a hooker. Let’s look at it another way. Hookers in Television: Bad, nasty women who hear all the good talk, and sell that information. They’re dirty, full of diseases, and you should probably stay away from them. Hookers in Movies: Bad nasty women who like being dominated by their Pimp, and do so voluntarily. In the case they don’t like it, the movie becomes based around them in a freedom-seeking hour fest that somehow introduces a Manly Man to do a lot of fighting. Yet, in GTA, Hookers just act like Hookers IRL: they want you to get “in the mood” so you buy their services. So, you can either buy their services, deny their services, or in GTA, run them over with a Semi-Truck at full speed. For more on this topic, you can watch this video.

Who’s The Tool Now?

Much like adolescent Emos, guns are highly misunderstood. They are often confused as being “violent” and “dangerous.” Yes, they are. However, like many tools of trade, anything able to craft or destroy is considered dangerous. Take for example, how many workers lose fingers or entire limbs due to the Industrial Machine, in comparison to actual gun related injuries or death. It’s actually rather small! Next, take Automobile deaths per year, and compare them to gun deaths! Another gap! Yet Automobiles, for their sincere advantages over (gasp!) walking, they will never be banned. Since guns don’t necessarily have a practical use in modern society — not here, here, here or even here! — (sigh) nevermind. The above videos are a reminder that it isn’t always the criminal who has the firearms. But let me tell you that these videos would be far more gruesome and tragic if those same firearms were banned. Across the United States, the most common gun-related robberies are related to Pizza-Deliverers, who are lured to the robbers home… or taxi drivers. California has been very hard-pressed to ban firearms to the public, but considering how many well-armed gangs there are in California, I would say that it would be very stupid to disarm the innocent half

Another point that I have, is that many news casters and journalists very rarely look at Police Reports given to the public for common knowledge, which will show the actual numbers recorded with Firearm Involvement with Crimes, as opposed to “trusting” private research institutes. The number of true gun-related assaults are very small, even in urban cities. Well, this is because of how expensive Firearms are in a Gun-Shop, and surprisingly (or not so) more expensive in the underground trades. Not to mention, a knife is more deadly than a gun in many aspects. For one, a bullet when penetrating a soft target may only cause a small entrance wound, and an exit wound of only an inch or so more wide (With the exception of Hollow-Points, and some larger rounds/cartridges.) Most deaths related to gunfire are mostly due to shock and bleed-outs, but they can actually be treated easily. Knives on the other hand are much more mortal. Do your own research, I don’t really need to explain the idea of metal slowly rubbing against skin, as opposed to a bullet that shoots faster than the blink of an eye.

Rather than outright banning the Private Trade and Selling of Firearms, why not just require a permit that requires schooling and training? If a Police Officer must pass a training exam to earn his 9mm, why shouldn’t common folk like us? And I don’t strictly mean being able to hit the bulls’ eye at least 3 of 50 shots, I mean proper handling and knowledge. You know, the most important aspects of knowing when, where, how, and why to use a firearm for personal protection. If someone doesn’t know how to properly store their weapons away from children, or even the robbers themselves, they shouldn’t own a weapon of any kind. In fact, either your child should never know you have a firearm, or you should at least have the common sense to teach them about how dangerous the weapon is. No, wait, always educate everyone about dangerous tools that you have around your home. Or, just don’t own one.

My main point is, that the Gov’t should have the option to regulate weapon trade as far as difficulty goes, but remember that there will always be someone with a much more easy way to sell a gun – even if it were illegal. Just look at how well banning Marijuana has improved in keeping it away from people. Heh, not very well. The Gov’t also needs to constantly remember just why Thomas Jefferson and John Adams wanted the public to own firearms. Personal Defense, yes, but more importantly so the public can rise up and have a fighting chance against any possible dictatorship. It is so that a Militia can defend their country in time of dire need, should it arise, instead of running away. If many of our own revolutionaries ran away from conflict, then Britain may still be in control of America, Canada, India, and Africa with their colonies. Perhaps even China would be a part of their growing colonization? Oh wait, guns were only a small portion of the American Revolution. Barely anyone remembers all the talk, paperwork, and community aid that actually won-over the war for America, and all that jazz.

 

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