Crazy Rich Asians is not social work


I have not watched Crazy Rich Asians. Perhaps I will for my cultural edification. Unlike some people, I don’t care too much about “representation.” This isn’t for ideological reasons…I just have weak group identity/identification, and on an implicit level, I probably think I’m a unique enough person that no other is going to “represent” me in the media, ever. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

But the reality is that the Western Asian cohort in the cultural space is dominated by the aggrieved chattering class. So there is this piece in The Guardian, Where are the brown people? Crazy Rich Asians draws tepid response in Singapore. It references another piece, ‘CRAZY RICH ASIANS’ IS NOT A RADICAL WIN FOR REPRESENTATION.

About the author of the second piece:

Sangeetha Thanapal is an artist and writer working on the intersections of race, gender and body in Asia and Australia. She is the originator of the term ‘Chinese Privilege,’ which situates institutionalized racism within Singapore. Her fantasy fiction and political writing have been published by Djed Press, Brown Girl Mag and many more.

First, about “representation.” I put it in quotes because in a social justice context the word means something particular. For example, “representation” of South Koreans means Sarah bane-of-goblin-kind Jeong. Not, an evangelical Korean missionary in the Middle East. In the academy, “representation” means a good regional, racial, and gender proportionality. Not, reflecting the political and religious variation in the population.

Crazy Rich Asians are Asian, but not the representational kind of Asian. Sangeetha Thanapal though is a representational Asian: she’s cosmopolitan, educated, and woke. Ironically, her South Asianness is almost incidental. Kind of a wrapping around the real substance of her ideological affinity to a certain tendency which spans all shades.

The second issue are the specific particulars to Singapore and the relationship between East Asians and South Asians, or more generally, “Chinese” and “Indians.” It is a simple fact that Chinese people are racist against Indians for being dark, for India being a poor an underdeveloped nation, as well as differences in comportment and social mores. It is also a simple fact that Indians are racist against Chinese people, who are perceived to be strange-looking dog-eaters who lack deeper values than the acquisition of money and power.

If you want to represent the true dynamics of the Chinese and Indian relationship in Singapore, then you need to represent the racism and segregation which is mutual. Of course, there are other dimensions as well, such as the growing number of mixed-race Chindians. Unless that is, you want to “represent” your nonexistent utopian vision?

Which brings me to the big issue about objections to Crazy Rich Asians: the critiques are reductive and simplistic, even if they utilize layered and verbose textures. Singapore is dominated by a Chinese ruling class, and there is racism against minorities. But a massive influx of highly educated professional Indian immigrants in the past few decades into Singapore is why Indians now earn a bit more on average than Chinese in Singapore. But this summary is misleading too, and masks the diversity of the South Asian population, from well-off Indian immigrants to manual laborers from Bangladesh, as well as the long-established Tamil community which is itself socioeconomically diverse.

Finally, there are some things that Thanapal and others bring up as “Chinese privilege” which I don’t see as a privilege. Singapore is a mostly Chinese city, in a region where Chinese economic power is ascendant. It is entirely reasonable that the city-state should be given preference to English and Mandarin Chinese as the dual languages. Thanapal’s Tamil language is not hard-wired into her being like her dark skin and curly hair. Tamil can continue to be maintained in the traditional Tamil community, but in Chinese dominated city-state it seems reasonable that Tamils should learn the lingua franca of the majority and adopt it as their own. Mandarin can be a fine first language even if your hair is blonde or your skin is black.

Chinese Indians speak Indian languages, and when they speak English they naturally have an Indian accent.

I’m not saying my viewpoints are the “right” ones. But, for various reasons my viewpoints are not not “represented” in the mainstream international media. And I’m not the only one who feels this way. So there, I said it.

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63 thoughts on “Crazy Rich Asians is not social work”

  1. I don’t know about this. The Chinese are demographically and culturally dominant in Singapore, which everyone living there (locals and expats) knows full well, but there’s an argument to be made for not having this dominance be in-your-face to the minorities (saying that everyone should probably learn Mandarin would be rubbing it in, I think.) The late Lee Kuan Yew engineered a compact (constitution?) between the various ethnic groups that was expressly mean to avoid racial conflict, by giving everyone the impression that the state and society respects them equally. So English (or Singlish) is the established lingua franca, and that has also made Singapore prosper by taking advantage of the globalizing trends in recent decades.

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      1. Perhaps, but they seem to get by fine with English (for now.) I admit it’s hard for me to imagine Mandarin evolving into a global language. A lingua franca for SE Asia, sure, but I’m not sure how it’ll gain adoption beyond that region. Japan and Korea (not to mention India) are far more likely to invest in English language proficiency before they go for Mandarin. (Unless you know something to the contrary.)

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    1. ps i assume u know that mandarin is not the native language of almost all the singapore chinese, at least not ancestrally. mostly fujian and hakka ppl.

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      1. Yes, I know that Singapore Chinese traditionally spoke Hokkien (mainly.) People your age and mine are generally bilingual in Hokkien and Mandarin (their parents are unlikely to speak Mandarin) whereas the GenXers probably only speak Mandarin. (This is what I gathered when I lived there for a brief while.)

        Still, Mandarin being a “Chinese” language probably will likely grate on the minorities. It’s like in India where Hindi finds easy acceptance in places as diverse as Punjab and Maharashtra, because they speak related languages (which can be marketed as simply dialects to people who are not linguists.) But Hindi is a much harder sell in places like Tamil Nadu.

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          1. If the Mandarin Chinese language has a global ascendance, Indians should welcome it because it demonstrates the ability of a non-English and fellow Asian language to hold its own in its territorial domain and then overtake abroad as a lingua franca gradually. I don’t know why we would feel the need to “bat for” the English language to the point that it sets us on a confrontation course against other groups. I made this point regarding the gradual Spanish language demographic turnover ongoing in the US as well.

            Historically many Chinese scholars strengthened their own culture and civilization by learning Sanskrit and Pali etc. Perhaps it is time for Indians to buttress Indian knowledge via mass level learning of Mandarin Chinese. I have heard the Chinese language worldwide web is its own beast, and south Asians seem to be disconnected from it, when we really shouldn’t be so.

            Is there a decent amount of Chinese scholarship in Pakistan? I ask since the Pakistanis are politically close to China. Or is it just politicking only and Pakistanis have as much real Sinophilia as India? I think Anglophilia has stopped being useful to Indian civilization a while ago. Excessive Anglophilia in our culture means we only operate in a binary of the “local” and “global”. At most a person in a Kolkata public library has access to and will ultimately be groomed in some gray area between Tagore and Shakespeare. We don’t know a Tagore equivalent in Sinhalese, not directly at least. We only know them through an English translation. We also don’t know a Shakespeare equivalent in Chinese or Swahili. Again it would happen via English translation.

            Globalization with English as single lingua franca instead of multiple lingua franca is actually not globalization but increased compartmentalization.

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          2. ‘Globalization with English as single lingua franca instead of multiple lingua franca is actually not globalization but increased compartmentalization.’
            -not quite sure I agree with you on this. Considering that most people are at most bi-lingual, a hub and spoke model for translation is the only way for transmission of otherwise localised literature. How else would an Indonesian read works published in Russia, and vice versa? English is the default hub today thanks to the internet and Anglo-Saxon pre-eminence, and while it was not always like this, there is no reason why Indians can’t use it to their advantage. India has been plugged into the ‘matrix’ sufficiently long enough to leverage significant advantages from it, without surrendering the keys of culture to it. This tide is probably not going to turn, so development of an Indian-ised English is the way ahead. The English language can be used to spread Indian ideas (yoga and krishna-consciousness jump to mind) and Indian soft power and this is where English can be very useful to indian civilisation. Might be controversial of me to say this, but in this regard English has proven to be much more useful to the cause of Indian civilisation than the language of previous conquerers such as Persian. The medieval islamic rulers did take much science and philosophy from India and transmit it West without giving much credit to it. Hence for example algebra and the decimal system are seen as Arab-originated, while the credit lies further east.

            Indians are also a pragmatic bunch, and there are now long settled Indian communities in the HK and Shanghai (mainly Sindhi and Gujarati). I don’t see why their descendants won’t be Chinese speaking, and maybe even serve as a bridge between Indian and Chinese cultures. I still prefer Indo-Chinese cuisine to pure Chinese, and most Indians will probably agree me!

            Cheers

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          3. Siddharthji

            The hub and spoke with English as hub is a working model, I will grant you that. But there’s a billion of us. No use in straightjacketing the trajectory of the entire mass into being the spokes of the single hub when there is plenty of quantity to have 50 million Indians fully immersible in the Mandarin Chinese world just like you and I are immersible in the English language web. We also, are about a similar number in the high tens of millions with a pan India presence. It appears huge, and you are correct that Indian English in itself is a self sustaining ecosystem. Nothing wrong in that. Just don’t see the point in carrying the “light” of this forward into deeper layers of Bharat.

            Graduate from wheel to neural network lol
            https://firebrandtalent.com/wp-content/uploads/Social-media-app-why-deep-linking-technology-is-so-importnant-wadamson.jpg

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          4. The movie opens with a quote by Napoleon Bonaparte: “China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes, she will move the world.” In the context of the scene that follows – the Youngs are refused entrance to a posh British hotel because of their race, so Eleanor decides to buy it out from under the management – the quote reads as a humorous, anodyne reminder not to make assumptions about wealth or status.

            https://international.thenewslens.com/article/102551

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      1. I love this very intelligent brown blog even though I am white central asian. And I lurrrvvveee Pakistanis and Immi bhai. True descendants of our great Turk khans.

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          1. As the Urdu adage goes: “farzand say nawasa pyaara”

            Afgh is our farzand, but Pak is our nawasa. We love what a handsome and able lad our nawasa has grown into. Pakistan is the future of Turkistan.

            Tur-e Turan Pakistan!

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  2. “Which brings me to the big issue about objections to Crazy Rich Asians: the critiques are reductive and simplistic, even if they utilize layered and verbose textures.”

    “Unless that is, you want to “represent” your nonexistent utopian vision?”

    Most communities see itself simultaneously as special as well as the victim. Forget Singapore, what you have written about the tamils is largely true in India as well.

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    1. Would you agree with me that people who see themselves as victims tend to be losers?

      Isn’t the Asian Miracle partly because Asians dislike victimology?

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          1. For the same reasons that Indians outearn natives in the US, and Chinese outearn Thais and Malays in Thailand and Malaysia. Under most modern sources of restricted immigration (where education and degrees get you in, not people being abducted as slaves), those who do immigrate often outearn those already there. The Indians in Singapore are mostly immigrants, and Singapore isn’t easy to immigrate to if you’re poor or uneducated.

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          2. @John Thacker:

            The Indians in Singapore are mostly immigrants

            No, I don’t believe that’s the case. Indians have been living “natively” as long or more than the Chinese have, though in fewer numbers.

            There are a lot of expatriate and immigrant Indians, who fit a similar profile to Indians immigrants and guest workers in the US, but I’d strongly doubt they outnumber Indian Singaporeans who have lived there for generations.

            Can you cite a source to prove your assertion?

            Chinese outearn Thais and Malays in Thailand and Malaysia

            There have been Chinese immigrants and settlers throughout SE Asia long before modern concepts like visas arose. They tended to be from traditional merchant classes, which tend to be prosperous because of their control over key sections of commercial activity coupled with strong in-group loyalty.

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          3. Numinous

            No, I don’t believe that’s the case. Indians have been living “natively” as long or more than the Chinese have, though in fewer numbers.

            I think Jaffna Tamils were the majority of multi generation “Indians” in Singapore.

            The Jaffna Tamils are predominantly large in number among the people who went to Singapore and Malaya in the 19th and early 20th centuries.[1] Ever since their arrival in Singapore, they were identifying themselves “Ceylonese”. They dominated the bureaucracy in Singapore as the British preferred employing the Ceylonese as bureaucrats in many of their Asian colonies. Ceylonese Tamils made up an overwhelming majority in the civil service of British Malaya and Singapore prior to independence

            According to Lee Kuan Yew
            In terms of numbers, the Ceylonese, like the Eurasians, are among the smallest of our various communities. Yet in terms of achievements and contributions to the growth and development of the modern Singapore and Malaysia they have done more than warranted by their numbers. In the early days of Malaysia’s and Singapore’s history the civil service and the professions were manned by a good number of Ceylonese. Even today the Ceylonese community continues to play a prominent role in these and other fields of civil life.

            For example in Singapore, today, the Speaker of Parliament is a Ceylonese. So is our High Commissioner in Great Britain. So is our Foreign Minister. In the Judiciary, in the civil service, in the university, in the medical Service and in the professions they continue to make substantial contributions out of all proportion to their numbers. They are there not because they are members of a minority community but on the basis of merit.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lankans_in_Singapore

            How the “Ceylon” Tamils From Sri Lanka Contributed to Singapore Over The Years
            http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/53976

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  3. I wonder how much of the obnoxious flaunting of wealth and privilege is due to asian americans being newly rich. Can’t imagine seasoned chinese elites of the kind amy chua talks about doing the same.

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    1. That’s the irony everyone is trying to earn the very same privilege that white liberals are trying to shed off..

      It’s the ultimately twist on social status; to be so privileged so as to want to lose it..

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  4. Tamils claim to be victims, while gaining economic and eventually political power. Somewhere between the Jews and Scots. Like the Jews and Scots, they are tight with money.

    Victim hood is claimed by upper caste/class in Jaffna, and point to the poorer segments of the population as examples. The upper class Jaffna are cosmopolitan in outlook. Most are all out of the country or run some of the biggest business in SL (eg Ken Balendran of John Keels Ltd). Sangeetha Thanapal seems to be the same stock. I’d take a reasonable bet that Sangeetha is of Jaffna Tamil origin.

    note: Most multi generational white collar “Indian” in Malaysia and Singapore are Jaffna Tamils. Jaffna Tamils were recruited by the Brits to fill admin positions in Malaysia. I would guess late 18th century.

    Samuel James V (SJV) Chelvanayagam (the father of Tamil Separatism ) was born in Malaysia.
    My paternal grandmothers brother (Issac Tambyah) was a successful lawyer in Penang and had a huge house, named England House. Apparently a French/European “secretary” was housed in the upper floor. Issacs wife was my grandfathers sister (called a cross marriage to save on dowry).

    Old Issac Tambyah was prolific writer. His wife Mangalanayagam was the first female author in Sri Lanka.

    What I like about the photos below. Change the dress and both would just fit into a photo of tea estate workers of Sri Lanka. They both dont look very impressive anyway.

    Issac and Mangalanayagam Tambyah
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/18K4iGdLfWpCzvLG8

    England House in Penang
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/GE4cQ7ukmWT86nNS7

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    1. Would like to add, Issac Tambyah looks like a small Jungle Bunny/Monkey in a suit in the photos.

      Issac Tambyah has written many books and few memoirs about the family. No mention of being discriminated in any of the books,

      https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&text=Issac+T.+Tambyah&search-alias=books&field-author=Issac+T.+Tambyah&sort=relevancerank

      https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1?ie=UTF8&text=Isaac+Tambyah&search-alias=books&field-author=Isaac+Tambyah&sort=relevancerank

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    2. What would be interesting is how much role does presence (or the lack of )religion has to do with Civil war. Would India (and the hindu right) would have invested more/less? Its similar to how Pakistan invested more in Kashmir and less in Punjab even though half of Pakistan is punjabi. In Bangladesh too India intervened, but that had much to do with a already hostile neighbor. Nothing similar existed with Sri Lanka. Dont know if there are research/books which looked into this aspect(religious) of the conflict.

      But with whatever few interaction with Sinhalese diaspora , i find it deeply fascinating that how much the tamils convinced the Sinhalese that they had “India’s back”. Considering India’s own love/hate relationship with its own tamils. I feel Rajiv Gandhi just didn’t think this through and saw it sort of cynical political play to get either of the tamilian political party in India on its side. But i think the damage has been done. We made an enemy out of a country. Its similar to how India helped the communist get power in Nepal due to the Govt ruling alliance at that time depending on Indian communist support and they wanted that.

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      1. few interaction with Sinhalese diaspora , i find it deeply fascinating that how much the tamils convinced the Sinhalese that they had “India’s back”.

        For the average Sinhalese, (80% rural) all Indians are Tamils, including Rajiv Gandhi. They dont need much convincing, historically most invasions were from India. The creation of the Tamil Kingdom is supposed to be by Magha of Kalinga.

        To quote
        “His reign saw the massive migration of native Sinhalese to the south and west of Sri Lanka, and into the mountainous interior, in a bid to escape his power. Magha was the last ruler to have his seat in the traditional northern seat of native power on the island, known as Rajarata; so comprehensive was his destruction of Sinhalese power in the north that all of the successor kingdoms to Rajarata existed primarily in the south of the island.”

        Also the recent (300-500 years ago) immigrant communities from South India are the most virulently anti Tamil and India. e.g. the Salagama and Karave community. The Sarath Fonseka the Army commander who won the war is from these communities.

        Think France/French and England/English.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalinga_Magha

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      2. What would be interesting is how much role does presence (or the lack of )religion has to do with Civil war. Would India (and the hindu right) would have invested more/less?

        What religion, Buddhism is quoted to justify the chosen people/country. Most Buddhist priests yap about Buddhist principles and generally build/maintain temples to the clean lines of the Greco-Buddhist tradition.

        That said many Buddhist Priests practice/sell, black magic, spells, shamanism etc invoking Hindu gods like Kali and pre Buddhist deities. Some Buddhist temples are also starting to have garish colored entrances. e.g. the ancient Dambulla Temple where the modern entrance is in stark contrast to the simple clean lines of the old Temple.

        Modern entrance, to Dambulla Temple. Would be perfectly at home in Thailand.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dambulla_cave_temple#/media/File:Dambulla_01.jpg

        The ancient temple (3-2 BC)
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dambulla_cave_temple#/media/File:Dambulla-outside.jpg

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dambulla_cave_temple

        Seenigama Devalaya: Devol Deviyo (note: Devol/Devil).
        But the popularity of Seenigama Devalaya is due to a more sinister reason. Devol Deviyo (like Suniyam Deviyo and Gatabaru Deviyo) is highly capable of placing curses on adversaries.
        The people who place curses do this at the small island away from the main land. In general people tell what kind of injustice someone has done to them and that they therefore request the god to invoke a punishment on them. This is done through grinding chilies on a special stone on the island while the curse is made.
        http://amazinglanka.com/wp/seenigama-devalaya/

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    3. +108. Excellent comment sbarrkum. Victimoloy, supremacy and privilege are mostly rackets. Although there is some truth to it.

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    4. Eh, a commonality to small successful immigrant elites. Those of Chinese descent are the “Jews” in Thailand, Malaysia, and elsewhere.

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  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDsoyyJn1jU

    Zach Hing has a very interesting take on Crazy Rich Asians.

    How afraid is everyone about the post modernists depicting Asians as hegemonic, imperialist, colonialist, prejudiced, bigoted, racist oppressors? Is fear of this why young Asians pretend to go along with the post modernist intelligentsia and caucasion intelligentsia?

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    1. Just because you don’t believe in “postmodernism” doesn’t mean you can speak for all other Asians. There are people who are concerned about issues of representation and privilege and they have a right to those concerns. Perhaps they have a more left-wing worldview than you. It is very patronizing to say that they are “going along with the Caucasian intelligentsia”

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      1. This is anecdotal. But most Asians I have met are terrified of being accused of being racist, sexist, bigoted, politically incorrect etc. There is an incredible fear of the caucasion global intelligentsia (it has a deep culture that is only partly post modernist; their are other aspects to it.) There is an incredible fear of being transparently religious or spiritual too among many Asians. This applies whether they are leftists, conservatives, moderates, or decline any labels. In practice there is almost no difference between self described leftists, conservatives, moderates etc. It is like being on different sides of the surface of the water.

        Most Asians engage in mass virtue signaling versus saying and doing what is right. Maybe it has long been this way? Whatever the cause, this is a major moral and character failing.

        Asian Americans in particular are on average far more socio economically successful than caucasions. Some teenage and undergraduate asian Americans (and Asian Europeans, Asian Canadians, Asian Australians, Asian Asians etc.) have internalized this to the point that they have a deep personal guilt and believe that their “Asian privilege” is deeply unearned, misbegotten and earned by oppressing or harming cuacasions, Latinos, Blacks. But I don’t find this much with Asians older than their early twenties.

        A growing trend among young Asians is to blame Asia for raping Africa and Africans. For example only 2.5% of South Africans are Indians. The vast majority (76.4%) are black. Yet in 2018 there are almost twice as many Indian millionaires as black millionaires. Similar statistics are true across the African continent. And they also hold for Chinese and other Asian ethnicities. They also hold across Latin America. And this is the scary part . . . they are starting (only very recently) to hold to a smaller degree across Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe. [Not the UK yet, thank God.]

        Another major problem is a growing percentage of the wealth of Africa, Latin America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and North America is starting to be owned by foreign nationals of Asian heritage.

        I recently got into a heated argument with a caucasion over the Asian rape of Africans in the African continent. I insisted that Africans benefited enormously by trade, transnational product development, and cross border investment with Asians; and that without it Africans would be far poorer and worse off. I got the sense that some caucasions thought I was some type of a fascist supporting the oppression of Africans by Asians.

        Kabir, it wasn’t like this when you were an undergraduate or even 5 years ago. This appears to be a very recent phenomenon. Caucasions increasingly feel free to blame rich Asians for the suffering of the world’s poor, lower middle class, and the world’s “minorities”. To be clear Asians are no longer considered “minorities” by many caucasions. [Another recent trend.]

        If you return to America today I think you will find the climate more hostile to Asians than when you left it.

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        1. I think “Caucasian intelligentsia” sounds like a conspiracy theory.

          Since I am much more left-wing then you, I probably won’t have the same issues you are having. I am a good center-left Humanities major and take issues of representation and privilege very seriously.

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  6. Kabir, I have noticed that young caucasions increasingly demonize Gandhiji as an anti African racist. They tie this into the Indian rape of South African blacks. This too is very recent. Not only is this inaccurate, it is positively dangerous. In the UK some young caucasions are now calling for the bust of Gandhiji to be removed from Parliament Square.

    What would you call this? Caucasion intelligentsia? Post modernist intelligentsia? Some other name?

    Two of my favorite intellectuals–Glenn Loury and John McWhorter–speak of the “white intelligentsia.” Many black Americans speak of it and fear it.

    Have you seen the sheer contempt and fear with which Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates looks at the large crowds of caucasion sycophantic “followers” that come to see him? In this I get Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates and empathize with him completely. These are the oppressors he is talking about. Most of his “followers” and “supporters” are the oppressors he is talking about. One wrong word or turn and his “followers” and “supporters” will tear him apart piece by piece. The danger isn’t other blacks, it is the caucasion intelligentsia.

    Glenn Loury and John McWhorter have on several occasions discussed the contempt and disgust with which Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates looks at the large caucasion crowds that come to see him. I get the feeling Glenn Loury and John McWhorter might empathize with Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates on this. [They disagree with Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates on many policy issues.]

    To add insult to injury these caucasions insist they are trying to help the people they harm most.

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    1. Gandhi was a racist. You only have to read his own words and look at his own actions to realize this fact. What else justified arguing that Indians were different than Africans and should be allowed to ride in the same railway carriages as the English while Africans should not be?

      Not only was he racist, but he was also deeply casteist. I read Arundhati Roy’s “The Doctor and the Saint” and was forever disillusioned about Gandhi.

      This doesn’t de-legitimize his nationalist struggle against the British, but he had some very problematic ideas.

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      1. Gandhi was a racist.

        When he lived in South Africa, yes. But the guy (and his views) changed over the course of his lifetime. He landed in SA as a recently trained lawyer and took up the burden of being an advocate for the downtrodden Indian community. So think of his speeches and arguments at that time as lawyers’ arguments. They were designed to appeal to the (much more rabidly) racist whites. I can only imagine what would have happened to him if he had tried to form an alliance with the Zulus in opposition to the Europeans.

        You should see his actions during the Indian satyagraha in the same light. They were designed to be as inclusive as possible (hence the advocacy of Khilafat) and as effective as possible, regardless of whether the tactics hewed to any particular set of principles. Except the firm insistence on non-violence though; which arguably was also a practical measure because he knew that the British, regardless of their low numbers, would always be better at organized use of violence.

        Not only was he racist, but he was also deeply casteist.

        He didn’t support an immediate and total destruction of the caste system, which I agree made him a casteist, but that was because he believed that such a course of action would result not just in the annihilation of caste but of Hinduism itself. He was a gradualist, and wanted to go slow. Hence his exhortation to upper castes, temples, etc. to accept “untouchables” unconditionally; the theory being that gradual intermingling and acceptance would reduce the salience of caste in the long term without losing what was good about Hinduism. Of course, that would have been cold comfort to people like Ambedkar!

        Muslims who would argue for a gradual reform of Islam rather than launch a full frontal attack on the “problematic” teachings of the Koran also open themselves to the charge of being racist and sexist, among other things. Would they be more effective or would the radicals? You decide.

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        1. There was no reason to bring in Islam in your comment. It was totally gratuitous. We are not talking about books that are considered to be divinely revealed scripture.

          On Gandhi, a reading of Roy’s “The Doctor and the Saint” makes it very clear that Gandhi is not the hero that some people make him out to be. Calling “untouchables” Harijans didn’t do much to address the actual issues. Gandhi threatened go on a fast when Dr. Ambedkar wanted to get separate electorates for the Dalits. He didn’t want Dalits to be treated separately from caste Hindus as it wouldn’t have suited his politics. We should admire Gandhi for leading the struggle against the British through civil disobedience but that doesn’t wash away the problematic aspects of his ideology. “Ram Rajya” was something that was really going to alienate Muslims, as Quaid-e-Azam noted.

          I only responded to Anan’s point that “young Caucasians demonize Gandhi as a racist” to say that considered from our current day standards, he was a racist. The things he said about Africans are not acceptable in 2018. I wouldn’t go so far as to remove his statues, but it isn’t only “young Caucasians” that don’t idolize him as some people would prefer.

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          1. We are not talking about books that are considered to be divinely revealed scripture.

            as you know a large % of people don’t give a shit about this. you do, and you keep bringing it up. but again, no one gives a shit.

            yes, gandhi was a racist by any account. though most people from that, including black people like w. e. dubois, would be accounted so.

            contra anan, i also see no great evidence that most people are aware of gandhi’s early 20th century racism.

            also, arundhati roy is a great fiction writer. that should tell you how much name-dropping her like you did again convinces people when it comes to matters of fact.

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          2. Islam was not germane to a discussion of Gandhi’s racism in any case.

            Roy is an activist as well as a novelist. “The Doctor and The Saint” is a work of non-fiction.

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    2. the words “Indian rape of South African blacks” brought a flood of funny images in my mind, the most prominent being a a lengti-wearing (loincloth) Indian trying to rape a Zulu maiden!

      Anan, you are simply precious. I want to say a lot of things at you but you are such a nice guy that I cannot. However, “Indian rape of South African blacks” was simply too good to pass.

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      1. Shafiq you are wickedly smart and I learn a lot from your comments. Please let me know what you think. I won’t be offended. The exact opposite in fact. 🙂

        In South Africa some popular politicians (including Malema) openly criticize Indians and caucasions, threaten violence, and talk about confiscating Indian and caucasion property without compensation.

        Here is an article by a post modernist Indian South African female, Aaisha Dadi Patel:
        https://mg.co.za/article/2017-08-02-malema-might-have-a-point-about-south-african-indian-people

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  7. sbarrkum
    +108 again

    Your many perceptive observant comments add wisdom and knowledge to the universe.

    Numinous, liked your comments too. Every human being is racist except for self actualized enlightened humans such as Jesus, Moses, Mohammed May Peace be upon Him, Buddha, Ali, Fatima, Hassan, Hussein, Garib Nawaz, Hazrat Nizamuddin, Bahá’u’lláh etc. The total number of self actualized humans is a lot less than one in a thousand. The only way to not be racist is to improve and transform ourselves; this is also called spirituality or religion. For the vast majority of people this is very difficult.

    Racism is a symptom and can’t be addressed on its own. If we become more loving, compassionate and warm; if we melt our own hearts the symptoms take care of themselves. For this reason humanity should not focus on racism but focus on melting our hearts. This is also heavily correlated with sharply improved physical health, mental health (Chitta Shuddhi in Sanskrit) and intelligence (Buddhi in Sanskrit). Please see the works of Stanford’s Dr. James R. Doty (Clinical Professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University and founder and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, an affiliate of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute.)

    As Numinous said, Gandhiji improved and evolved himself over his life time as all of us should do. Early in Gandhi’s life there wasn’t a sense of trans African identity in South Africa. Many of the Bushmen prefered the Europeans to the Zulu who had invaded, occupied and conquered them. There were many different ethnic groups of Blacks (or black nations) in South Africa. The concept of a unified trans African South African black came in the 1900s.

    In the early 1990s there were major violent clashes between the Zulu and Nelson Mandela’s ANC. To the point that Mandela described the Zulu violent threat as more dangerous than the Afrikaner threat.

    If you google search you can find hundreds of hit articles written by post modernist hacks viciously attacking Nelson Mandela for reasons similar to why Gandhiji, Lincoln, Washington, Jesus, Mohammed pbuh, Buddha (by Ken Wilber), Krishna, Ramakrishna, Moses, Fatimah, Ali, Hassan, Hussein, John the Baptist, David, Solomon etc. are attacked.

    Wherever there is love and light . . . the forces of darkness congregate and try to destroy. This is why the greatest and most loving human beings tend to be the most vilified and hated. They tend to be described as “evil” by large masses of people.

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  8. The hypocrisy of Indians complaining about Chinese privilege bothers me a lot.
    The way Indians treat native Southeast Asians in the “Northeastern states” is well known and has very few parallels in democratic countries. Singapore is several order of magnitude more generous toward them than they are toward Southeast Asians.

    Even if the title was “Crazy Rich East Asians”, Koreans and Japanese could complain about the same misrepresentation(but probably wouldn’t because they are grown-ups). The same with “Crazy Rich Chinese”- there are some Chinese who may feel they are not represented here. Indian complaints are rather silly, childish and fractious.

    And I do not see Southeast Asians(of the Northeastern States) fairly represented in Bollywood either. Do these whiners at least pay lip-services to the discrimination of these people by Indians? I think Indians whine too much.

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    1. i pretty much agree with this. the indian racism toward northeast indians is well known, and i’ve seen/heard ‘soft’ forms of this myself.

      the key difference though is that china/chinese are going to be much more powerful than india/indians will be in the 21st century.

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      1. i pretty much agree with this. the indian racism toward northeast indians is well known

        Yes, this is true. You definitely notice this in places like Delhi.

        Perhaps as a reaction to this, northeasterners sometimes also express racist attitudes towards other Indians who visit their states. My friends got a taste of this in Sikkim a couple of decades ago; they were called “kaale log” (black people) and were the target of lewd jokes.

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        1. There has been increasing assimilation and migration of late. Till even a decade back, in a lot of parts of India, the most you’d come across a north-easterner would be a Nepali watchman.

          But they’ve started entering other industries (especially hospitality) now. There are also a significant number of them in public universities thanks to tribal quotas. Not to mention sports and music. Shillong is the centre of Indian blues music.

          So yeah, things are getting quite better.

          On Shillong blues, here’s a song you might enjoy:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIvXtm8GWMY

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        2. It is both a reaction and not a reaction. There’s a saying that every fox is a lion in its own den. The issues of northeast folks in the major Indian metros is highlighted because it is a numbers game. There is an economic and opportunity disparity between the northeast and mainland. So there are more folks from Mizoram earning their bread in Gujarat than vice versa.

          There are still some legacy mainland populations in the northeastern states that are legacy of colonial times, like the Punjabi Sikhs that were recently on the end of violence from the locals of Meghalaya.

          https://indianexpress.com/article/north-east-india/meghalaya/shillong-violence-meghalaya-khasi-punjabi-clash-conrad-sangma-police-curfew-5202012/

          At the end of the day, until the northeast develops, the only prejudice you’ll see from the northeast is directed at tourists. The seriousness of things always increase when the recipient of the hostility isn’t a tourist but rather a long term settled economic migrant. A good amount of the ire in Assam against the Bangladeshis is racially derived.

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    2. East Asian Man

      One Indian that’s hired to write hit pieces for the liberal rag guardian is whining. She has as much weight as most of Indians on here that are in the non whining camp. Particularly Indian Americans and other south Asian Americans, we know very well that Asian in the US context means East and southeast Asians, not south Asians (although on census we are).

      Bollywood is in its own world for the most part, but yes it was despicable that the movie Mary Kom used Priyanka Chopra to play her.

      Btw people of “northeast” are locals to their area for centuries if not millennia. I wouldn’t put their experiences in same boat as Indian diaspora in east and southeast Asia.

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    3. ” I think Indians whine too much.”

      Well the post talks about people of Sub continental origin whining about them not being represented. I dont understand what Indians have to with it. Indians do whine but not on these stuff. If Indian origin folks in S-Africa / West Indies start whining about some stuff its not necessarily Indians whining.

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  9. Islam was not germane to a discussion of Gandhi’s racism in any case.

    you flip out when people make an analogy to islam. it’s not the ONLY choice someone can make, but it’s one that i assume people think will be salient and informative to you. not everyone who engages with you by making analogies with islam is a hindu nationalism (numinous is not).

    Roy is an activist as well as a novelist. “The Doctor and The Saint” is a work of non-fiction.

    yes, that’s the problem. all scholars have bias, but she makes no pretense to work within a positivist tradition. she’s an activist MORE than a scholar. if you cite her, you will convince those who already agree with you. that’s fine if that’s what you want, but the people you are speaking with don’t agree with you always.

    you gain as much or more traction just offering your own analysis, than someone who is perceived to be highly comitted to a particular viewpoint.

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    1. I am not “flipping out” nor did I call Numinous a Hindu nationalist. I am simply pointing out that it was totally unnecessary to bring Islam into this particular discussion. Would he have done so if I did not come from a Muslim background? It is almost offensive that people feel like I can only understand Islamic analogies. There are times when Islam is relevant to the topic at hand and times when it has nothing to do with it. This is one of the latter cases.

      Roy’s book has footnotes. She has cited all the facts about Gandhi’s racism. I am not an expert on this topic and therefore I have no original analysis to offer. People are free to accept or reject Roy as they wish.

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  10. Would he have done so if I did not come from a Muslim background? It is almost offensive that people feel like I can only understand Islamic analogies.

    1) that’s true.

    2) but why is it offensive if islam is a major part of someone’s identity? analogies only work when there are common currencies of cultural understanding. you are american, and numinous is not (though i believe he/she spent a fair amount of time in america). so they are probably not comfortable going there.

    3) but you also seem to really care about islam, though you’ve said in other cases you aren’t too observant (honestly, i don’t care, but don’t expect others to keep track of you). so i see how people would try to relate to you this way. repeatedly people have made analogies to islam in the comments and you’ve gotten angry. but you also put yourself up to defend islam, so then people think you are more islamic than you really are.

    i make analogies to historical and cultural things all the time that people don’t get. i do it to be a smartass, not because i’m trying to get something across to people. they don’t get the allusion to sullan reaction or kangxi’s uprightness.

    you repeatedly get angry at people for communicating to you in the way they want to communicate to you. the solution is perhaps you stop commenting then because no one communicates to you in the way you want to communicate.

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    1. I am not angry at all. I don’t know what gave you that impression. I am simply pointing out that in this particular discussion, Islam is not germane. People are free to discuss it in contexts where it actually makes sense. I personally am a very secular person and I find discussion of the faith I was born into to not be very intellectually interesting. But that is only my preference. I do feel that people have a tendency to bring Islam up unnecessarily on this forum (and usually to attack it) but I am capable of ignoring bigoted comments.

      As for telling me to stop commenting, I will continue to comment as long as I feel that it is worth my time. It is no one’s place to tell me to shut up. I’m usually OK with any communication as long as it is not condescending or ignorant.

      Let’s end this discussion here.

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  11. Roy’s book has footnotes. She has cited all the facts about Gandhi’s racism. I am not an expert on this topic and therefore I have no original analysis to offer. People are free to accept or reject Roy as they wish.

    gandhi’s writings don’t require intermediary exegesis to smoke out what’s offensive to modern sensibilities. they’re right there in plain english.

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    1. Fine, but since Roy has gone to the trouble of publishing a book on the topic, I think it makes sense to just provide a reference to that.

      I’m not personally very invested in this topic and only responded because Anan was shocked that “young Caucasians” would call Gandhi racist. My limited point was that based on his own actions and words, it is clear that he was racist, at least according to 21st century criteria.

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