Wild natives and the white Man’s burden

I was hearing a few stories about the ivory towers of academia and some of the micro-aggressions on display was just shocking. Two that immediately come to mind are:

(1.) there was a particularly famous Desi academic who was holding court in one of the colleges. Many desis came to pay homage to him prompting one (white) academic to sniff to another, “it feels like a Delhi saloon bar here.” This was in full hearing of the coloured academics.

(2.) a particularly (in)famous colonial administrator had visited a college in the 50’s and noting the wild behaviour of the undergraduates, joked “I thought the natives came only in shades of brown.” The implication being that the undergraduates were acting like careless natives in the sun. This is an oft-repeated and humorous joke in certain rarefied circles.

I was livid when I heard this but it prompts me to reflect that regardless of the stress on equality and fairness; the elite churn only enough to preserve their power structure.

What makes micro-aggression so powerful of course is that it is the aggressed who feels trapped. How does one respond since the Model Minority Asian is far too busy assimilation/integrating/succeeding and doesn’t want to cause a fuss. It’s all well and good having a rant on Twitter or a blog but it’s not very likely that a #metoo movement is going to emerge vis a vis micro aggression.

Another interesting observation is that Asians are particularly vulnerable to micro-aggressions because we are a longer-term delayed gratification sort of population; we are looking at that promotion, salary raise to ever truly want to make a commotion.

The art of pushing back banterously without escalating the matter too much should be taught in all citizenship classes..

After the jump my own short thoughts on the staying power of elites.

Some time back I rifled through Orhan Pamuk’s autobiography where he recounted his early childhood in Istanbul (just off Taksim Square in what is now it’s most prominent district) and his squabbling Ottomanish relatives. What is interesting is that even though OP’s paternal family is no longer prominent in the Republic (his mother was of Circassian ancestry from what I remember to general bemusement of his father’s side); he is probably Turkey’s most famous novelist.

Elites are nebulous and immortal constructs; the same upper crust surnames survive in Oxbridge. A young postgraduate at my wife’s colleges who I had clocked as Jewish turned out to be Boston Brahmin (the surname is a dead giveaway).

Of course being a member of an elite also carries with it a “historical memory.” If one knows that they have aristocratic antecedents, there is a sub-conscious lift towards emulating the greats. A good friend of mine discovered very recently that his deceased grandmother was the closest descendant of Mungo the Explorer; it’s now become part of his family lore.

45 thoughts on “Wild natives and the white Man’s burden”

  1. Zachary, to live life is to experience micro aggression. We need to be unaffected by them as Jesus, Mohammed pbuh, Bahá’u’lláh, Báb and Imam Ali were. This is the beginning of religion, faith, spirituality, temperance, values, culture, love, or whatever else someone wants to call it.

    In general I greatly respect the right of others to not like me, think I am stupid, be racist toward me, be bigoted toward me, be sectarian toward me, etc. This is the meaning of respecting freedom of art, thought, intuition and feeling. And I would rather know what others are thinking than not know.

    I don’t like fake virtue signaling.

    The reason I responded to Kabir is because I didn’t want any Afghans, Turan, Iranians reading to think anyone else from Brown Pundits shared those views. In this

      1. “When you avoid conflict to restore peace outside you start the war within yourself.”
        Zach, this is fake virtue signaling. This slowly eats away and destroys people.

        Rather we really should be unaffected. What other people think about us and do to us is their business. What we think and do is our business. This is part of what self actualization and self enlightenment is.

        Jesus was nailed to cross yet unaffected was He. Jesus went into the deepest meditation or deepest samadhi or deepest nirvana or deepest satori or deepest Shunya while on the cross. Pain couldn’t affect him. Fame and false infamy had no affect on him. Jesus was Jesus. I am I. Nothing to do. Nothing to be. No cause. No goal. No game.

    1. I only represent myself, though (most) Pakistanis dislike Afghans because they are not grateful for what we have done for them. Afghanistan is on India’s side and not on Pakistan’s. You think Pakistanis are going to be happy about that? We cannot let our enemy surround us on both sides. If the Afghans want to ally with a Hindu country rather than with their Sunni Muslim brothers, it’s their choice. But we will act to protect ourselves. That’s how geopolitics works.

      Iranians are cool. I have nothing against them.

      It’s perhaps best if you neither speak to me nor about me. Cheers

  2. I have spent 8 years in USA in academia, me a brown Muslim with a big Mohammad as a first name. I have never experienced microaggression in the academic environment, on the other hand I have experienced over-politeness, over-deference many a times. I know black, African students have experienced microaggreesion and macro agrression a lot of times, but I seldom hear about Asians, almost none. On the other hand Asians, particularly the Chinese, behave quire insensitively towards other people quite regularly.

    The first episode about Delhi Saloon bar is almost unthinkable. The biggest microaggression against South Asian academics who come to universities that I see is sometimes during their talks, as they ramble and digress as usual, people who invited them sometimes intervene to bring the dscussion back on course.

      1. Is it that English are condescending, pretentious, patronizing about how English caucasions oppress others and feel the need to help those they oppress? That is horrible. What is worse is the implication that the “oppressed” aren’t potentially powerful and wise enough not to be harmed by the oppression of caucasion Englishmen. This colonization of the mind to damage self confidence of and cause inferiority complex in “darkies” is the worst bigotry, racism, sectarianism, sophistry of all.

    1. May I ask how to recognize microaggression. I admit this is the first time I noticed this expression. Appreciate if provided with one or two examples and how it is different from macroaggression. Thanks in advance.

      1. That’s a good question – it’s difficult to define but it’s one of the invisible barriers to flowing upward the hierarchy

        1. Saying that America is a “land of opportunity” is a micro-aggression.

          I will go much further. The world has become flat. Much of the world is now a “land of opportunity”. Does that count as a macro-aggression?

          Other examples of micro-aggressions:
          When I look at you, I don’t see color,” “There is only one race, the human race,” and “America is a melting pot.”

          It is also a microaggression to say that “the most qualified person should get the job” or to express doubts about the effectiveness of Affirmative Action programs, the website claims. Moreover, to say that “America is the land of opportunity” propagates the “myth of meritocracy,” as do statements such as “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough.” {I think that most everyone can succeed in a majority of the world}

        2. Thanks for providing an introduction to microaggression. Reminds me of glass ceiling before. There is microaggression towards desis in the U.S. is my understanding.

      2. Microaggressions are hidden prejudices and judgement in what appear to be innocuous actions or statements, like assuming a visible minority has bad English. It doesn’t sound too bad at first and people will try to convince you that there’s no need to be concerned about them, but it’s these kind of judgements we make in the back of our heads which lead to Harvard scoring Asians lower in personality in their admissions because all Asians are apparently anti-social and hard to get along with.

        1. Basically to control microaggression we need to put our thoughts and words under a microscope and scan for minuscule micro-offences that can spread and cause full-blown microaggression. To prevent the spread of such micro-offences, it is recommended we wash our brains regularly, especially before public expression of our views so as to prevent thought contamination.

          People could only get brain-washed at home in the olden days, but the washing wasn’t efficient enough and micro-offence infestations were common. Now unis provide such facilities where washing brains is quite quick and easy and young people, who are quite vulnerable to micro-offences, can get regular inoculation via mass-delivery systems like social media to keep their brains sparkling clean.

          In addition to regular brain-washing and inoculation drives, safe spaces to sequester the vulnerable can also be provided if a micro-aggression pandemic breaks out.

          1. Good habit to get one’s brain washed regularly. Next only to washing one’s arse, that is, so that one can say intelligent things out of it. Bit of an art I suppose, which some artful souls on this forum possess in dollops. Ya Allah, I feel so envious. I can only manage the occasional fart out of mine by way of meaningful air efflux.

  3. I agree with Shafiq. I have almost never see any non post modernist caucasions (conservative, moderate, liberal or left) engage in micro aggressions against anyone in any context in the US.

    Sadly Asian Americans and to a lesser degree Latino Americans aren’t as good at avoiding micro aggressions against others 🙂 {Although to be honest they are pretty good at avoiding micro aggressions too.}

    In general America is way, way too virtue signaling, politically correct and fake to a fault. America is badly in need of some more authenticity and honesty.

  4. There are interesting things in this article and in the subsequent comments. However, I would like to look at this from a different perspective and present some different facets.

    I would suggest to open discussion about South Asia’s recent colonial past. This is one of areas which is hidden from critical evaluations and the real truth is still unknown except to few thinking people. It is not strange that much further ancient past is hidden by powerful forces and thousands of years of histories are stolen or falsified. That is the case with British colonial rule in India. They conducted terrible crimes and genocides. Some people who witnessed this are still alive. One account says that during 185 years British killed and starved about 85 millions of people.

    British never apologized for their past deeds in India and many other parts of the world. The most of ordinary people in England are not aware of their dark past, they do not learn this in their schools, historians hide evidence and provide rationale for their rasist policies.The fact is that many people from South Asia live in UK which became their new homeland. Many achieved great careers as professionals, bureaucrats or university professors. However, the shadow of the past will remain and will become much darker.

    I believe that it is one thing which will make more and more pressure on people’s from India’s subcontinent conscience. One can be locked in his/her microenvironment, career, promotions, pay rises, ivory towers. But, how to talk about self-actualizations, contemplations, spiritual things, knowing that everything is founded on lies and that the debt to ancestors has not been repaid.

    To open this discussion requires a great courage from everyone, from those who administer this site and from individual commentators. Colonial watchdogs do not sleep, their job is to prevent such attempt and discredit those who ask for truth and justice. Some possible reactions to this proposition could be – this is true but it was long time ago, let’s forget and take care about daily living or – they should formally apologize indeed and someone should initiate this action but I am scared to participate or – if someone starts this, let’s call it reconciliation process, I will join and rise my voice or – let start this process, it will be a long journey we should start it and have clear account before our ancestors and descendants and before own conscience.

    I think, that administrators should decide – to start this process or remain in own conformism, take care about own career, make some business out of such technological advent, wait for someone else to do hard things and remain in a shallow water and shallow topics without touching the essence. They, or someone appointed by them, could make an introductory article to start discussion. It would be better that someone from this background initiate this but I am also ready, as an outsider in this case (but not in the other), to make some lines and kick off this discussion which should start sooner rather than later. Thanks.

    1. Razib, can you please pass again my email to AnAn. And, also, please make a comment on my initiative above.

      Anan, it took me some time to read some previous links. Considering that I am here only for a couple weeks, I need to read some previous articles. What a disappointment while reading what Rajiv Malhotra said in British Parliament. I was thinking that he is one of great contemporary Indian thinkers. What obedience to former masters. Understandably, because he was chosen to make a speech and not someone else who would be making waves. And he asks Brits to help him fighting Aryan theories? Unbelievable, I think that Brits are laughing to his naivety. This is not a political campaign, this is a science, a historical fact which must be confirmed or negated. I have already noticed his Infinity Foundation and ‘panels’ of people who think the same. They try to stop any discussion about Aryans quoting that it was proved that invasion/migration did not exist. And they endlessly continue to prove what they said that was 100% already proved. And ‘process innovation’? Wow!

      Why he did not mentioned 85 millions killed Indians? Maybe he thinks, considering that he is an IT guy, when compared with today’s 1.5 bilion it can be mathematically neglected? I think that India, although is an old civilization, is still immature as a nation. I would like to find that I am wrong. Sooner rather than later, someone will ask Brits for apology. After that, this thing will not go away until this happens. It can last for long time but one day, maybe king George (Charles? nop! Will? maybe) will make such apology. For me is amazing how little you know about English. And RM asks for a memorial for Indian dead soldiers in ww1? What a paradox, to get killed for a colonial masters fighting for them to conquer new colonies and 100 years later an India’s thinker is paying them respect in colonial Parliament? Why he did not quote Churchill and his statement about Indians. Anyone knows? And so on and on…

      Btw, a propos asking Brits to help him fighting AITs, it would be better to check their old colonial maps with original toponyms. Just this morning, I found, for example, one name – Dunavada (a Village in Harij Taluka in Patan District of Gujarat State). What does it mean? Dunav is Danube, Ada is a river island in Serbian language. There is also a place in Serbia with the same name. How this name got there? There are also some other names nearby. It seems that I will not get answer about Baluchistan. Cheers.

  5. Zack,
    I think too much is made of “microaggressions”. This is a 21st century concept where If I don’t like what you say, I accuse you of “microaggression”, without perhaps reflecting that maybe there are some things that Western culture does better. It goes along with “trigger warnings” which are also frankly stupid.

    On Pamuk, he grew up in Beyoglu which is definitely one of the most fashionable parts of Istanbul. My brother and I visited Istanbul for a few days a couple years back (we were taking Turkish Airlines from Lahore to DC) and stayed in a cute hotel in Karakoy.

    1. I think it’s still very pertinent.

      I heard a wonderful exposition on white (substitute male etc) privilege; “privilege doesn’t mean things aren’t difficult if you are white but what it does mean that things will never be difficult because you are white.”

      I see the invisible hand of privilege go hand in hand with micro aggression.

      I don’t understand why BP spends all its time on incessant Indo-PAk instead of advancing or collective interests (which is create a more level playing ground).

      1. I agree. White Privilege is a thing as is structural inequality.

        But what do I know, I’m just a performing artist. As I’m reminded constantly on this forum, I don’t have a STEM degree.

        As for the incessant Indo-Pak, that, along with caste, seems to be what the readers want. If you change the topics you write about, perhaps you will get a different response.

          1. No offense, but I would never marry a Stemmie. Every time they opened their mouths, I would want them to shut up. I tried to date some computer science people and some medical types. I was bored out of my mind.

            I can only have relationships with artists, writers, academics in humanities fields, journalists and maybe lawyers. A lawyer would be good. They can make the money and I can sing 🙂 My plan B is to become an academic though.

          2. “That is a poor listener”– not really, I just found their topics of conversation extremely boring.

            If someone can’t speak intelligently about Art and Music, I lose interest in them pretty fast.

      2. Maybe microaggression only wounds us when it comes from people we want approval from, or people who have influence over people we want approval from. Being brown and trying to make it in a white world has these hazards I guess. Though white people have their own angst, in their own society there is the fear of being a nobody. It sucks to be different than everybody and sucks to be the same.

  6. // the elite churn only enough to preserve on power. //

    That’s the whole point of the ‘Academic’ churn. To churn about power, for the power, by the power to justify the power of Elites {Politicians & Academicians}.

    George Orwell – Politics and English Language

    Modern examples of manipulative language by an anthropologist –
    Profile of author – http://pages.ucsd.edu/~dkjordan/index.html
    Examples –

    Just a thought –
    As Religion is the opium of the masses similarly democracy & equality are mirages for the masses, While the terms change but situation more or less remains the same {In the hands of elites}.
    Fb post 19 March 2018 – https://www.facebook.com/deep.bhatnagar/posts/2052671644747909

    Egalitarian Fantasy & Argue about nothing –
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxRgaNb7Rr4 – Arguing Over Nothing

    Buzzwords, elite motives & so call Philanthropy –

    This =/= That –

    I have heard the following statement far too many times i.e. Edmund Burke “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Those who know history are doomed to repeat it too -_- My 2 cents.
    Reason – Since they will become elites {elites would likely want to remain in power} thus with better understanding of social functioning they will create & implement policies in the following manner – They will use the Historical contexts to create troubles via policies & use Orwellian language in present contexts and scenarios to create hope for a brighter future & the process will keep going on & on & on……. In the name of Humanity, Post-truth.
    Fb post 25 December 2016 – https://www.facebook.com/deep.bhatnagar/posts/1537531409595271

    The best novel describing modern world- Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

    Way to survive – Be narcissistic & lol the world. Nothing will change nothing will improve.

      1. basically, it’s about feeling.

        if i type muhammed without the honorific i’ve microgressed you.

        a lot of your posts strike people as being classist or soft-racist to a lot of people here.

        blah, blah, blah.

        i think microgression is bullshit. the sign of a civilization in decay.

        1. I wouldn’t use “microaggression” for you not calling the Prophet of God by his full title. I just think it shows a lack of basic human decency and respect. But if that’s the impression you want to give off, go for it. I have a cousin named Muhammad. It’s perfectly OK to take his name like that, but in the case of the Prophet of God, one needs to show respect.

          I agree with you that “microaggression” is a stupid concept.

          1. one needs to show respect.

            no, islam doesn’t need any respect from me or anyone else on this forum. if you have a problem with that you can repeat yourself ad nauseum. won’t change anything. we’ve been over this.

            you’ve said plenty of indecent things on this forum about lots of groups so when you pull this shit people want to tell you to fuck off, as they often do. your demand for grace and civility would be more credible if you exhibited it yourself, or some level of ‘christ-like’ charity. any respect i give to islam isn’t to islam, since it’s a made up ideology. it’s the people who adhere to it. so the respect is to you (or not).

            you don’t. so you aren’t given it.

          2. That’s fine. It shows your lack of class. Practicing Muslims are not going to like you very much, but it’s your life.

    1. lol, ‘microagression’ the convenient term with no proper meaning just like Subaltern, Caste, Truth & so on.

      Like for most people –
      Justice is about treating people equally but the whole modern Justice system is formulated to be a ‘Distributive Justice’ or ‘Social Justice’ i.e. the more the people are perceived to be oppressed the greater leniency they will have from Justice system.


      This also again goes back to the problem i always mention – ‘Informer & Informed’.

  7. Microaggression is a sign of weakness actually. It is the way of the lily-livered, whiny, petulant little shit. It is sad to see the English reduced to such girly stuff. Nelson, Wellington, Richard, Aelfred etc are turning in their graves right now.

    Whities have by and large forgotten the ways of their warlike Germanic ancestors. Whither Vikings, whither Vandals? For them it’s gypsy kings and stiletto sandals these days.

    Look at Norwegians for example. They were the hammer of Northern Europe. Their descendants founded lyubimaya Rossiya and even subdued my Tatar precursors. Their spawn created the Norman militia of W Europe, whose famous son Richard Coeur de Lion had Saracen sausages for petit dejeuner during the Crusades. Worthy opponents of the Ummah by all measures. Go to Oslo and you encounter these bloody tree-hugging hipsters who throw up at the sight of dead reindeer and more interested in Eurotrash pop songs.

    Look at Coeur de Lion’s current spawn in Windsor. They are a joke truth be told. More adept in pageantry than puissance, verbal jabs than jousts. I’m almost disgusted at their PCness sometimes, even as a soldier of the Ummah. The Taliban threatened Harry (when he was serving in Afghanistan) and he took refuge among the Hindu Kuffar mercenary Gurkhas. The flag bearer of Normans, who went to fierce battle with dieu et mon droit emblazoned on their shields, taking refuge like a sissy among hired mercenaries who aren’t even Al Kitab. WTF??

    These Whity Western Europeans shit their pants at the mere mention of Rossiya or Islam, get their knickers in a twist about people who actually do show some guts like American RW and then parade their cowardice by taking petty pot shots at even more cowardly Indian Kuffar in rarefied academic circles. Emetic!

    1. He was working in an Islamic country and he said nasty things about Islam (I have no idea what exactly he said nor do I care). Getting fired is the least he should have expected. In some countries, he would have been hauled up on a blasphemy charge. The United Arab Emirates is not a secular Western state.

  8. Mohammed pbuh neither needed nor requested respect from anyone. When Mohammed pbuh was alive there were was no Islam. “Islam” formed after Mohammed pbuh passed away and is disconnected from Mohammed pbuh.

    “no, islam doesn’t need any respect from me or anyone else on this forum” To me this appears consistent with Mohammed pbuh.

    “any respect i give to islam isn’t to islam, since it’s a made up ideology. it’s the people who adhere to it. so the respect is to you (or not).”
    Agreed. Respect is to muslims rather than to “Islam”.

    In some ways Mohammed pbuh reminds me of Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates–who for all my disagreements with him on policy is someone I personally empathize with. I so relate with the way Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates looks with contempt and disgust as his caucasion sycophantic condescending pretentious patronizing irritating stupid, holier than thou, “followers”. How can he feel otherwise?

    Now just imagine the way Mohammed pbuh must have looked at his “followers” when he was alive. Now imagine Mohammed pbuh’s reaction to today’s conservative or soft Islamist proselytizing muslims [who make his “followers” look like saints]. Poor Mohammed pbuh has my sympathies 🙁 To be associated with this crowd!

    1. Please refrain from commenting on the Prophet of God (peace be upon him). You lack even the basic qualifications to do so. Go back to the Mahabharata. You will find yourself more comfortable there and you will also not piss Muslims off.
      If Islam is a “made up ideology” as Mr. Khan says, so is “Sanatana Dharma”. The Mahabharata is a work of literary fiction (not even a particularly good one–the Greeks did epics much better. Give me the Iliad and the Odyssey over the Ramayana and the Mahabharata any day).

  9. “White Privilege is a thing as is structural inequality.”

    Neither are things as most people understand these phrases. Asian Americans massively outperform caucasions by every socio economic measure there are statistics for with one glaring exception. Global society regards caucasion males to be hotter than Asian males. Asian females (not just Vidhi) are plenty hot and don’t have this problem. Honestly this isn’t the biggest problem in the world to have.

    Structural inequality in functional societies (increasingly a larger part of the world) mostly comes from the following things:
    1) physical health
    2) mental health (Chitta Shuddhi)
    3) intelligence (Buddhi)
    4) good company (this is less important than the first three and mostly works because of how good company enhances the first three)

    The rest of “structural inequality” fades into insignificance by comparison, including the wealth of one’s parents.

    A challenge to you Kabir. Please find one statistical or econometric study that finds a significant gap in income between black Americans and non black Americans (Latino or caucasion; take your pick) when adjusted for academic performance.

    I have heard of some new studies that find that Asian Americans are starting to outperform the rest with respect to income adjusted for academic performance. But I am skeptical of these findings and looking for new data on this subject.

    Zachary, a question for you. How big of a threat to Asians is caucasion jealousy about Asian success?

    1. I don’t do “econometric studies”. I am a humanities person. I don’t speak your language. I do Music, Theater and English Literature. Unlike you, I don’t bullshit about fields that I have no qualification to speak about.

      Please refrain from ever directing a comment to me again.

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