Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Not Dead Yet 2

Six months or so since I was last here, so hello to empty space.

I had very nearly forgotten the existence of the Curmudgeon. I clicked on a link at the bottom of my bloglines page that hadn't been updated for a while and there it was. And then I read a few of the old posts and thought, hey, this is not half... shit, truth be told. But when has a small matter of quality ever stopped a blogger from hitting the publish button? So here goes.

Six months or so and some things have changed and some things have stayed the same. The Kid, bless him, is still talking bollocks and missing the point, as ever. (Mate, she spent the column inches defending the top ten positions you highlighted. That's the top ten wastes of tax payers' money you identified. You know, the ones you think were the biggest waste in a report of public sector non jobs.) Harry's Place still talks bollocks too, although there's a tad fewer objectively pro fascist apologist for terror accusations thrown about. Well there would be and it's only because there aren't that many Stoppers, (to use Harry's parlance) frequenting the place these days that they aren't constantly defending themselves from an equally inane counter insult - I can't think of a snappy one off the top of my head, but something along the lines of objectively pro country destroying apologist for civil war would do it. The other day one contributor shoved himself through the intellectual wringer by claiming that his support for the war was justified on the grounds that the ensuing mess is a different war.

But of course, things are profoundly different to what they were six months ago and such bloggerly considerations, admittedly never particularly important, now shrivel into absolute insignificance. The world has shifted on its axis. An international incident has occurred and the reverberations threaten to destabilise the fragile edifice upon which our civilization depends. I refer, as if you need to be told, to the Jade Goody affair.

Well, what do you say? Thousands of complaints, questions in the house, burning effigies and Gordon Brown trying to convince a whole country that we are not a race of vile, hate filled, bullying morons full of prejudice against people based solely on the accident of birth. That the country in question is the one that brought us the Gujerat riots, the Ayodha riots and the charming concept of Untouchability need not detain us for long, because calling someone "fuckawallah" is, after all, the absolute worse thing in the world you can do.

Actually, we should take heart, as the whole sorry saga is neat illustration of the fact that what divides us is far less important than what unites us. It's just that what divides us is the language we speak or the way we speak it, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the gods we do or do not worship, the colour of our skin, our class, our culture, our income and our intelligence while what unites us is our hypocrisy, our gang mentality, our unthinking prejudices and the inability to see them while condemning others in the foulest, meanest ways possible.

Thus we have Jade and co bullying Shilpa Shetty, a Hindu, in a nasty, racist way. Of course, this is unlikely to be Shilpa's first experience of prejudice towards someone based on that accident of birth thing. She will have some knowledge of the 160 million Dalits, or Untouchables in India, and may well have witnessed prejudice first hand. Although officially illegal and supposedly rare in the major cities, discrimination against the Dalits continues. In the Indian province of Rajasthan alone for instance, between the years 1999 and 2002, crimes against Untouchables average at about 5024 a year, with 46 killings and 138 cases of rape. Luckily for Shilpa, as a member of the forward (as against backward or scheduled) Bunt caste, this is one form of hate crime she will probably not have to endure.

But this is to digress a bit. The interesting thing about it all was the reaction, as all over the net and in the media a veritable hate fest was unleashed. Goody was subject to vicious abuse about her looks, her background, her chaviness, her intelligence, her accent, her weight and the fact that she was, er, viciously abusive and racist. She was called everything from a pig to a dog, including a pig and a dog.

And just as Goody and gang's protestations that they weren't racists betrayed their inability to see themselves as they really were, so those who heaped invective on them betrayed their own prejudices and purblindness. Misogyny and hatred of white trash, (to use Saint Jermaine Jackson's lovely phraseology) were foremost, but wherever the train of conversation turned, other prejudices were revealed. British Asians insulted each other, dividing on national and religious lines, one Malaysian Chinese on Comment is Free introduced us to the term Tamilshit, Germaine Greer seemed to insinuate that it was unacceptable to hate Shilpa Shetty on the grounds of her race, but not her class. Everywhere you looked, viciousness was matched only by monumental complacency and hypocrisy.

The Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, said, with a straight face, "Racism has no place in civilised society. The world knows that India has throughout firmly rejected all forms of discrimination and racism." The Sun saw fit to lecture its readers on the evils of racism, Darling Davina sternly grilled the offenders on their behaviour, apparently forgetting her earlier description of Jackiey Goody - who was at least as guilty as the rest - as an awesome housemate.

I was going to go on some more, about prejudice in general, out groups and such, but I've run out of steam. You get the drift. In short, the whole world's gone mad.