Ignorance or Arrogance?
Dr Pravin Togadia
A few days back a young bright girl won Miss America title for beauty and brains. Of course the pageant was in America and the girl was Nina Devuluri – an American citizen of Indian origin, a daughter of medical doctor parents from Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh. Her birth place is Syracuse – known more as a university town in New York state. No! I am not giving her bio- data here. What ensued after she won Miss America defeating many White and non-White women was horrendous. A slur of racial abuse against her flooded social networking sites. Some said, “She is an Arab, the terrorist.” Some said, “What a misfortune! US President is a Black man and now Miss America is an Arab! Why can’t we have Whites winning all?” There were many such dirty hateful remarks. Very gracefully, she and her family ignored them.
What appals us is that this is not a one off incident of racial abuse meted out to those who do not look like them or do not have colour, eyes and hair like them. Them meaning Whites. A few months back, a Sikh shopkeeper was shot dead by a youth terming him ‘Osama Bin Laden’. Sikhs face such attacks in the US and in UK too. A well educated family met me recently. They had gone on a holiday to California area. In a nice restaurant, they ordered for their food. A smart waitress with blonde hair politely took their order and equally politely asked if they would pay cash or through credit card. They said, ‘Card’. Promptly she asked for the credit card and informed them that she had to verify their card before she forwarded their order. They noticed that others around them were not being treated that way. Well. What happened next is unimportant here, but this is an attitude.
Attitudinal apathy or looking down to others comes from either ignorance or arrogance. Hatred is a third reason but it is a heightened dimension of arrogance that springs out of superiority syndrome. Many may say that after 9/11 the US has been traumatised and therefore they treat others, especially, the Sikhs, Indians (in their language – East Indians. For them Indians means Red Indians – the natives living in the Americas even before the so called arrogant came in there) like terrorists because Osama looked somewhat the same. So? Because David Coleman Headley was a White looking man and therefore all India should treat all Whites as terrorists?
Some maybe ignorant (they don’t know the difference between an Arab and Indian! )as their schools do not bother to teach their kids much of global geography and culture in details to know the nuances well. They are stuck up within themselves. Even their school history of themselves cleverly avoids mentioning time much before Christopher Columbus’s voyages to the Americas because; it is a history of slavery, manipulation and early colonisation. From 10th century, at least 4 centuries before Columbus mistakenly went to the Americas, the land from Alaska to the southern side and from Brazil to the North had been explored by the Europeans.
By the time Thomas Jefferson inked the freedom from British colonial rule in America on July 4, 1776, Portuguese, French, Dutch, etc had their chunk creating their colonies in the open land, rich with minerals and good for farming. They all settled as they liked in that land. Russians had great occupation in the Alaskan areas. Their progenies settled there. Hispanics and Spanish were already, there in much before other Europeans. With 13 states the USA began, now it has people from almost more than half the world.
Another glaring truth which the world can never ignore about the US is that since 13th century to as latest as in 1865, the colonisers of the Americas as well as the new ‘independent’ rulers of the USA had ‘imported’ as much as 600,000 poor but healthy people from various parts of Africa who were treated as ‘slaves’ to do agonising manual labour on the farms, machines and homes etc. Despite the so-called slogans of Equality during independence from the British, this continued and later, worsened in the form of colour apartheid resulting into many a bloody riot in the new US. With skilled European farmers and the riches from the North, at the turn of the 20th century, the USA became a big rich country with the ambition to control the world. As they say, the rest is history.
Now, the issue is that who really is an outsider (‘alien’ in their words) in the USA and who is an insider? During 2 World Wars and then during the altercations among Central Asian countries and Islamic countries like Lebanon, Jordon, Palestine, Iran etc, and the countries like Hungary, China, Korea, etc again many people were given political asylums in the USA for a specific purpose to control those areas in the world while projecting the image of a ‘friendly, democratic country with equality for all’.
With economic power the US controlled the United Nations and started interfering (‘engaging’ as they say) in other nations’ affairs. Cold War with the USSR, attacks on Iran, Iraq, Vietnam and then subsequently breaking Russian areas and now siding Pak against India– all are part of this control freakiness. The Taliban, whom they fed, cracked Russia and then became bigger to attack the USA too in the form of jihadist terrorism.
The main difference between all those others who went in the Americas or in the USA and people from Bharat is that others went in either for colonisation or as slaves or as refugees. Indians as people never went to the USA to beg. Indians contribute to the US economy in Hi-Tech, Science, Academics, Finance and now even FMCG companies whether the youth their like it or not. Indian students pay almost double the fees compared to the American students. Young astronaut Kalpana Chawla gave her life for their space expedition and Sunita Williams sincerely contributes her expertise staying away in the space from the family. Many examples.
Yet, if a young girl is called ‘Arab’, ‘terrorist’ then the glitch is not ignorance. It is the holier than thou attitude of a large group in the USA who thinks it is more equal than the others, even more than their own President! Attacks on Gurudwara, looting Sikh shops, murders of Indian students, racial abuse Indians often face there, Indian doctors being given sub-graded duties in hospitals and subtle corporate /goverment discriminations are going on because of the superiority complex. Those who have it do not now know the history of their own origin! But we can still make a difference. If some are ignorant, then let’s educate them. If some are arrogant, then let us legally book them. Norway and Australia take Indian kids away from the parents and UK, USA treat Indians as ‘terrorists’.
Of course, there are a few Americans, British, etc who themselves do not appreciate such discrimination. Let us take their help, let us get people socio-politically active – more than what they are now. Let us make them culturally aware. Let me tell, the superiority syndrome is a disease; it will not vanish so easily. Well, some may even say, why go to the USA or UK when we have brilliant future in Bharat! Some may say, go everywhere and rule! I agree with the later. It will take care of both – ignorance and arrogance of those so-called ‘holier than thou’.
(The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org ; www.facebook.com/HinduNewsNetwork)