The Foreign Office in India has summoned New Zealand’s High Commissioner in that country to explain the racism of TVNZ breakfast presenter, Paul Henry, after Henry deliberately mispronounced the surname of the Delhi chief Minister “dick-shit”. If her surname was Patel, for argument’s sake, this would be and open-and-shut case of outrageous racial insensitivity. In fact, her name is Dikshit.
Apparently it is pronounced as in “Dixit” with a silent H. (I wonder if the Dikshit family ever considered discarding the “h” altogether since it serves no obvious purpose except for making their name look very much like it should be pronounced DICKSHIT).
None of this is to forgive Paul Henry. I am not a member of the racism police, but it is enough for me that Henry is a self-styled trouble-maker to determine that he is the worst kind of wanker.
If finding foreign language surnames that sound a lot like rude words in English funny is racist, then racism is very rampant indeed. A friend of mine once reported how the stiff formality of his graduation ceremony was shot to pieces when “Edwin Yu Phat Kok” was awarded his engineering degree.
If “quin” meant ejaculation fluid in Hindi, would I be offended if my arrival at Delhi airport was met with howls of laughter? I doubt it. I would probably find it funny and eventually really boring — but I would never ask my government to intervene.
So, it seems a little overwrought to call in diplomats over “Dikshitgate”. If anything calls for a radio play, this is it.
Indian Foreign Office. Tea cups clinking.
Official: Mr High Commissioner, you know why you are here. HiCom: Yis. Official: It is a very serious matter. HiCom: Yis, ut uz. Official: Minister Dikshit is a great servant to India and the Commonwealth and we find it extremely insulting that she should have her surname deliberately mangled so as to sound very much like obscene English words.` HiCom: We understand. Official: How would you like it if your name were mischievously reconfigured into synonyms for penis and excrement? HiCom: I should like it not at all. Official: You see the point, then, High Commissioner? HiCom: I most certainly do. Official: We are not content to leave it there. The Indian Government wants to convey this message very clearly to your government and to the Commonwealth more broadly: as punishment for the gross insensitivity of Mr Paul Henry, we will withhold from all parties a well-run Commonwealth Games. HiCom: I big your pardon? Official: You heard me, High Commissioner. India will ensure that the Delhi Games are a complete debacle as a way of conveying our offense at the Henry comments. We will make the whole experience weird and annoying for everyone involved. HiCom: Forgive me, but isn’t that somewhat extreme? Official: What is extreme, High Commissioner, is the phrase “DICKSHIT”. HiCom: Yis, but… Official: “Thanks, Paul Henry, for this terrible, terrible sporting event” – this will be the phrase will echo in every farflung corner of the Commonwealth, my dear High Commissioner!
N.B. Wikipedia does a good job of describing the Tea Party movement here if some references below don’t resonate with non-American readers.
I feel nauseous — and this Starbucks latte is only partly to blame.
Since I moved to New York about a year ago, I have operated under the happy delusion that conservative Christians and tea-party supporters exist in a parallel universe that will never intersect with my own. After all, the only Republicans I have encountered in twelve months are the tourists from flyover country I swerve to avoid on those rare occasions I venture into Times Square.
That’s all changed. As I write these words, I am at a Starbucks in DC, and two far-right Christianist lunatics have just brought to an end a meeting they conducted, at full volume, well within ear-shot. They had interrupted some very unchristian daydreaming when they sat down across from my table in the corner.
She is an extremely glamorous woman in her mid-30’s or so, with a lilting Southern accent she may or may not have acquired only after she adopted theocratic fascism as her life’s mission. He is a white-sounding African American reverend with a meticulous hairdo, a million-dollar wardrobe and a watch that screams “embezzler!”. The pastor and the glam.
I took it from their conversation (it was obviously their first encounter) that she was an ultra-conservative political activist who wanted to know how to persuade more black voters that homophobia is sufficient common ground for them to abandon Obama and the Democrats. It was also a strategy discussion about how to recruit more black faces to the tea-party, the populist movement that is in the process of sending the Republican Party, hurtling, to the fanatical fringe. Even though the ideological dialect couldn’t be further removed from my own, the language is the same: campaigns and elections, numbers and electoral districts; the bad-mouthing of factional enemies, the self-serving anecdotes, the subtle and not-so-subtle one-upmanship. I understand this better than English.
The duo opened with a familiar tune, castigating Obama for trying to lift the ban on homosexuals from serving in the US military and praising John McCain, once a moderate, for leading opposition on the issue. Having established that they hate the same people with more or less the same degree of animus, their courtship entered the next phase.
Glam was interested to find ways to help the conservative Jesus freak running against the Democratic Congressman from Virginia’s 2nd District, Glenn Nye. As they were talking, I googled Nye and it was soon apparent why they would have him in their sights; he is their least favorite kind of Democrat. Nye spent 10 years in the intelligence services and served in Iraq as a reservist. He is good-looking, Christian and clean-cut — and therefore near-impossible to vilify as a godless Nancy-boy, their preferred characterization of liberal opponents. The district Nye represents includes large African-American pockets, and this was the nub of the discussion: how the GOP could peel away some “minority” support by playing up social issues that they believe should send more black votes in their direction (but never does): aka gays and abortion, in either order.
The pastor then took a call, which he announced was from “Bishop Jackson”. Google soon informed me that Jackson is this region’s leading black conservative, a tea-party apologist and fire-breathing, gay-baiting bigot. Take this report from Daily Caller from last week:
Last December, shortly after the D.C. City Council passed a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples in Washington, D.C., Bishop Harry Jackson, the Maryland-based religious leader fighting marriage equality in the District, promised a “bloodletting.”
“In future races, religious people are going to start going after people’s political careers,” Jackson, the head of Stand4MarriageDC, told U.S. News and World Report. “You’re going to see a bloodletting that is going to mark a new style of engagement for people who are against same-sex marriage.”
Luckily, it turns out that Bishop Jackson is more hat than cattle on the “blood-letting” front: despite all his best efforts, the only gay-friendly DC politicians who lost in recent primary elections were defeated by candidates who are just as gay-friendly, if not more so. A bad day for the Old Testament.
Glam was clearly impressed by the sudden arrival by phone of this notorious gay-basher. The Bishop is, according to my typically thorough research, the most vocal African-American leader anywhere in the US to defend the tea-party against fairly self-evident charges of racism. Jackson is, therefore, a priceless asset — the race-traitor-in-chief.
The pastor made short work of the phone-call, and the couple soon turned their attention to Christine O’Donnell, the tea-party favourite and masturbation-is-adultery advocate, who just rocked the Republican Party establishment by winning its Senate Primary in Delaware. Glam and Pastor clearly approved of her victory in theory (O’Donnell defeated the kind of middle-of-the-road Republican disdained by the Christian Right) but were both concerned about the practical implications.
Quick, and relatively accurate, radio play:
Starbucks ambience: soft-rocky folk, subdued chatter, machines pretending to make espresso, sporadic retching.
Glam: There was panic at the Values Voter Summit about her going on the Sunday shows. But luckily, so-and-so managed to convince her to pull out in time.
Pastor: Good on so-and-so. It would’ve been ugly.
Glam: You know what, Reverend? O’Donnell doesn’t even have a scheduler!
Pastor: (very caucasianishly) Oh dear. So her campaign really is a…?
Glam: Yes, it really is a….”.
PQ: I think the phrase you’re looking for is ‘cluster fuck’.
They left soon after this exchange. The Pastor reassured Glam that African-Americans are coming around to conservatism, and Glam was either dumb or polite enough to either believe or pretend to believe him. Pastor then received another call as she left. “You know it!” he said, ending a brief but delirious conversation about the coming tea-party revolution and the end of Obama, “we’re gonna drain this swamp.”
How very holy, I thought.
I am not a parent and never will be, unless you count my inevitable future cats. But if I limited this blog to things I have directly experienced, it would become a morbid affair indeed: letting oneself go and down is rich but limited material.
So let me have the cheek to opine a tad about parents, specifically elderly parents….even more specifically, elderly parents in Waikanae.
It is no secret that Mums and Dads are prone to delusions about their progeny. If the children of the world were half as intelligent and good looking as their parents believe, there wouldn’t be anywhere near as many stupid and ugly people.
But it is only over the past week or so that I have begun to comprehend the scale of the parental delusion — and to gain a sense of how much effort must go into maintaining them in the face of messy reality.
It’s time for a radio play:
Suburban home, rattle of cups and spoons.
Bernice: How’s Derek?
Jan: Oh, he’s doing wonderfully.
Bernice: And Penny? They’re still loving Sydney?
Jan: Oh yes. They have bought a second place, did I tell you that?
Bernice: What? A holiday home?
Jan: No, it’s in the same area, just around the corner from their first home actually.
Bernice: As an investment?
Jan: Well, yes, you could say that. Derek is doing very well at work.
Bernice: Have they found tenants? For the investment property?
Jan: Well no, not yet. Penny is staying there in the meantime.
Bernice: Penny has moved out? And the kids?
Jan: No, no. Penny is just taking care of the rental property, and kids are keeping her company.
Bernice. Hmm. And is Derek OK alone?
Jan: Well, he is not alone exactly.
Jan: His good friend, Paul…you know Paul…
Bernice: The part-time model and hair-dresser?
Jan: Well, he works for Qantas now.
Bernice: Flight attendant?
Jan: No, he is a sensitivity trainer on sexuality issues.
Bernice: And he has the kid’s room now?
Jan: Well, not exactly. He has set up in Derek’s room. They have divided the bed into …how can I describe it?...notional halves…
Bernice: I see. Well, I better head off.
Jan: I’ll alert the stables.