How it begins

Editorial cartoonist Sandy Huffaker published this toon today:

Sure, maybe it’s a stereotype, but 9/11 changed everything. We really need to sock it to the bastards.

Well, we’ll do it sensitively. We’ve learned from our excesses.

“If I see someone (who) comes in that’s got a diaper on his head and a fan belt wrapped around the diaper on his head, that guy needs to be pulled over,” [Louisiana Congressman] Cooksey said. [Link]

C’mon, what’s the big deal about toilet paper? It’s just a throwaway joke. Nobody in America wears a turban. Seriously, you guys are way too sensitive.

Jerry: Kramer, he’s just a dentist.
Kramer: Yeah, and you’re an anti-dentite.
Jerry: I am not an anti-dentite!
Kramer: You’re a rabid anti-dentite! Oh, it starts with a few jokes and some slurs. “Hey, denty!” Next thing you know you’re saying they should have their own schools…

Jerry: That’s a good one. Dentists.
Beth: Yeah, who needs ‘em? [Pause] Not to mention the blacks and the Jews… [Link]

Geez, can you say ‘overreacting’?

… Frank Roque, 42, of Mesa, began spouting racist remarks to a bartender and co-workers, including that he was going to “kill some towelheads” and that all Arabs and their children should be rounded up and murdered… Roque drove a black Chevy S-10 pickup to a Chevron gas station and opened fire, killing [gas station owner] Balbir Singh Sodhi… [Link]

“I’m an American,” the suspect… said. “Arrest me and let those terrorists run wild.” [Link]

170 thoughts on “How it begins

  1. Tom Cruise as proto-type white man in movies. me as someone who enjoys seeing desi people in media at times

  2. Manish, you’re taking an unfair beating from someone else right now (who keeps impolitely asking the same legitimate question–how did your views on ethnicity/identity politics form–in ways that will never produce an answer from you because he’s accusatory and rude). That said, I can’t let this go:

    The post is 67 words long, excluding quotes. You might as well write a dissertation about the talk on a cereal box.

    I wasn’t aware that someone had imposed a character limit on your posts. I also wasn’t aware that we’re supposed to disregard lengthy quotes used for illustrative purposes. In any case, if you can make the argument you did in less than 67 words, you can make the analysis I’m asking you to make in less than 67 words.

    Here’s your post:

    1.presentation of inappropriate stereotype of Arabs today 2. attempted connection to stereotyping against Japanese during WWII (which implicitly invokes, to me, the internments) 3. attempted connection to moronic statement by public official reiterating that racism against Arabs exists 4. refutation of people who think that this isn’t a big deal by arguing that the “joke” masks a deeper sentiment that links other groups. 5. attempted connection to hate murder

    Here’s an alternative post that would address someo of what I’m talking about:

    1. presentation of inappropriate stereotype of Arabs today
    2. attempted connection of stereotype to broader cultural trends and government policies (i’ve seen fact sheets that draw out this connection)
    3. attempted connection to government actions and the statements of other powerful individuals/orgs (e.g. post 2001 profiling, War in Iraq, etc.)
    4. illustration of the income levels and/or professions (or some other indiciator of class) of hate crime victims, deportees, undocumented immigrants of all nationalities
    5. attempted connection of said policies and statements to other policies and statements that target other communities–War on Drugs, larger trend of deporting immigrants, etc. (if you want to include history, the Palmer Raids are a better example for you than the internments)

    You could even still have pictures!

    Come on–if you want to make an argument that you don’t think that the analsis you prestend carries more weight than what I’m arguing, then feel free to do so. The way I descriebd the alternative might be somewhat boring, but that’s my limitation–the underlying ideas are just as ready to be illustarted graphically or through quotes (although perhaps would take slightly more digging). But don’t pretend that the format is what excludes you from doing so. You relied on a series of entertaining anecdotes and images linked with one-liners–you could shift the analysis without changing that.

  3. if we had no ethnic media I’d run around thinking I was Tom Cruise. and that would be bad. no one wants that

    Raju, I mean this in all seriousness and without any sarcasm or snark–the way you put things sometimes is hilarious! I had absolutely no idea what you were talking about when you said this, but I thoroughly enjoyed the idea that, if deprived of SM and Bangla Patrika (or whatever you read), you would be walking around preaching about scientology and professing your love for Katie Holmes (and possibly trying to deal on your own with mental health issues and maybe even queerness!)

  4. Why not expand it and give me something to really sink my teeth into? (or send me whimpering into a corner)

    I think I sort of did that above in my response to Manish, and maybe in other places on this thread, but basically, I think this is a post targeted at peope who are going to be receptive to stereotypes, invokes the link to the japanese internments that I can’t seem to get away from and is highly overexaggerated giving current circumstances, draws no links to policies affecting other communities (like the War on drugs), makes no distinction between how the policies affecting “our communities” impact people differently at different levels, citizenship statuses, etc. (leading to hysteria about possible pogroms coming our way), and, in general, presents a political narrative that I find tenuous at best and distracting at worst.

    As for the militarism thing–I think it’s “normal” for people who feel violated to want to seek revenge, retribution and, most importantly, redress, and it’s on those grounds that I can understand/comprehend the war in Afghanistan as both an emotional and policy response. However, the overall trend of targeting Muslims domestically while lying and pushing the war in Iraq internationally and god knows what else (perhaps underlying seething resentments coming out post 2001 + the added backdrop that White working class people have been more politically disenfranchised over the past 15 years than they have in a while–in the sense that their bread and butter issues are not getting met + the generalized xenophobia, racism, etc. that comes out of that + the culture of militarism that exists in the U.S. + the systematic rooting out over 50 years of anyone who’s a leftist, socialist, pacifist, etc. from American politics through a variety of tactics from immigration policies to the McCarthy hearings to cointelpro + the problem of state funding and control of education in states where they simply do a horrible job of it…)

    asking me to flesh something out is genearlly not a good idea :)

  5. Here’s an alternative post that would address someo of what I’m talking about…

    You’re right, that would be a different post. That’s why you have a blog, no? Mine is a response to a caricature in the form of a caricature.

    … you can make the analysis I’m asking you to make in less than 67 words.

    I’d love to see you make a point in less than 67 words ;) (I kid, I kid…)

  6. I’d love to see you make a point in less than 67 words ;) (I kid, I kid…)

    Hey I didn’t say I could do it. All I have is an undergraduate history degree–they only trained me to critique, not produce :)

    You’re right, that would be a different post. Mines is a response to a caricature in the form of… a caricature.

    Okay, so first your argument was that the (self-imposed) word length prohibited you from doing it. Now your argument is that you were producing satire and therefore the analysis you presented is the one and only one that can be offered here and somehow beyond criticism that can be responded to. I’m not asking for a thesis here–just better politics behind your caricature. Or a defense as to why the message here is the appropriate one.

    I’m sure you’re well aware that 100 diffferent messages can be sent on any given issue through caricature with slight changes to wording or imagery–given that if you took the toilet paper roll out of the cartoon, we wouldn’t probably wouldn’t even be having this conversation and the focus of the cartoon would be entirely different.

    Word count: 134; I hope this is acceptable ;)

  7. Okay, so first your argument was that the (self-imposed) word length prohibited you from doing it.

    I’ve made one argument: this is a post in a specific format. You would have made different artistic and political judgments, bully for you.

    I’m not asking for a thesis here–just better politics behind your caricature. Or a defense as to why the message here is the appropriate one.

    I didn’t write an essay here and I am not going to write one now. If you boil down your objections to a few clear bullet points, I’d be happy to try and respond. I’ve looked at every comment of yours and it’s still not clear where the dividing line is between ‘this post’s point is wrong’ vs. ‘it’s ok, but I would have said something else.’

  8. Hmmm, interesting comments.

    So my observations as a conservative type who hangs out here:

    -Generally, the majority of the opinions of the commenters skew to the left but there are a few fairly tough minded conservatives who stick it out and post regularly (I need all the help I can get and I’m so glad when GC is around to shore up my silly writings).

    -The most intriguing are the “idiosyncrats”, I call them. You can’t tell which way they will go with an argument. I so want to be this person. A woman of mystery and all….

    -It is not a rare thing (although, it is certainly not the rule) for a desi commenter to complain about bias and bigotry and then turn around and make a bigoted comment about another race, especially whites. Quelle suprise and sort of sad.

    -The cartoon is deeply silly, don’t like the toilet role and don’t like the way Bush is portrayed either.

    -I don’t lose a lot of sleep over this kind of thing, but then, it’s not my blog.

    -I rarely agree with Manish on anything, and boy have we had some dust-ups in the comments section, but I believe he posts in good faith. This is what he thinks and he’s telling you why. So, if I disagree, the onus is on me to try and show him the error of his ways :)

    -Went out last night with a bunch of late-twenty somethings. Sweet kids, but how horrible it is to do things that are past your time, if you know what I mean. I just couldn’t have been more horrified. Did I really used to enjoy going out to such places? The wierd thing is, a lot of the kids looked slightly sad in repose. And lots of pretty desi girls sitting by themselves. What is wrong with you boys? Ask them to dance, for heaven’s sake. And if he asks you, don’t be stuck up. It’s just a dance, after all.

    (Altough, if I were a guy, or a gay woman, I would be very happy with the amount of cleavage that seems to be on display these days. Hard to buy a ‘blouse’ that is fashionable and doesn’t reveal yourself to the world. Still, I am so glad the ‘blouse is back’ although it makes me feel old since I remember the first time around, and isn’t Prada and all this ‘ethnicky’ beady chic gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous? You guys need a dedicated fashion blogger around here: ANNA could do it. She’s got that other fashion blog).

  9. MD, can you explain more about the inter-change of someone saying something bigoted about white people after complaining about racism? Personally I don’t believe white people in general need as much protection from racism as other people. because racism affects brown people in worse ways. Not to say its not sad for a brown person to be racist. I think its sad.

  10. Raju, complaining about racism and then turning around and saying something racist yourself (about white people, black people, or about, ahem, other south asians of a different ethnic group) is hypocritical and mind-blowingly stupid. Saying that a particular group “doesn’t need as much protection” assumes too much.

  11. Saurav, uh, your militarism argument rather echoes what I said about moronic depictions in comment #133. The parenthetical bit in #154 basically elaborates upon what I meant by saying “vestigial fears of minorities getting uppity.”

    Dude, quite pouting cause we all don’t think and write the way you think we should! Your quibbles about Manish’s post are an attempt to create another, entirely different post – as he or someone else already said. (I’m getting dizzy scrolling up and down.) It’s not your blog sweetheart. Pick your battles, eh?

  12. Forgive me for three comments in a row:

    I just like to give a shout out to all of Curry’s former neighbours and archivists. Without you, we wouldn’t know about the man he has become today. May God bless you all.

    mutt-faced execrable-wretch and a prancing pompous popinjay

    Punjabi Boy, I’m stealing these!

  13. Cicatrix,

    I can think of times when having racist views toward white people it really negatively hurts white people. And at all times I think its sad to harbor racist feelings toward any group.

    But what I’m assuming is racism disproportionately hurts people of color. This question has vexed me in the past because I see it as harmful to providing solutions to racism.

    I think the way our society looked would be totally different if anti-white racism was as big a problem in terms of making people’s lives harder as ia anti-black racism or at other times anti-desi racism, or racism against other groups

  14. sunday night greetings to all of your asses. (or monday morning for the uk massive.)

    saurav, you know i’m feeling you, my calcutta marxist intellectual coffee drinking class conscious thoughtful brother, but i do not get what you’re trying to do with manish’s post. first, i see nothing wrong with the original post. the brother is using poetic license, juxtaposing a series of images, other people’s words, and his own words, to create an impact. what’s wrong with that? let a hundred flowers bloom, yo.

    cicatrix and raju, all i’d like to point out is that racial prejudice and racism are two slightly different (though overlapping) concepts. racial prejudice is unpleasant and lowers the dignity and humanity of the prejudiced person. i think this is what cicatrix is pointing out. but racism is a system of power — and as such, it affects different groups differently. racism is a system with winners and losers. historically in the u.s. and elsewhere, white people have been the winners. that may well have frayed by now, or there may be numerous other subplots in operation, but that’s still the framework of historical record. so i’d endorse what raju is saying, if we’re talking power structure, and what cicatrix is saying, if we’re talking individual humanity. no contradiction.

    finally i want to give a big up to punjabi boy for his troll-dissolving techniques. like rubbing garlic on a vampire!


  15. it’s still not clear where the dividing line is between ‘this post’s point is wrong’ vs. ‘it’s ok, but I would have said something else.
    i see nothing wrong with the original post. the brother is using poetic license, juxtaposing a series of images, other people’s words, and his own words, to create an impact. what’s wrong with that?

    Okay, I’ll stop with this one since I’m not making any sense to anyone except me.

    There’s nothing wrong with using a particular format to make an argument–I just think the message of the post is flawed in the context of this blog and what I assume its target demographics are. A constant stream of posts on cartoons, epithets on radio stations, and other things (of which this is an example) which imo overemphasizes the impact of surface level racism has relative to a lot of other things that are going on and says nothing about the underlying causes. It’s like looking at six factors that produce something, ignoring five, and constantly harping on the other one all the time, all the while having less than minimal openness to talking about the other factors. I think the discussion in this article is relevant if you consider it in terms of “the South Asian community” rather than the subject of the article, which is “People of Color.” Here’s an excerpt:

    It’s true that no set of categories or concepts is perfect, and it would be easy to come up with arguments against the set I’ve chosen. But starting with a concept like ‘People of Color’, which obscures privilege and hierarchy within the racial system itself, can often make work harder for antiracists.

    And as a final point, just compare the treatment of this cartoon to that of the the one on the Dukes of Hazzard bit on the Daily Show (Confederate flag on a car).

  16. off the topic thats off the topic, but i think people of color works sometimes and other times is obfuscating

    just sayin

    also Saurav, man I think you’ve talked yourself into a circle here. I like what you say a lot of the time so thats why I’m saying it

  17. Md re going out,

    you know now that I’m hooked up I go to a desi event to dance and have fun, and mad girls be looking at me. I even where my engagement ring, and it does not stop them. my impression; A) when you’re not trying hard you’re much sexier, and B) girls you need to stop waiting for mister stud or whatever you’re doing, because I’m the same (sexy) guy I was before and you paid me no mind

    i’m not mad about it though

  18. cicatrix

    Yeah sure they are all yours! But I was thinking that ‘Pimply Pompous Popinjay’ sounds much better dont you think?

  19. Profile this

    A former Australian soldier is suspected of being a masked gunman who appeared in a videotaped terror message this week threatening attacks against the West, newspapers have reported. Mathew Stewart had served as a private with the U.N. peace keeping force in East Timor before he was discharged from the Australian army on psychiatric grounds in 2001 and apparently disappeared overseas. Counterterrorism authorities launched an investigation Wednesday when a man wearing a balaclava and speaking in what experts agree is an Australian accent appeared on Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television in what purported to be an al-Qaeda video tape made in Afghanistan