Monday, January 22, 2007

This Too Shall Pass

'There's your hopes and your dreams you embrace
Then there's what's staring you in the face
Sorrowful times are here but they won't last
This too shall pass'

Bruce Hornsby

In response to this

Dear Ms. Alibhai-Brown,

I read your column with interest. I also listened to what you had to say on the BBC's News Twenty Four and frankly I found it rather amusing. I really don't think a country that treats a sixth of its population as subhuman (the lowest caste - the 'untouchables') has the right to lecture any other country on bigotry. This kind of discrimination occupies no column inches in our newspapers. No one takes to the streets and burns effigies of upper caste Indians on their behalf. But then they're not spoilt Bollywood actresses.

I am from a working class background so I'm probably not as intelligent and sophisticated as you are but there are a couple of things I just don't 'get':

1. Why do you consider racism wrong while endorsing other forms of bigotry such as class-based prejudice and misogyny? (You accused Jade Goody of being motivated by envy in her treatment of Ms. Shetty because the former is 'ugly' and the latter is 'beautiful' - because that is all woman is, right? Her packaging? The irony is that Ms. Shetty probably comes closer to Western ideals of beauty than Jade Goody who has West Indian features.) It seems like an illogical position to hold.

2. How is a programme watched by a minority of the population any more representative of the UK than the way in which some Indians treat their lower caste citizens? (They are exploited, mistreated, raped, tortured, immolated but that's clearly something that doesn't interest you. The next time you're at the BBC take a trip over to Radio Four's studios and listen to the episode of 'From Our Own Correspondent' that was broadcast on the Saturday before Christmas - it includes a particularly harrowing account of caste-based violence in rural India. That didn't make it into our newspapers - probably because it didn't involve any celebrities.)

Make no mistake, bigotry is wrong. All kinds of bigotry. Exhibiting a different kind of bigotry to Ms. Goody does not make you superior to her, it makes you the same as her. If you disapprove of someone's behaviour it's best to avoid emulating them.


And finally, could you please justify this:
http://www.internationalrelations.house.gov/archives/109/23825.pdf

yours sincerely,

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