It’s time to nip in the bud racist rants at the Indian community.
By Sujeet Rajan
NEW YORK: Racism in America is like a soda bottle. If not opened carefully – as in not being discreet when you talk, write, or gesticulate – the placid looking liquid fizzes uncontrollably, creates a mess. Of course, there are elements in society who do more damage. The racists who assault, murder innocent people, spill blood.
An outpouring of racist tweets against the Indian American students who swept the Scripps National Spelling Bee championship last night is not completely unexpected. Similar hate spewed when Nina Davuluri became Miss America, last year.
To be outraged, rile at non-white, non-Caucasian winning, dominating in America, has become common, even as diversity increases. In Davuluri’s case, the hate shimmered across continents, with plenty of racists in India commenting on her dark complexion as well, wondering how the heck did she win the contest in the land of the white complexioned blondes with the blue eyes.
Racism is disgusting and disturbing. A single incident can scar communities for decades. But nowadays, it’s happening far too often, with impunity on the social media. Rants on twitter and Facebook is the digital version of the veiled, or the unveiled form of Ku Klux Klan attack on minorities.
Here’s a sample on twitter on rants against the Indian American kids at the Spelling Bee:
Heather Salovin: Heather Salovin@heasal87: Why are there no American kids left in the spelling bee? I’m ashamed of our kind. Parents – step it up.
Matt Marzullo@Matt_Marzullo: We need an american to win this spelling bee #tiredofindians
Mr. Underwood@yaboyzac_uoeno: The kids in the spelling bee should only be AMERICAN.
For those who want to read more of the repulsive vomit, go to vox.com, where there is a compilation:
Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking earlier this month at the commencement speech at Morgan State University, in Baltimore, Maryland, made a reference to the raging debate on race set off by Donald Sterling, and the swift condemnation by the country, but had this to say aptly about the subtle ways racists are sprouting their heads everywhere:
“These outbursts of bigotry, while deplorable, are not the true markers of the struggle that still must be waged, or the work that still needs to be done — because the greatest threats do not announce themselves in screaming headlines. They are more subtle. They cut deeper. And their terrible impact endures long after the headlines have faded and obvious, ignorant expressions of hatred have been marginalized,” said Holder.
While it’s one thing for Holder to point out the disruptive ways racism works to shred the fabric of an all-encompassing, liberal society, makes it less tolerant, it’s time racist comments made through twitter and Facebook are treated as state and federal violations, taken cognizance of by law enforcement and by public advocates of anti-discrimination movements, legal cases filed by community members.
These derogatory comments through the social media should be logged in a racist registry online (like vox.com has done), identifying the culprits. A kind of National Sex Offender Registry should be created, where people can find out if predators are living in their neighborhood; people who should be kept under the purview of the law enforcement. It should become the online version of public flogging; a blemish which will stick for a lifetime. It might go a long way in nipping present and future racists in the bud.
But even as the country tries to either continually avoid talking of race, ignore it, or talk about it avidly when a George Zimmerman, Clive Bundy or Donald Sterling comes on the scene, it’s expressed more brazenly on the social media than ever before.
The psychologically damaged young man Elliot Rodger, who went on a killing rampage in Santa Barbara, California, recently, before he allegedly killed himself, had this to say about his lack of having a girl-friend: ‘How could an inferior, ugly Black boy be able to get a White girl and not me? I am beautiful, and I am half White myself. I am descended from British aristocracy. He is descended from slaves. I deserve it more.’
In America the beautiful, racism snakes its head up at different levels. When Sterling says ‘Don’t bring black people (to my games)” he is ranting against blacks, not at all colored people. Not at Indians. But if a black kid had won the Bee, would the same outpouring of hate come in? Not likely.
Racism exists on different levels: at the lower strata of society, the African Americans are poked at by the Caucasians – as being good for nothing except for being hip hop, rap and crime wannabes, with sports thrown in as salvation, and at the top strata, at the level where education is the key, the Indian Americans are the ones who are pummeled. Perhaps, the racist comments that flow on the web comprise the opinion of a big chunk of America: the racist whites who are middle class or lower middle class, just above the impoverished Blacks economically, and far below the successful, wealthy Brown-skinned Indian community.
But it’s hard to classify racism as easily as that, though. Successful Black people too are not spared, not even President Barack Obama. Recently, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia implied that the Affordable Care Act is getting a hard time in GOP ranks because some Republicans don’t like Obama’s race, meaning his color.
The Washington Post did a story today which had journalist Jeff Chu compiling racist tweets against the desi Bee spellers. He tweeted on this too: “Why did the tweets hit me hard? I was a bee kid—’91, lost on “rimur.” And I want those kids never to be asked, “Where are you really from?”
The comments by readers to the story were fascinating. Here are some of them, which show a lot of America does not tolerate the nonsense and want to put a stop to it:
Feelanau: The “Sports Junkies” on 106.7 this morning were lamenting that it has been seven years since “an American” won the spelling bee and that Indians and Pakistanis are “assassins” when it comes to the bee. I assumed, and this article confirms, that these children ARE Americans. Are only white competitors “Americans”? Or does that definition extend to black contestants? Latino? Chinese? Korean? Persian? I was horrified that those idiots kept referring to these kids as not American.
Rosaleee: That would make sense IF there were only a few of these comments spread out among others congratulating these American winners. Given that the comments are DOMINATED by these ignoramuses, it is safe to assume that they represent a large segment of our population. And no, ignoring ignorance is never a good idea.
Magwitch: So SICK of people who look different being labeled as unamerican. Americans are from all over the globe, and there is nothing in the Constitution that says you have to have blond hair and blue eyes to be American.
And my personal favorite of all the readers’ comments:
Ari O: Funny, I was thinking the kids will be the heart surgeon, internal medicine physician, or geriatrician who will be taking care of these bigots.
(Sujeet Rajan is the Editor-in-Chief of The American Bazaar.)