Thursday, October 25, 2012

Why women are bad part II

I received this comment today on an old post about Malaysia's "Obedient Wives Club", an Islamic group which argues that most of the world's problems are the fault of women who don't know their place. Here we get a "Christian" perspective on the matter:

well, women are the main problems in this world. They want to be men's equals all of a sudden and they want power that is supposed to belong ONLY to men. In the bible, in Gensis, God said to Eve: "The man shall rule over thee, thou desire will be to be subject to thy husband" Therefore making men more dominant than women really is natural, and women have to back the hell off.

This is why I am becoming a social science teacher: because there are too many people in this world whose thinking process is severely faulty, and they need all the help they can get. It is a mental flaw that is extremely prevalent in the unquestioningly religious.

The logic of that comment is that men should be dominant over women because God said so. Case closed. That is, if you believe that the Bible is the absolute word of God and there has never been any embellishment or misinterpretation.

Who wrote the Bible? Men. Even if you do believe it to be God's word, it is nonetheless God's word as interpreted and retold by men. So, surprise surprise, it turns out that God favours men.

But then again, if you believe in talking snakes and that the first woman was created from a man's rib... perhaps critical thinking is a step too far for you.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

England vs Serbia U21 football match descends into racist anarchy

Ah, the wonderful world of Eastern European football, where the favourite way for supporters to display their passion for their team is by racially abusing black players. That this happened in Serbia is completely unsurprising, but let me also point out that similar incidents have occurred recently in Croatia, Russia, Spain and elsewhere. (This same weekend, the Danish team complained to FIFA about racist chants during their World Cup Qualifier against Bulgaria in Sofia, directed at Danish defender Patrick Mtliga, who has Tanzanian heritage.)




England Under-21 star Danny Rose has called on UEFA to ban Serbia after admitting that racist abuse he suffered in Krusevac affected his game. The Tottenham defender, currently on loan at Sunderland, said he had been subjected to monkey taunts long before the violent scenes which marred the end of the Euro 2013 play-off.
Sports minister Hugh Robertson today sent a letter to UEFA president Michel Platini urging tough sanctions from the governing body following the "disgraceful scenes" of racism in Serbia. Rose was sent off after the final whistle for kicking a ball in anger in response to provocation as scuffles broke out involving Serbian supporters, players and other officials.
Rose told Sky Sports News: "I remember getting slapped twice and then I got ushered away. "That's when I kicked the ball - and the referee sent me off. I don't understand, the game had finished by then but he still sent me off for kicking the ball. "As I went off again there was monkey chanting, but the monkey chanting started long before I got sent off. "After 60 minutes my head wasn't really on the game. They have to be banned. I don't understand how else they can learn from it, they have to be banned."
Robertson has given his full support to the Football Association, who reported a number of incidents of racism to UEFA. The minister said: "The scenes at the end of the game last night were disgraceful. "I have written to UEFA president Michel Platini, in support of the FA, urging them to investigate immediately. "Racism in any form is unacceptable and must be stamped out. We would expect tough sanctions from UEFA on anyone found guilty of racist abuse." England assistant coach Steve Wigley was caught up in the trouble and was manhandled as he made his way to the tunnel after the game.

Rose said the issues were a culmination of problems which had been brewing throughout the evening at the Mladost Stadium. The 22-year-old added: "It started when we went out for the warm-up. "They started the monkey chanting straight away. I asked the lads if they could hear it and they said they could hear it. "Halfway through the warm-up I went to 'Wigs', the assistant manager, and told him what was happening. "He said I had to try my best to get through it and they would deal with it straight away after the game. "In the first half I went down to get the ball for a throw-in and the fans started again with the monkey chants, but the first half was nowhere near as bad as the second half. "In the second half I had two stones hit me on the head when I went to get the ball for a throw-in. Every time I touched the ball there was monkey chanting again. "After 60 minutes my mind wasn't really on the game after that. I was just so angry and it was just so hard to concentrate. "I could have cost the lads the game because I made a few mistakes through not concentrating. "Then obviously we scored. After 90 minutes' worth of abuse I just expressed my emotions as soon as we scored. "Then the next thing I know all the Serbia players have run over and were all surrounding me, pushing me and a brawl broke out."
 
Connor Wickham's injury-time strike clinched a 2-0 aggregate success. Sunderland backed their loan player, saying they were "shocked" by what happened in Serbia. Sunderland's chief executive Margaret Byrne said: "As a club we strongly believe that the power of football should be used to promote inclusion and celebrate diversity and there is no place for any form of racism within the game of football and society as a whole. "The scenes in Serbia last night shocked everyone and Sunderland Football Club wholeheartedly backs the Football Association's stance on the matter." [Source]

Of course, despite FIFA's public stance that racism is bad, they will do absolutely nothing about this, apart from uphold Danny Rose's red card for reacting to being called a monkey for 2 hours on end.
The monkey chants are clearly audible in this clip:



Friday, October 12, 2012

Racism in Aussie hip-hop (@ Peril Magazine)

I've got a new post up over at Peril, the online Asian-Australian arts and culture magazine. It's about the changing nature of Australian hip-hop, and how there have been recent complaints of white racist sentiments among some sections of its fanbase.

Yet hip-hop is also a special case. It arose from black American street culture in the late 70s and early 80s, and it still wears its ethnic origin on its sleeve. It has exposed both good and bad aspects of African-American life to the world like nothing else before it. New York City remains the epicentre of global hip-hop just as it was over 30 years ago. Unlike some other black forms of music that have become mainstream (jazz, blues, rock & roll), hip-hop is still mostly a black thing. So how do “white pride” and “white power” elements come to exist in an art form that is so intrinsically non-white at its core?

Check it here.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Scandal as black man has a black accent

In the latest shocking evidence of something or other that right-wing pundits have dug up, Barack Obama has been captured on film in 2007, addressing a black audience and playing up certain "black"characteristics in his voice. And this is important because... I'm not sure exactly.
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Is Obama's accent really that different when talking to the black audience? I don't really think so, but in any case, it's something I don't find particularly unusual. It's called code-switching, and its something that a lot of people do unconsciously. Particularly bicultural people, or those who navigate between different cultures.

For my own part, I speak differently when I'm around people who don't speak English very well. Every time I go to Malaysia, I have a vaguely Malaysian accent after being there about 2 days. I call people "mate" when around working class white Australians, but use "man" when around younger or more ethnic peoples. And having just been intensively watching repeats of The Wire, more and more bits and pieces of ebonics are creeping into my speech. And all this is pretty much unconscious. It just happens, because like many other people I tend to attune to whoever I'm around. So I'm not at all surprised that somone like Obama does it.


Excellent article on this by John McWhorter at The New Republic.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

South Asians achieving comedic milestones on US and UK television


The always amusing Hari Kondabolu has a nice bit here about seeing a few more brown faces on the small screen these days, with the premiere of Mindy Kaling's new series The Mindy Project.
(This clip is from Totally Biased with W Kamau Bell)



His line that “there are now enough Indian people where I don’t need to like you just because you’re Indian” is so funny because it reflects something real. Often, members of minority groups feel so starved of representation in the media that we will automatically like anyone who ticks that box regardless of how good they actually are. But the reverse can be also true, as we can be overly critical of someone in the public eye who doesn't represent us properly. This might seem silly to some; white people don't tend to feel embarrassed because Honey Boo Boo Child is making white people look bad. But that's because there are enough white people everywhere else on TV that Honey Boo Boo is not going to create or perpetuate stereotypes about all white people. A subset of white people, perhaps.


Meanwhile in the UK, the BBC's first South Asian sitcom, Citizen Khan is well into its first season. Starring its creator Adil Ray, it portrays a British-Pakistani family man who overestimates his influence and importance as a community leader. Its debut episode stirred a lot of controversy and complaints that it mocked Islam and relied on lazy stereotypes. The latter count is true enough - it often feels like something that was made in the 70s or 80s rather than 2012. But it also plays with the stereotypes cleverly enough at times to make it just about worth watching, even if the laugh track seems overdone.
As for the accusation of being insensitive or insulting to Islam... meh. The aspect of the show that seemed to cause the most consternation was Mr Khan's daughter Aisha, who plays the perfect Muslim daughter in front of her parents but leads a rather different life when they are out of sight. But as Homer Simpson once said: "It's funny 'cause it's true." It's reflective of one of the major themes that runs through the show - the contrast between the public facade and the private reality, exemplified by Mr Khan himself. Also cleverly done is the interaction between Khan and the mosque manager, a white Muslim convert.

Funny-wise, Citizen Khan has a few laugh-out-loud moments but overall is well below the standard of the UK Asian sketch show Goodness Gracious Me, and perhaps not even at the level of The Kumars at No. 42. But I actually think this is an important show, even if it's not quite as funny as it should be. Being able to laugh at oneself, and by extension one's own culture, seems to be an important part of fitting into the British way of life. And frankly, if there's one community that needs a show like this, it's the British Pakistani community.