Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chip, Shoulder and Afghanistan

Do I have a chip on my shoulder?

Am I bitter?

In the last ten days or so, a couple of people around me have commented on my 'playing the race card'. Apparently, I over-analyse a particular situation and attribute the way someone acts as racist.

This has given rise to the opinion that I'm bitter and have a chip on my shoulder.

I don't think I'm like that.

In fact, I know I'm not like that because I'm usually responding to others around me to make a point. I think my particular workplace brings out the worst in the whole issue of racism.

There are so many people who say that racism is an issue while tacitly doing nothing about it. Not because they don't want to, but purely because they're not sure how to deal with it. What do you say when the culture around us has middle-class white-boys listening to black-African-Americans calling each other niggers?

Then there are other people who think they're not racist, but consistently demonstrate their own ignorance. I call this 'transparent racism' - purely because to the casual whitey they're being very aware and forward-thinking. From my perspective all they're doing is making things worse. I might be brown-skinned, but does that automatically mean:
1) I'm Muslim/ Hindu/ Sikh?*
2) I don't eat pork or beef?
3) I don't drink alcohol?
4) I'm immediately going to understand the situation in Afghanistan?
5) I'm a terrorist?

Umm...not necessarily. Don't we all know to 'never judge a book by its cover?' I guess it's much harder in practice than in theory.

I think that number four above got me going a bit recently. I was in a monologue (where someone was talking at me rather than having a conversation) about events in Afghanistan, what the war was about and how people (i.e. young white British men) were dying unnecessarily.

I'm always a bit surprised that intelligent people seem to focus on the one side of the argument presented to them in the media around them. There's been a lot of coverage recently about the British military casualties in T.W.A.T.** in Afghanistan, but nothing about what it's like for the average Afghani (attempting) living in a country destabilised by war.

I'm not condoning terrorist behaviour or saying the situation is easy. I'd much rather see issues presented from all sides to show truly how complicated it is, instead of things being simplified and people being told what to think.

The point being mentioned by the press is an under-equipped British military force in Afghanistan. Not enough helicopters is the most frequent phrase. But who supplies the British military with its weapons? I don't actually know. And what about the Taliban - what are they fighting with? Obviously not sticks and stones. Where do they get their weapons from?

The five biggest arms suppliers in the world are: U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council are: U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China.

Understanding economics and Capitalism and after watching Lord of War, I think in a war or recession or both, somebody somewhere is making lots of cash.

Apart from the wonderful reporting, what really irritates me is when people make blanket statements (during their monologue) about a particular issue or group of people. I am then obliged to shock them out of their stupor by saying things like 'the easiest solution is to drop a nuclear bomb on all the brown people with beards and the problem will be solved. No more terrorists.'*** This phrase is made all the wonderful by me saying it. Nothing like being a living breathing contradiction to wake people up. Especially as quite a few people are not sure how deal with this thorny issue of race...

I just can't help feeling that the people who have lost family members in the Afghanistan are not going to extend a hand of friendship to brown-skinned bearded people.

Or is that the chip on my shoulder again?

*delete as appropriate according to beard length/ facial hair style/ last pictures appearing on the BBC or in UK Newspaper.

**The War Against Terrorism

***Of course I don't really think that - what about all the terrorists in the governments of the west? ;-) Seriously though, people who know me understand I'm saying things to make a point, but the average whitey really doesn't have a fucking clue.