Thursday, 19 October 2006

Racism on the underpass...

This morning, as I approached the underpass I've used for nearly nine years now, I saw something I've never seen before - a silver swastika painted on the downhill pavement that leads to the underpass. As I looked at the walls, there were silver messages of hate everywhere - "I hate Pakies me", "Kill Pakies", "F*** Pakies" [the creativity was amazing], "NF" [National Front - a far-right British party opposed to immigration and multiculturalism], "BNP" [British National Party, which "stands for the preservation of the national and ethnic character of the British people and is wholly opposed to any form of racial integration between British and non-European peoples."]

My instantaneous reaction was shock, before my lips compressed into the cold, controlled anger that meant I would detach from any horror, fury or fear that I might otherwise feel, especially two days after seeing pictures of the unspeakable horrors at Belsen. Instead, my detachment allowed me to note the absurdity of certain things:

  • The swastika was left-facing - not the exclusively right-facing one used to represent the Nazi party and the BNP. If you are going to use an offensive symbol, have the grace to get it right.
  • The irony of using a symbol that has a huge positive significance in *my* ancestral culture against me - it has been on Hindu and Buddhist temples for millenia. It is derived from Sanskrit -"su" meaning "good", "asti" meaning "to be", "ka" being a diminutive. [Or "tika" meaning "little thing" or "mark"] So a swastika means "to be good" or "good little thing". In my ancestral language, a**hole.
  • As repelled as I am by the idea, Hitler adopted it in admiration of the Indian Aryans. Of which, as a Punjabi, I am one. Compare my genetic markers with yours, and you'll find that in terms of what's important in your small-minded, racist, evil idea of "racial purity of the Aryan race", I win.
  • If you're going to complain about how "furriners" never learn the English language, do feel free to use it properly: the correct spelling is "Pakis" and the correct grammar is "I hate Pakis".
  • Do you ever eat a curry? Shop on Christmas Day at your corner shop? Go to the hospital or the doctor's surgery and see a South Asian physician or nurse? Without multiculturalism, you'd have none of that.
Ok, I'm not so detached anymore. But nor am I going to stop walking through the underpass I have walked through for nearly nine years. I'm not giving him that kind of control, and I believe that those who graffiti don't often do. But am I going to be more careful?

You bet.

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