The political lexicon expands as worldviews contract, and old hands are rewarded despite the blood that still sticks to them.On the day the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its 2016 Oscar nominees, it created some fervour, if not complete furore—the ancient devil had cast its ominous spell on Oscardom, rendering it, for the second time in row, overweeningly dumb, and draining its landscape of beautiful colours, leaving many people gab in wonderment: white white white, why?
Even Noble drone-man President Obama had to join the fray and ask at the end of his political homily Live from the White House, “Are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?” Diversity, he reminded everyone, makes America great. On this, one can imagine grumpy uncle Donald Trump raising his eagle-friendly hand and muttering in his idiosyncratic groan, “Bug off, Obama, with your divershity talk. Only I, Donald Trump, can make America great again.”
The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag had done good by blazing a trail for others to notice. While people did seem to have accepted there was something wrong with the way only certain actors were nominated and not equally deserving certain other ones, it seems as if it will still take 45 years more for one Charlotte Rampling to understand that it is not possible that “perhaps the black actors did not deserve to make the final list” two years in a row the same way it is not possible that “perhaps the white actors did not deserve to make the final list”. If, indeed, the latter scenario occurs someday—which seems as unlikely as Bush munching his Cheerios at the Hague—please do share with us your worthy thoughts, Charlotte.
As far as the wrought-iron racists were concerned, their responses immediately reminds me of those famous words written in the Gospel of Conrad (3:30): “they shouted periodically together strings of amazing words that resembled no sounds of human language; and the deep murmurs of the crowd, interrupted suddenly, were like the responses of some satanic litany.”
Well, as far as the wrought-iron racists were concerned, their responses immediately reminds me of those famous words written in the Gospel of Conrad (3:30): “they shouted periodically together strings of amazing words that resembled no sounds of human language; and the deep murmurs of the crowd, interrupted suddenly, were like the responses of some satanic litany.” One would expect that all this will come to an end pretty soon and as usual the American public, many of them on a regular Fox diet, will forget that Bush had actually invaded Iraq on the pretext of WMDs and Hillary had supported the war, that Ferguson was ignited not by phoney Caliph Baghdadi but the indigenous deep-rooted bigotry. Am I twaddling here?
Well, there is a ray of hope. One thing which will make sure that the latest Oscar controversy does not relapse into the cold storage of national dementia is the presence of Chris Rock at the 88th Academy Awards, slated to be beamed into our living rooms on 28 February. Yes, ironically, a black man is hosting the notorious all-white Oscars show. And guess what? He has said “I’m throwing out the show I wrote and writing a new show.” How many people of colour will stay away from the show—Will Smith, Jada Pinkett and Spike Lee have already raised their middle fingers—is not certain yet, but what is certain though is that Chris is going to Rock it, notwithstanding that he has been caught between a rock and a hard place!
* * *For South Asians, there is a real moment of regional pride and celebrations. Really. The prestigious American Political Science Association (APSA) has decided through an overwhelming vote to induct three new terms into its Political Dictionary for Politically-Incorrect Political Scientists: Mehbooba’s silence, Sharif’s quandary, and Bhaktsize. The president of the APSA released a detailed statement to the press, explaining reasons for inclusion of these new hot political terms in its dictionary. It reads:
The APSA believes in evolving with time and being open to diverse worldviews like the goodhearted Angela Merkel (though the Greeks might disagree!). South Asia is a vibrant region culturally, politically, and economically, though we would concede that some of South Asian politics and culture is complete bull. However, in an increasingly changing world which our scientists from the behaviouralist school of thought have proved—in their numerous peer-reviewed articles, which circulate exclusively—has changed pretty fast in the past 10 years in the wake of a Harvardian scandal called Facebook and other mind-screwing platforms, we have to consider the choices people make. Moreover, South Asians have increased their presence in the western academic world which makes it all the more important that we include terms reflective of the South Asian political culture, however shitty it may be.
Mehbooba’s silence perfectly captures a situation—in diplomacy—which is deliberately effected in order to confuse a powerful coalition partner in order to extract substantial outcomes. Etymologically, it comes from Mehbooba Mufti, a drama queen politician in the Indian-controlled Kashmir. Sharif’s quandary, on the other hand, denotes a situation in a democracy where an executive authority feels perpetually vulnerable to a powerful army and as a result, cannot take free decisions. Its etymology is obvious. And finally, the term Bhaktsize has a philosophical tinge to it, and comes in the category of logical fallacies. It is akin to argumentum ex culo, making things up or asserting evidence where none exists. For example, when Donald Trump claimed that he saw Muslims in New Jersey cheering when the World Trade Center came down, you can say Trump was actually bhaktsizing. The word comes from a curious tribe of supporters of a right-wing party in India, who are so emotionally devoted to it, that they start baying for the blood of everyone and everybody who criticises their beloved party and its leader. It is a kind of cultic devotion which makes people go completely bananas.”
* * *Jagmohan Malhotra, the former Governor of Kashmir, has been awarded a Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award by the Modi government for his exemplary role as bold executioner-in-chief in 1990s Kashmir. Expectedly, it has not gone down well with the unexecuted folks in Kashmir, who vociferously demand that old Jagmohan be sent to the warmer climes of the Hague to play board games with Radovan Karadžić.
I would suggest Kashmiris they should stop expecting anything from any government in India. The Congress, let me jog your memory, had also similarly bestowed in 2010 a Padma Shri on the dreaded killer Ghulam Muhammad Mir.
For them, Jagmohan is a notorious spent force who had, in 1990, spent much of his force on forcing Kashmiris to flee for their lives. They want him either persecuted or, better still, sent to hell. But it is an absurd demand. How can Kashmiri folks expect the government—no less from a government that does not like Kashmiris expecting anything at all—not to honour a man they had recommended and dispatched to Kashmir in the first place?
I would suggest Kashmiris they should stop expecting anything from any government in India. The Congress, let me jog your memory, had also similarly bestowed in 2010 a Padma Shri on the dreaded killer Ghulam Muhammad Mir, alias Mumma Kanna, whose name is enough to make many grown-up Kashmiris wet their cotton pyjamas.