Consulate Handcuffed and Racism Cry!

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New York City law enforcement arrested an elite Indian consulate officer, and that too a woman, and allegedly handcuffed and cavity-searched her.

And Indian media blew up in smokes! Even Indian government, an ardent and sycophant ally of the U.S., said (or attempted to say) stern words against such “injustice.” It is now a dinner-table discussion at every elite and privileged Indian home, in Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore or Calcutta. Maybe, even Benaras, Jaipur and Cuttack.

Suddenly, even the most average Indian is feeling a strange anti-U.S. anger in their stomach, thanks to this huge media story.

Sure, it was an injustice. Even though Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York, was “arrested Thursday [December 12] outside of her daughter’s Manhattan school on charges that she lied on a visa application about how much she paid her housekeeper (U.S. prosecutors say the maid received less than $3 per hour for her work” — way below less than half of allowed minimum wages), but handcuffing her in public, and  strip searching and cavity-searching her in jail are unconscionable.

Indians have every right to be furious over such gross violation of human rights.

Problem is, these elite consulate officers, and Indian government and media houses that are now crying foul and slamming racism charges against the U.S. government NEVER speak a word when countless poor Indian immigrants go through such abusive treatment and flay of human rights across the U.S. on a daily basis.

Hotdog vendorTalk about the Indian restaurant cooks. Talk about the Indian maids. Talk about the construction helpers. Talk about the janitors. Talk about the taxi drivers. Talk about the fish scalers…meat cutters…delivery men…laundry men…hotdog vendors…grocery girls…

Now that a top consulate officer with the so-called diplomatic immunity got a taste of what the U.S. oppression is all about, everybody is screaming off their lungs. Even the Marxists and far right Shiv Sena rallied in various Indian cities to protest against “U.S. barbarism.”

Ah, those Marxists and far right Shiv Sena…! Fringe…really!

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I remember five or six years ago, Shah Rukh Khan, a famous Bollywood star got a taste of such treatment at JFK airport, and Indian media went berserk. I wrote an oped in a Bengal daily from Calcutta about that hypocrisy also. They — the daily Ekdin — even put it on their front page!

Plus, when did Indians earn the right to cry racism, period? Indians — Hindus and Muslims, at least the vast majority of them, both in India and USA, routinely call blacks names. Even today, Indians in general consider blacks as criminals, thanks to Bollywood and Hollywood junk movies and media stereotyping, and Indians’ own built-in racism against dark-skinned people (remember Gandhi’s anti-black rhetoric in South Africa?).

Indians living in the U.S. never want to talk, let alone know, their black neighbors or colleagues.

In my twenty-five years of living in the U.S., I have experienced countless experiences where Indians have made disparaging, obnoxious remarks about blacks in particular, and other minorities in general. Indians hate to live in a black-dominated neighborhood, such as Brooklyn in New York City, where we live.

I also remember about twenty years ago, a Congress Party prime minister P. V. Narasimha Rao, who was visiting the U.S. along with his diplomatic team, went to a lavish restaurant, and refused to be served by black waiters and waitresses.

Nobody called the Indian prime minister racist at that time.

detentionOf course, we all know how repressive, abusive and Kafkaesque U.S. law and order is. With the NSA scandal now breaking out more, we all know how Orwellian it is. I know very well. For years, I have worked as a post-9/11, grassroots community organizer especially with the South Asian, Muslim, Arab and Sikh immigrants of New York and New Jersey. I have seen how nightmarishly U.S. immigration and law enforcement picked up innocent men at gunpoint in the middle of the night — off their homes — and detained and deported them, tearing them apart from their wives and children.

That saga is still on. Obama government has deported a larger number of immigrants than Bush did.

These elite consulate officers, and their Indian governments and media did not cry foul at that time. And they’re not crying foul now.

In fact, they don’t even care.

Exposing another massive hypocrisy and double standard,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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7 thoughts on “Consulate Handcuffed and Racism Cry!

  1. Thank you for writing this. I was hoping you would. So I am not crazy because I have experienced racism, disbelief, disgust, etc from Indians (family / relatives) toward my husband, who is an African American…one of my siblings has not even met my husband, has refused to — on the grounds of …? I have no idea…but then I thought to myself how coincidental can it be that I am writing a dissertation about racism and cultural stereotypes, maybe the gods knew what was coming in my life so I was led into the path of exploring this issue. Any how, it is good to know someone else beside me sees Indian people’s racist attitudes toward Black people, what is astounding is Indians acting like their White. Really? We are as colored as any minority out there.

    1. Thanks for writing. Just now, at 5 A.M., a poor family in Brooklyn is dead. Their house caught fire. Countless fire trucks and the whole neighborhood came out on the street to show sadness and support for the victim family. Unbelievable scene! Most of these people are blacks. Some whites. Some Latinos. Some poor Indians and Bangladeshis and Pakistanis. These things happen in New York all the time. I never see those high officials coming out to help and support these poor people. This has been my experience all along. Unfortunately. I’ll write more about it.

  2. I see what you are saying here. I guess I felt that anyone who is paying her “help” so embarrassingly low is just as deserving of a frisk as someone who robs from the poor on the subway or pickpockets an elderly person. No one deserves to be humiliated but sometimes karma plays in to the circumstances. She is no martyr. And she is no hero.

    On the flip side, I had an Indian cabbie shortly after 9/11. A rock was thrown at his window because he was “taliban.” So thoughtless and racist and xenophobic. I don’t think that cabbie would agree that Ms. Khobragade was a victim but rather a thoughtless employer. Just a wild guess. I also don’t think that cabbie would look down upon those of other minority groups. Maybe I am incorrect to presume it’s a financial club here. Those with money and those without?

    Would Kanye be considered an icon or a menace to those in the Indian community with money? What if it were a dishwasher on Bushwick Avenue? I am thinking those racists own a Kanye album and consider him an exception. Not certain of it though.

      1. That’s because the dinner party people are far from oblivious or ignorant – they are too comfortable in their comforts to discuss. The nazi wives used to bathe and frolic and picnic with their children and pets just a stone’s through from the labor camps and death. They were too comfortable in their comforts to discuss. Or even help. It was work to think of such things and in doing such work with such comfort, it became a burden. Burdensome people make the comfortable people so angry. That’s human nature for some. Others just condition themselves to be like that. No idea why. Is rather be dead than be like that .

      2. You either bathe next to a labor camp, or in today’s USA, you watch Kardashians and Beyoncés in their bikinis. Or, you watch your stocks on Yahoo!! Nothing different, really, except for the level of depravity.

  3. This is one more example of the policies developed and encouraged by New York’s own Berlusconi, Mayor Bloomberg. We shall see if the incoming mayor will change things significantly for the better, that is to say, in the direction of human rights. Your descriptions, Partha, of the hypocrisy of the Indian “upper crust.” was enlightening. It makes me think that perhaps Bobby Jindal, the Republican Governor of the State of Louisiana, is not really a breakthrough for that Southern, usually racist state. Perhaps he sold himself to the white racists of his party by letting them know he was not African-American, but rather a tanned version of the ruling Caucasians, and was, in the words of existential philosophers, “other than.” I am saddened that the police abuse happened to anyone, even a member of an elitist class. I am embarrassed for my country, though I know the policy is not decried nearly enough. As you imply, this happens to poor, working class immigrants from Africa, Asia, and Latin America all the time, and to native-born citizens who are not white enough, and the media do not even report it. You are correct, it is a class issue after all.

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