Black magic

A badly-formed sentence reveals a fully-formed flaw: India is racist. Never mind, we knew already

By: Editorials | Updated: April 11, 2017 1:12 am

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BJP leader Tarun Vijay is of wheatish complexion, as anxious parents describe their daughters in the matrimonial columns. For him, too, this seems to be a source of anxiety. Aggravatingly, India has neither blacks nor whites, but a million shades of wheatish, and it is tedious to work out our anxieties on shifting shades of this wholesome hue. Only lunatics enjoy the cathartic luxury of beating up students from the African countries in the National Capital Region, in the conviction that they must be up to something dark.

Like Vijay, the rest of us must be content with watered-down, wishy-washy catharsis within domestic borders, achieved by disrespecting fellow citizens who are almost imperceptibly darker than ourselves. It is deeply unsatisfactory, and it must be mortifying to be hauled over the coals for the boring sin of discriminating between shades of wheatish in a “badly-formed sentence”. But even the Ku Klux Klan, which discriminated cleanly and manfully between stark blacks and whites, had a cross to bear. They had to parade in their nightgowns. But Tarun Vijay has diagnostic value. He has shown that under the skin, as a nation, we are deeply racist.

Actually, Vijay has not spoken for the nation. His syllogism is as badly formed as the sentence that brought him infamy. North equals wheatish. South is an area of darkness. North doesn’t really mind South, so long as it learns Hindi and learns to love rajma. Therefore, North is not racist. While absolving the North on ridiculous grounds, he has left the South hanging. We only know that Vijay has defined it as a dark sort of place. But is it racist itself, in search of darker regions to disrespect? Or not? From Vijay’s syllogism, we don’t know. Even a slathering of the fairness creams that film stars peddle couldn’t set right this double jeopardy.

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