Sunday, January 13, 2002
"U.S. President George W. Bush this week called his Pakistani allies 'Pakis,' a word I dislike even using in print. This is an entirely different level of 'mangleton' than his previous gaffes, like referring to the 'Grecians' or the 'Kosovians.' God knows what he'd call us if we weren't already called 'Canadians.' 'Cans' maybe.
"Bush's people hastened to say he meant no disrespect. Bush apologists may believe he had tired of being mocked for his suffixal additives and instead of the predictable "Pakistanians" had simply chosen 'Pakis' as a short form."
"It's easy to snicker at Bush for being stupid, but his stupidity combined with wealth and power has been lethal for so many people. I look at his face and see millions of Americans who have just been told it's all right to use the word 'Paki' as long as you mean well."
As others have pointed out, most Americans don't know that Paki is used as a derogatory word by some in Great Britain. It's not clear to me that many Pakistanis consider it derogatory either. A quick search for the term "Paki" on the Web turns up numerous Pakistan-related sites that include paki in their name, such as www.paki.com.
More to the point, however, Mallick's horror would be more palatable if her own work was characterized by any semblance of such sensitivity. Let's take a look at, say, Heather Mallick's column from two weeks ago. [UPDATE: ARGGH! The Globe and Mail removes articles after a whopping 7 days. I guess Web storage is really costly in Canada.]
"I have been silent for months now as we have all attended our American-run obedience school. Columnists wrote with a straight face that 'we are all Americans now' and must rally in the face of the enemy.
"I don't agree with the assertion that we're all Americans. I am not. Even Americans are not. When I run down the long list of Americans I love, from Bruce Springsteen to Bill Bryson [Note from ExpatPundit: Yes, Heather, I'm sure Bruce and Bill speak highly of you too], I realize what they all have in common is their subversion. They don't like Americans either.
"Voting patterns reveal that there are two Americas, the heartland (Bushies) and the coasts (Gore-ites). The Coasters are smart, literate and cynical. The Heartlanders, to quote Jonathan Franzen's magnificent novel The Corrections,are '40 pounds overweight and sport pastel sweats, pro-life bumper stickers and Prussian hair.' They are a 'strategic national reserve of cluelessness' maintained to enable Coasters to feel civilized. What do smart Heartlanders do? Head for the coast, or to Canada.
"I don't agree that anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism (a crude term I will no longer accept) are equivalent. One is vile and rancid, and the other -- in my case, anti-Heartlandism -- is a dislike of a pictorial culture as opposed to a verbal culture. You may sum it up by saying that I don't like Disney 'stretch and squash' cartoons. I like what Stephen Fry said when he went to Cambridge: 'I would cover my life with words. I would spray the whole bloody world with words.'"
So apparently it is okay to pronounce all midwestern Americans as obese and stupid, unable to comprehend much beyond picture books with small words, and apply an intended-to-be-derogatory label such as Heartlanders. Thanks Heather! Keep spraying Canada with more words...but in the future, try to string them together in ways that make more sense.