One thing I can’t avoid noticing is the problem some in my country have with brown people, particularly those of South Asian and Middle Eastern descent, that shows itself in racial, ethnic, and religious stereotyping in the media and the occasional hate crime by those whose main personal qualifications seem to be being white, racist, bigoted, and angry, not necessarily in that order.
Yes, I’m perfectly aware of the difference between ethnic bigotry and racism — let’s be perfectly clear on that — but ethnicity has a cultural component, too, and religion is often heavily intertwined with culture, and all too often associated with one’s apparent regional ancestry — so many of those of Middle Eastern descent are often and mistakenly considered Muslim by default in this country, while many of South Asian descent are typically stereotyped as Hindus, Muslims, or Buddhists whether they actually are or not.
Far too few here in the states have enough broad-mindedness to know the difference between Sikhs, Muslims, Jains, Zoroastrians and other Eastern religions and their respective cultural groups.
To some, every guy with a turban looks alike. This often leads to a lot of ugly confrontation involving self-styled patriots and innocent people.
One effect of this is that brown people – aside from being pigeonholed and profiled as terrorists, evil wizened viziers in badly-scripted Disney flicks, or out-of-period saree-dressed love interests unconvincingly played by Caucasian actresses in makeup – are made to be more ‘other’ and less human by the simplistic (to the point of falsity), unthinking connection of their ancestry with religious extremism and existential evil by the latest media-fed shark frenzy.
Consider that it was the mathematicians of India during the Gupta empire who invented much of today’s base-ten arithmetic, and its use of the zero as a placeholder for a number’s value.
Let’s also credit the Muslim scholars who not only carried to the West that same base-ten maths and their own sciences, but also preserved classical writings without which the European Renaissance and Enlightenment would never have happened.
I don’t think the world would be worth living in if none of that happened and we were forced to use Roman numerals in calculating long division problems, or being deprived of the literature of the pre-Socratic and post-Socratic philosophers to liven things up.
For my part, these people are some of my best online friends, can count among themselves many of the most beautiful women on the planet, some of the best artists, writers, musicians, a lot of the most brilliant scientists and mathematicians, past and present, and really, really good comedians…
I rest my case…