Friday, January 7, 2011

Nationality and its consequences

So how does a selfless, committed, revered doctor and prominent health-care advocate arrive at a sedition charge onerously cast on him by a state in which he has worked tirelessly for most of his career among the poorest of the poor? Perhaps by the same extended logic that a Danish legislator uses when he audibly reflects on the efficacy of using nude portraits of women to dissuade the more religiously fundamentalist of possible visitors from choosing his country to escape the horrors of their so far dissipated existence in a third-world horror show. And the logic might extend even to those as yet unborn, in a passionately staged debate in the 'country of the free' related to the future children of immigrants from regions vaguely southerly.
Nationalism (and it is inevitably the stinking sum of its fetid parts) never seems to go away, with every occasional pan-global fraternal endeavour suddenly being replaced by a closing of ranks behind what is deemed 'local' and then, the tendentious peering out with suspicious eyes at those who are now not.
The breakout of a screaming desperate push-back of the privilege bestowed on a lucky few (to utilize the opportunity to choose to live and work in certain parts of the world) seems to be a peripatetic lust dictated to and overseen by events most obvious around every one of us on a day-to-day basis.
The Maoist problem getting too big - scapegoat someone, anyone, and hopefully there will be a debate that will lead to solutions to the problem. And what is the actual problem? The Maoist. And who is Maoist? Indian, but not quite... and dangerous.
In Denmark, and other parts around Europe, I imagine the debate framed on similar lines. Crime, loss of culture and even incontinence among the elderly - all related surely to those brown/black/yellow/other-white-skinned thugs from parts abroad. What is the problem? They are let in. And why is it a problem? Because they are brown/black/yellow/other-white-skinned thugs from parts abroad.
And in America... The spectre of looming financial ruin, the unemployment rates that will just not come down, the sight of shop signs and menu cards writ large in an alien language... Who is to blame? Those people. Which people? The ones who arrive illegally in the country only to have babies which will ensure that they get to stick around permanently.
What is nationality, after all? My frame of reference is confused, naturally. I am Indian, but from the south...  where we are different to those from the north. How, exactly? Because of my language, my visage, my moral values, my soul, my dreams, my yearnings, my culture. But my ethnicity is not being questioned here, only my nationality. But that is the same as saying my nationality relates only to my citizenship. But I cannot choose my nationality, now can I? Certainly, not any more than I can choose my ethnicity. But what I can do is choose my citizenship.
A perfect argument for modern-day institutional absurdity, in practice.

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