I’ve been on a few Zoom panels lately where I feel like the other guests are a bit scared of me. I’m an assertive guy from the global majority, and they have to be kinda careful with me. While I can say whatever about white people, they can’t say shit about me. While they’re just one slip-up away from being cancelled, I can dispense slaps, liberally.
Whiteness is honestly a liability now, which is a very an interesting power shift. I’ve been in plenty of conversations looking into my ‘third world’ abyss, but now the abyss is looking back. The natives are restless, the Empire is on the back-foot, and I can feel it, personally.
You can see it for yourself on Indian TV.
Indian TV is bonkers on a good day. They have panels with a dozen people on them, all yelling over each other. It’s like a Mortal Kombat character-selection screen come to life. White people show up here expecting ‘Meet The Press’ and get fucking flayed. Just disemboweled, often hilariously.
For example, here’s Arnab Goswami lambasting some professor in a clip that’s been spreading across China as well. This segment starts with a Professor Charles Kapchan saying (falsely) the most of the world is coming together against Russia. He then tells India to ‘get off the fence’. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to tell an Indian what to do, but this does not go well. Goswami just unloads on him. He says:
Professor Charles Kupchan, you have no moral standing to talk. You are in no position as an American. America is in no position to pretend to be the guardian of democracy and human rights. You are the worst perpetrator of atrocities.
Now this is true, and Arnab rightly skewers a hypocrite here. But this is not oppressed confronting oppressor. A bit, but not really. What’s actually happening is that a bully is running into another bully. A thug from a fancy school is walking into a rougher neighborhood and just getting slapped.
As you can see, this rise of angry brown men is tempting to see as repping of the global majority, but it’s actually a bit more complicated than that. We contain our own hypocrisies. I’d like to get into that here.
I Am Not Your Minority
Please understand this. I am not your minority. Arnab Goswami is not your minority. On the Earth there are 2 billion people that look like us, and only a few hundred million that are looking pasty.
To understand our attitude, you also need to understand that we are also in the local majority. While we don’t have white power, we still have power on our own streets. We are in fact part of oppressive majorities.
As Walter White says in Breaking Bad:
“You clearly don’t know who you’re talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No! I am the one who knocks!”
In the same way, these condescending professors going on Indian TV clearly don’t know who they’re talking to. Arnab Goswami is dangerously Islamophobic in a country that’s going full genocidal on Muslims right now. Your Goswami viewer isn’t a guy who gets killed in a pogrom. He is the one who knocks.
In the same way, I’m part of a community that has been quite successfully genocidal towards Tamils and which has now moved onto Muslims. The only dangerous thing I do is criticize my own community for these acts. Criticizing White Empire has little to no (but not zero) cost for me. I take zero flak.
This is something important to understand. We are not minorities, neither globally nor locally, and that affects how we act. It is thus a rebellion of the powerful (and not the powerless) currently giving Empire a slap.
Rebellion At The Periphery
Someone like Goswami does not give a fuck about some professor from Georgetown. Goswami is lord of his own domain. In the same way, I am king of my own castle (albeit in my wife’s name).
This would be very different if I lived inside the imperial core. Recently I applied for a job from a European company and they asked about my writing, saying ‘we have a lot of customers that are Trump supporters.’ This would have a chilling effect on my political speech if I needed that job. The implication was clear (that I should stop). But I luckily didn’t need that job.
It would also be different if I lived at the imperial edge. People under bombs in Yemen or being starved in Afghanistan simply don’t have the bandwidth to talk. People under siege in Iran or Venezuela are so demonized across the western media that their opinions (and lives) don’t count.
But people like me or Goswami are from neither of these places. We use the imperial coin and language, but we have our own land, our own weapons, our own power base. We are from the imperial periphery, and we have both the bandwidth and independence to be suitably enraged.
While Sri Lankans and Indians are people Empire can certainly fuck with, we’re not people they can bomb. While we sound like we live next door, we do not. We’re not desperate people saying don’t bomb me. We’re not subservient people saying don’t fire me. We’re relatively comfortable people saying don’t bullshit me. That’s the assertiveness you’re seeing on screen. It’s not rebellion from the edge or the core. It’s rebellion at the periphery.
*How White Empire Is Cracking Up, from core to periphery to edge.
The Weaponized Edge
The people who should really be complaining are the ones being actively genocided for decades. Like Muslims. However, you don’t see many Afghans or Iranians or Palestinians themselves on TV. If you do, they’ve been so successfully demonized that what they say doesn’t register. They don’t have their own powerful media platforms to go viral from. More often their oppression gets usedby other people, quite cynically.
For example, the Americans use Uyghur Muslims to attack China. The idea that America gives a shit about Chinese Muslims—a Venn diagram of people they hate—is laughable. However, like any lie repeated long enough, it works remarkably well. While literally killing hundreds of Muslim newborns everyday, America is using Chinese Muslims to attack their enemy.
In truth, America admits zero Uyghur refugees, making it a unique genocide which no one seems to be fleeing. They even sanction the area these people live in—attacking them to save them—as is the American tradition. That whole issue is raised in bad faith, just as a weapon to hit China over the head with. And yet it works quite effectively.
In the same way, Goswami uses Libyan or Iraqi deaths to attack American morality, despite being quite openly Islamophobic towards his own Muslim neighbors. Goswami has said “During this lockdown, why does every crowd gather only near mosques?” He has attacked inter-marriage between Muslims and Hindus saying, “There is no debate over whether ‘Love Jihad’ exists or not. We know that it exists but this is India and we will not let it happen here.”
Is Goswami some great defender of the oppressed Muslims of the world? Fuck no. What we have here is just two bullies fighting, picking up Muslim issues to hit each other, but never holding those people anywhere close to their hearts. They’re both disingenuous pricks (albeit with vastly different body counts).Empire is worse, much worse, and it’s good that Goswami is putting them in their place. But it’s important to remember where Goswami himself is coming from.
But what about me? Am I disingenuous too? I speak about the millions of Muslims killed by Empire as if they’re killing us, but my own country has killed Muslims. I talk about the oppression of American military bases, but my country militarily occupies Tamil land. As much as I rep the Global Majority, I am also a local majority, and one with its own record of atrocities. While we’re certainly less prolific than Whitey, that doesn’t make us rightey. So how reliable am I?
I can’t answer that question for you. All I can offer is sacrifice. To me solidarity isn’t using power as much as it is giving it up, so this is what I can give:
I can say that Sri Lanka did commit genocide against the Tamil people (the destruction of the people in whole or in part). I can say that the LTTE was legitimate resistance against a brutal Sri Lankan military. I can say that the Tamil people have the right to self-determination and secession if they choose (or more accurately, if they can get it, over our dead bodies). I can say that Muslims are discriminated against by a racist state, backed by a lot of racist people.
You may not understand this, but these are all very controversial statements where I live. Some of the statements are borderline illegal, and would at least be brought up by the CID. Writing these things out costs me something, which is why I call it sacrifice. It’s not much, but I offer it up at the altar of integrity.
I’m not saying that I have integrity. That’s for you to decide. I’m just saying that I’m willing to give something up, for the pleasure of scaring white people. Because I don’t want to be just another bully, like Arnab Goswami.
As much as I enjoy watching a white professor squirm in front of Goswami, I know that he makes poor Muslims squirm on the daily. And I don’t want to be part of the same hypocrisy. Replacing whiteness with ‘Hinduness’ or ‘Sinhalaness’ is not the goal here, that’s just us copying our oppressors when we need to actually rewrite and delete.
So as much as I honestly like suddha panelists walking on eggshells around me, I have to acknowledge my own hypocrisy. I have to put in context that you’re dealing with people quite capable of being local thugs, and that you’re encountering us on our own territory. But with that sort of land and privilege acknowledgement out of the way, yeah, be afraid. Be very afraid.
There is a real rebellion around the periphery of Empire.The natives really are restless, some of us are already powerful, and we’re not going to be sepoys in your Cold War or World War III. There really is going to be a mutiny. There is a righteous anger rising all over the world, and while it often comes from non-righteous people, it is no less strong. It is perhaps stronger for that reason.
After years of picking on the poorest people on Earth, White Empire has started picking on people its own size. China, Russia, India, and the entire ‘Global South’. We are in fact the global majority, with vituperative majorities of our own. In this digitally flat world, as the geopolitics gets personal it will be—at best—a little awkward.