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Nov 12 2013

Why I Made A Short Post…

No! Bad! Stahp!

Sometimes I get some rather bizarre mail and this one is particularly no different.

Avicenna thinks his readers (well, the advertisers he “writes” about, are dogs. His whole post, titled : “No! Wrong! Bad!” (I personally think he needs more caps and some more exclamation points), followed by a “sexy color ad”

His Ophie-like contribution:

No…
If you don’t get why this is wrong or how wrong this is then what’s the point in explaining why this is a terrible idea?

Well, maybe to help explain to those who see nothing wrong what it is you find wrong about it? Was that hard? I hope he really has no teaching duties – I suspect any doctor trained by him will kill any patient they come into contact with.

I find it rather amusing. I produced a rather small blog post for once. Most of my posts exceed the 800 word mark and I think I have the largest post on FTB. I am also NOT a professional writer but in healthcare. I assume this is from the anti-FTB faction because frankly most people complain my posts are too longer rather than short?

This I find rather amusing. See I know I write at a furious pace when I have the time. My posts generally have high word counts. Even professional full time writers don’t keep up a similar pace. I know that’s because I take very little care with editors or checking for mistakes of grammar, spelling and punctuation and that I tend to write without any structure. Why?

Because I write for catharsis. It’s a way of calming down and keeping cool. It gives me a space to vent. I was suprised that peopel wished to read what I wrote. Eventually people made requests hence I read all the email that comes through to me. I was astonished that so many people were willing to donate and help out in keeping A Million Gods functional and helping out in the various causes and all throughout that not one…

I repeat not one person has complained about the occassional short blog post.

So I ask the question? What do you want me to say? Oh Noes! The person who came up with this advertisement is whitewashing an already whitewashed festival? That Thanksgiving in the USA whitewashes the genocide of Native Americans and destruction of culture to the point that the Native American cultural diversity is unified under a single banner of Native American. I know that Indian Culture is a catch-all phrase for all the cultural groups in the Sub-Continent. I know there is a diverse range of Cultures in the UK. I know that despite being under 200 years old, the USA’s cultural diversity is so widespread. Florida and Seattle are in the same country. Hell there have been actual fisticuffs over culture WITHIN the USA within the same communities such as the East/West Coast Rap “beef”.

And you are telling me that Native American (sorry! Indian! Feather not Dot) is a single monolithic culture to be remembered in passing during Thanksgiving and generally ignored throughout the year except for “one day”.

Okay… what else can I rant about?

Oh! The actual photo!

The Native Americans brought MORE than “corn”. Personally I don’t know what the inverted commas are meant to signify or what sort of euphemism we are applying to corn but I will say this.

The entire world’s cuisine could not happen without the addition of native american food. Particularly the cuisine of my own culture. Indians (feather) helped make Indians (dot) cooking a reality.

When the Mughals came to India they made a very strange (for now) complaint. They found Indian cooking bland and tasteless. The Indian spices are mainly from the South but the things that gave Indian cooking it’s immense hitting power had not arrived yet.

The Portuguese, French and British began to bring in crops from the New World. Domesticated crops such as corn. Indian corn on the cob venders can be found on every street making grilled corn. Potatoes are added to almost every dish? The subtle spice mixes of the south would have no counter point if not for the chillies that Indians bred to frankly terrifying strengths. Potatoes, Tomatoes, Aubergines, Maize… the list keeps going on and on. So many of these things are such staples of our diet that we cannot go a day without eating them.

And then there is the “other” Indian passion of the south. Coffee. South Indians Love Coffee. I can easily get a cup for breakfast, another around 11, one for lunch, another around 3 another at 6 and one after tea. Why? Because anytime is coffee time. It’s not strong coffee but a bitter sweet, milky one that’s hand poured to a froth.

Okay so we got the corn out of the way.

Oh we can talk about the image here where you either darkened up a white lady with dark hair to look like what you think the Native Americans looked like and then dressed her up in what you think the Native Americans wore if the Native Americans were dressed by Ann Summers.

We can talk about all that but let us talk about why I produced such a small piece…

I am in the South Of Asia.

Pay Attention to the News Haters…

Leyte is the area of the Philippines hardest hit.

See when the Cyclone hit the damage was so extensive that the mechanisms that tell you how damaged things are was damaged. This means no one has the blindest idea of what happened. The Philippines Communication Network was smashed to pieces. Only now reports are coming in and many villages are still silent.

The worst hit is Tacloban. It’s a deadly combination of poverty slum housing, incredible windspeed, rain and bad roads.

Just one hospital is functional but more are being resurrected. Power, water and food shortages exist and there has been looting and violence. There is already an outbreak of dysentery.

It’s really fighting uphill. I started writing this on Saturday before getting the call to move out.

So I am asking you to donate. And please, I know people like donating clothes and shoes but remember these things are considered an insult in many parts of the world. They are victims of a cyclone storm not beggars. No Old Shoes, No Random Cans of Food, No Medicine Boxes. Donate to people who are skilled humanitarian workers who have a long and proven track record of solid relief.

With clothes what often happens is that they are never used. They wasted valuable space being shipped down and they often harm the local wildlife or contribute to garbage. The shoes? Come on? How many people send 4 inch heels? Medicine? We have medicines, we buy them wholesale or even get them for free from some companies who wish to donate in “kind”. We have deals, we cannot use half a tube of Preparation H…. It’s the same for tinned food. We prefer dehydrated foods because tins are heavy and honestly one tin of peaches or pineapple (my favourites) can cause a fight if another person’s tin doesn’t contain that.

It won’t make my life here easier but it will help those who come after me.

Oxfam

And if you like to see what your donations PRECISELY can do?

MSF

 

9 comments

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  1. 1
    Pen

    The Native Americans brought MORE than “corn”. Personally I don’t know what the inverted commas are meant to signify or what sort of euphemism we are applying to corn but I will say this.

    It was me who said that. I suspect it means ‘corn’ as in ‘isn’t this a corny image we have self-consciously produced’. I think it is an attempt at a joke or poe or whatever you want to call it. Whether it is a bad one or has some valid point might depend a bit on the context for which it was intended. Or I might be wrong of course.

    Avi, can I beg you, as a historian to a doctor…. provenance, context, authorship… where did you get it from, mate? Frankly, otherwise we can’t tell what’s wrong with it. It might be one thing if it was made for the sun tan salon of Smalltown, IL and quite another if it was made by Joe the cynical seeker of Trouble on the Internet. Or perhaps it was intended as a conversation piece to promote discussion of all that’s wrong with less obvious manifestations of the same thing. In which case, it might conceivably have some rightness to it, in the right context with the right presentation.

  2. 2
    Pen

    OK – so I did it myself. The story can be read here. It is indeed a real salon ad, produced by, interestingly enough, a man from a smallish town in Alabama who is Native American and ‘proud of his heritage’. He says:

    “I myself am Native American and I am very proud of my heritage and skin tone. The thought process behind the ad was simply a play on my own ‘sexy color.’ Again, I apologize for any offense and misunderstanding,”

    So that is interesting information, which somewhat changes my view of the badness of the ad and why it might be bad. Mr Arnett draws a parallel between white women tanning themselves artificially and his own natural skin colour. He is also not phased by (or does not know about) the uglier side of the Thanksgiving festival from the point of view of Native Americans. Presumably, he has no regrets, and is quite comfortable with people celebrating the occasion in tacky pilgrim/indian costumes, probably with a completely free choice of who gets to play which part. Just as we don’t care too much about witch hunts when we dress up for Halloween. Obviously, many people don’t share his view.

    OK – so I don’t know why he put corn in inverted commas. Maybe he just thinks inverted commas look cool as well.

  3. 3
    Mary L

    It’s possible that the word corn was highlighted that way because the word corn is also used to mean any grain.

  4. 4
    Hera

    Honestly? I didn’t think you needed to justify yourself with a long post to satisfy the person writing the hate mail. Haters gonna hate. Especially stupid haters who apparently really don’t get it. It’s your blog, your ideas, you write whenever you want, however short it may be.

    The stupidity behind this person’s comments is ridiculous but do not grant it the courtesy of justification on your blog yet again. It really doesn’t deserve it.

  5. 5
    Ani J. Sharmin

    Thanks for the post, and the reminder to donate money rather than stuff. I also find it really strange for someone to complain that you wrote a short post.

  6. 6
    Lsuoma

    It’s AMAZING that the email you received is the same word-for-word, link-for-link as this post at the Slyme Pit, and that the image you post is identical to the one used over there. Some coincidence, eh?

  7. 7
    Avicenna

    What’s more Amazing is that the picture and the post are both from my blog… So even if it is from the Slymepit, the response I believe is still valid.

  8. 8
    brive1987

    Is that a correction then to the OP re “mail”?

  9. 9
    dogmeat

    Mr Arnett draws a parallel between white women tanning themselves artificially and his own natural skin colour. He is also not phased by (or does not know about) the uglier side of the Thanksgiving festival from the point of view of Native Americans.

    This is common amongst first nation descendents. We’re a diverse group with diverse histories and rather unusual combination of cultures, languages, and knowledge (or lack of). Personally, my German ancestry dominates my native ancestry, so I’m the whitest damned “injun” you ever saw. My cousin, on the other hand, is “traditional,” as was my mother. I had a friend in college who was Seminole, but his complexion was that of a dark, dark skin African American. Knowledge (and concern) for the history of Native Peoples in the Americas is equally hit-and-miss within our collective population. The majority of Native Americans in the US don’t live on reservations and never have. Ties to our ancestral histories and cultures are often lost because of the economic realities of living in a majority European society. Living on the “rez” generally means a life of poverty often with associated drug and alcohol problems. Leaving the reservation usually means losing your “Indian-ness.” Something of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. I had to study my ancestral roots in college because my family had left the reservation and “passed” for nearly 100 years prior to my birth.

    Add to that, there is a tendency in the US for non-Natives to claim Native ancestry. This tenders to further muddy the waters and leave to even more confusion regarding what is accurate versus what is myth, etc.

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