UGH! I'm sorry, but Americans are so fucking self-satisfied in their own ignorance! I've just been reading a thread on a newsgroup where someone expressed disbelief that Trent Lott would use the word "Paki" to describe the inhabitants of Pakistan, as in "The Pakis have been very helpful..." and the majority of the newsgroup readers were like, so?
Well, first of all, in every English speaking country other than America, that is a recognizable slur. Calling a someone of Indian-subcontinent-descent a "Paki" in England or Canada is comparable to"kike" or "chink."
Second of all, there's no such goddamned thing as a "Paki"!! It is in no way similar to the Uzbeks of Uzbekistan, or the Tajiks ofTajikistan. "Paki" is not an ethnic or national group. The "Paks" in Pakistan is an anagram for the four most prevalent ethnic groups within the state: Punjab, Afghan, Kashmiri, Sindhi. (Although, technically, "Afghan" isn't a terribly useful descriptive term, as has been made pretty clearby the media coverage on Afghan ethnic conflicts, but I digress.) (Strangely enough, this name also did NOT include the Bengalis of what would later become Bangladesh but was originally East Pakistan and the site of the civil war...but I digress again)
I'm not saying that the average American should be expected to know this stuff off the top of their head. It would be nice if any of them did. But what really got my goat was the people who wrote to the thread saying, "Well, I've always just called them Pakistinians."
You HAVE? Well, what the fuck is WRONG WITH YOU!?!? This is like Rutha with the "Talebanese" and the "Talibanians," but at least Rutha was upfront about the fact she didn't know what she was talking about and not completely like, "doh, dee doh, dee doh, I'm a stupid American, I have no concept of the difference between Palestinians and Pakistanis, la la la, they're all just darkie Muslim terrorists, right? dooh dah, dooh dah."
This is why people hate Americans. THIS is the image ofAmerica that people have -- people with no knowledge or background in world history or current events, and no interest in learning anything about what's happening other than with their own money and their own gas guzzling cars and their preferred football team and Britney Spears' latest single, and being perfectly happy with that and expecting the world to just cater to them because, goddammit, they pay their taxes!
I know a damn lot of useless pop culture knowledge. But I also know a fair amount about what's going on in the world beyond my own backyard, and I always want to learn more. Self-satisfied idiots will be the death of this country -- and it's good to know my representatives in Congress are among those self-satisfied idiots. Because why would Trent Lott be expected to know there's no such thing as a "Paki"? He's just a FUCKING SENATOR!!