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Colonial Maxims

My father’s colonial maxims never comforted me. Might is right is his favorite.

If it’s true we’re all in trouble. After 9/11 some Sikh Americans acted like Chinese Americans did in World War 2. We are Chinese not Japanese signs appeared overnight during the period of internment of Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians. Self-preservation and survival are strong instincts. After September 11th, 2001, lengthy explanations on the fundamental differences of Sikhism and Islam were offered. Turban tying style guides printed. A public relations offensive launched.  But underneath wasn’t there a lack of solidarity with Muslim Americans? Much of the focus on drawing the distinctions was to really say, “You are attacking the wrong person. The one you want is over there.” True, this was being said as many of the most violent attacks happened to the most visible targets, Sikh men.

It is worth ruminating on the general ignorance of the American population when it comes to the rest of the world and the people that populate it. True, Americans can benefit from a lecture on the different histories and identity formations of Muslims and Sikhs in South Asia but at a moment of such intolerance, hatred and targeting of Muslims specifically, maybe actions and words of solidarity should take precedence.

The rush to ally with power rather than to fight it is not my idea of bravery. The concept of bravery is something Sikhs grow up with as a fundamental part of their identity as moral warriors and protectors of rights. However, the rush to ally with power, is the consequence of another colonial maxim.  Divide and Rule.

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