Aug 2, 2006

The New Ghadar?

Saw this article about the Ghadar party and its place as the earliest desi diasporic movements. I thought that it was a pretty good piece, though some of it seemed little more than an exclamation point at the end of a grade school history report. But this paragraph after stating that SAMAR and FOIL's Ghadar could be seen as descendants of the Ghadar publication, killed me:

According to this writer, another recent example is the emergence of a lively "new media" phenomenon on the lines of a 2-year old community blog, known as "Sepiamutiny," where mostly 2nd generation South Asians discuss, dissect, and define issues and news relating to Desis in the diaspora. I call it, "Desi Diaspora's Online Uprising". This virtual mutiny among the Desi community is already embracing the new online digital media including blogs, podcasting, and other social networking tools with a vengeance, partly because the new generation is tired of the same old rehashing in the ethnic print media, run mostly by first generation desis.

As if! Sepia Mutiny is about as far from revolutionary as you can get. It's an echobox of chauvinism that occasions into nationalism when they aren't too busy deconstructing the latest pop culture fetish or fetishization of desi culture. Uprising? In what way? It's a classic example of middle-class boredom and privilege sprouting wings and allowing people to find more of themselves in the process. No thank you. I'll stick to the Ghadar from when people knew there was more at stake than their personal barometers of coolness or feigned disinterest in all things that truly matter. And the true new media Ghadar may be the list servs around the country that invite true, open, safe debate around issues of the day and how the impact our people and our communities. Or some new video-conferencing ability that allows for people to connect and to organize over time and space.

But Sepia Mutiny? Don't make me laugh.


Abhi said...

Don't hate the player. Hate the game.

Abhi said...

By the way Rage, I've always thought that you were a pompous windbag. This entry leaves no doubt of that in my mind.

Please tell us more about what "truly matters." Dude, you are a parody.

Rage said...

Wow Abhi - you've really changed our opinion about you too. But it's all good, man. You're not even in the game.

Rage said...

Oh, and by the way, thanks for reading.

Abhi said...

Rage, what bothers me about what you have written here (and have written in the past) is your attitude. You are one of those types who is always more at home protesting something and trying to tear it down, thereby defining your own position as closer to the truer, purer ideal. You are a "true rebel," right down to your nom de guerre. How dare someone else use the word "mutiny" to describe what they do? Laughable. What they are doing can't be truly productive because it isn't how you would have done it. You would have been so much more mutinous if you ran something like it. If only people knew that!

"It's a classic example of middle-class boredom and privilege sprouting wings and allowing people to find more of themselves in the process."

And what is your blog a classic example of then? How do you define yourself? Don't you see how that sentence just serves to stereotype you as one of those "holier-than-thou leftist types?" I bet you that's the only type of reader you get and you end up learning lots of new holier-than-thou leftist stuff every day.

"And the true new media Ghadar may be the list servs around the country that invite true, open, safe debate around issues of the day and how the impact our people and our communities."

"True, open, safe." All of those are words used by people who want an echo chamber where everyone agrees with them and everyone pats each other on the back to make each other feel safe and positively reinforced. Please. How is our larger community to make an impact of affect a change if we keep learning in your prefered type of environment instead of the REAL world which isn't always true, open, and safe (as if there were such a place). I am firmly a liberal and I can't stand some of the opinions people leave on our site that sometimes stink of jingoism and intolerance. I don't try and hide in a "true, open, and safe" place, I write a post calling them out. Maybe a few lurkers see that my arguments are stonger than those of the jingoes and there is a small ripple effect. Changes come a little at a time, not by shoving them down people's throats which, I get the impression, seems to be your prefered method.

If you want to change the level of discourse in the South Asian American community then change it. That's what I intend to do (partly through SM), regardless of what you think of my/our methods. I am not going to bitch about how other people aren't doing it the way I would have (which you have several times now, and what finally promted me to leave a comment).

Best of luck in fighting the good fight your way. Hopefully we see each other at the opponent's flag pole. That is the only thing that matters.

saurav said...

I am not going to bitch about how other people aren't doing it the way I would have (which you have several times now, and what finally promted me to leave a comment).

You just did.

Rage said...

Dear Abhi,

I don't have the time nor the inclination to get into a d/p/hissing match with you, so let's see if I can stay away from feckless personal attacks and still make my points.

First, it’s remarkable that you think you can peg me so clearly after only meeting briefly once, and reading even less so. I didn’t go to that extreme with you, focusing my criticism broadly on SM as a quasi-entity in the community, rather than sweeping generalizations about your character and motivation. You must have some innate skill. Oh wait, or is this one of your “I know the type” moments?

Second, this is a personal blog, not my preferred method of change. Regardless, I'm not afraid to break bread with people with different opinions than myself. If you did more than skim and run, maybe I wouldn't have to make the painfully obvious point that I don't believe in ramming opinions down peoples’ throats. Your feigned dispassion does not make you more objective, or neutral. Frankly, it makes you pretty boring.

Third, I called attention to the article, because SM is not a "new Ghadar." I don’t even think you don't want to be. It's a group blog on pop culture, and it has been consistent for what it is. It has created a community of sorts, and kudos to you guys for doing what you do, and putting so much time behind it. I don't have that kind of time or commitment for a blog - and I respect the effort. But believe me, I'm not envious, no matter how much you try to paint me into that corner. It’s a familiar defense mechanism: if someone is critical, of course, they must be envious that they don't have what you have. But that's not at all the case - a blog is not how I would choose to spend my energy, though it can be a perfectly fine way to impact change. But that's not really your goal, either, is it?

And therein lies the crux of my occasional criticism: either stay with pop culture and stop pretending that you're something else, or stop skimming the surface in your typical "cut-paste-comment" format and either do something with more depth or get people who have those skills. If you can’t do one or the other, at least stop pretending. And no, this isn’t about some ideal – it is just a gradual recognition that SM fits perfectly within the framework of American mass media: all flash, no substance. I guess you all are the quintessential South Asian American production, if we have to be literal about it.

And SM isn't a personal blog, no matter how much you folks protest when people become critical. But I think you guys have always been quite afraid of criticism, and have a way of lashing back that is: a) usually not proportional, and b) somewhat catty. I don't have an echo chamber on my site. I don't want an echo chamber. But I wonder if this is the pot calling the kettle black. After all, the SM comments section is generally a wonderful tool for your own aggrandizement. When it isn't, and there’s some healthy dialogue that differs from that of the hosts, the comments get closed down (or edited), you all get extremely defensive, and/or a dissenter gets kicked out. I left your baseless comments here – why can’t you do the same when some people call you out on your site? What are you afraid of?

So, you don't agree with what I have written about SM. As you say on SM, this is my site - if you don't like my perspective, just stop reading. That's what I did with SM a few months ago, and you were right. The world kept turning.

One last thing: please don't try to school me on the "real world," abhi. Your only notoriety in the community arises from a virtual space. A space in which you have exhibited the least creative, rhetorical, or analytic skills of any of your colleagues. Not to mention a reputation for throwing hissy fits. If I were you, I would feel more insecure about that than a few critical comments on cyberspace.

Damn. Almost made it.

nefariousdega said...


but the fact that you used the word "feckless" makes it sexier.

linked to this from the pass the roti site, and i empathize...DEEPLY...he came to my blog just after his jingoism post and bitched&moaned for an eternity. for a scientist, he's quite poor at questioning the given or taking criticism isn't he?

Rage said...

nefariousdega: yeah - you'd think someone who puts himself in the public eye and so clearly loves to be looked at would have developed a thicker skin by now. Thanks for reading!