Progress in Dark TimesTagged:
Times are dark, but sometimes there are glimmers of progress.
Ok, what progress?
When I was a kid – we’re talking long ago here – the concept of a Black president would have been unthinkable. A woman even more so.
We haven’t exactly solved racism in the US, but at least we’re better than we were a lifetime ago in my semi-rural origins. As evidence, consider this news picture:
- Center right: US Vice President Kamala Harris. She is the first woman in that position. Her mother was a Tamil biologist, and her father is a Jamaican economics professor; both emigrated to the US. So Harris is both Indian and Afro-Caribbean.
- Right: Harris’s husband, Douglas Emhoff. He is both the first husband and the first Jewish spouse of a US Vice President. He was a director of a law firm and a distinguished visiting professor at the Georgetown University Law Center.
- Center left: Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar. As the son of a doctor from Bombay, is is of partial Indian descent.
- Left: Matt Barrett, husband of Varadkar and a doctor at Mater Misericordiae University Hospital.
So we have an Indian/Afro-Caribbean American woman, a Jewish American man, an Indian Irish man, and his same-sex Irish husband. I guess we have made progress, especially since this photo was not considered remarkable enough to be front-page news.
Interestingly, people have remarked upon the resemblance between Doug Emhoff and Leo Varadkar, as shown here. Don’t they look like brothers? Perhaps even twins separated at birth? I think they look even more alike in the foursome picture above.
The Weekend Conclusion
Ok, we have made lots of progress since the days of my childhood.
But it’s (a) not enough, and (b) something we have to fight to keep, given the revenant nihilism and fascism on the right.
Addendum 2023-Mar-29: Partions of India and the UK
I think it was Charlie Stross who pointed out a couple of days ago that Ireland, Scotland, and Britain are now all led by Prime Ministers of South Asian descent (i.e., near ancestors from India and Pakistan). Fact-checking that, we find CNN in agreement :
- Humza Yousaf, of Pakstani descent, is the Prime Minister of Scotland.
- Leo Varadkar, of Indian descent, is the Prime Minister of Ireland.
- Rishi Sunak, of descent from a Hindu family in East Africa, is the Prime Minister of Britain.
Now that Brexit is grinding hard in Britain, talk of Scottish independence is rising again. It makes some sense, as England is reliably further right-wing than Scotland, and Scotland wants to be part of the European Union.
The irony here runs deep:
- At the end of the British Raj in the mid-20th century, Brits presided over the partition of India into modern-day India, Pakistan, and what eventually became Bangladesh.
- Now in the early-mid 21st century if Scotland wants independence to join the EU (or Northern Ireland wants to join the EU by joining Ireland), then it will be people of Indian and Pakistani descent presiding over the partion of the United Kingdom.
Justice doesn’t get any more poetic than that, even if the judge were to be WB Yeats.
I wonder if Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi newspapers will spell schadenfreude correctly?
Notes & References
1: R Mogul, “‘Historic moment’: Politicians of South Asian descent set to lead Scotland, Britain and Ireland with Yousaf victory”, CNN, 2023-Mar-28. ↩
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