Thursday, January 20, 2011

Similarities between the offensive " Eeenie meenie minee moe " phrase and the derogatory ' Pariah ' word found in the Interlok Novel


"Eenie meenie miny moe; catch the nigger by his toe; if he screams, let him go; eenie, meenie miny moe". 

The nursery rhyme you hear now is quite different from the original. Now it is
"Eeenie meenie minee moe
catch the tiger by its toe
if it hollers, let it go
eenie meenie mineee moe"

But once it was

"Eeenie meenie minee moe
catch the nigger by his toe
if him hollers, let him go
eenie meenie mineee moe

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie's all-time bestseller, too, is no longer called Ten Little Niggers like it was in 1939. Nowadays it's either Ten Little Indians or And Then There Were None. So what happened to the two n-words in the nursery rhyme and book title?

Why did Mahatma Gandhi coin the word "harijan" — meaning a child of Hari dedicated to Vishnu; a person of God as a neutrally inclusive expression to replace chamaar, bhangi, dome and other so-called untouchables? The answer's easy.

The Untouchables


Like the blacks, coloured folk or people of African-American origin in the United States, such alleged outcastes were treated like pariahs in Indian society and isolated in their own communities. To the extent that even their shadows were shunned by the "upper" castes.

Not too long ago , organizers of a junior school stage production in England of the popular children's story the Three Little Pigs came face to face with the same issue.

They feared the pigs part could hurt the sentiments of Muslims. Changing it to Three Little Puppies, like they did initially, may sound like bending over backwards beyond all reason but the decision was born of the same sentiment: that a language's grammatical categories shape its speakers' ideas and actions.

The objective is to bring peoples' involuntary biases into consciousness. This allows them to more informed choices about their language while making them aware of things different people might find offensive.

And the reason for this is both historical and contemporary. For a long time a whole lot of people have had their rights, prospects or independence constrained owing simply to their being grouped as constituents of a class with a perceived derogatory stereotype.

This categorization is then doubly compounded by the easy availability of labelling terminology. Political correctness may be in disfavor at present, but respecting the responses and reactions of different members of a multicultural society — whether in Malaysia or elsewhere  —  is not.

Parti Warisan Sabah janganlah Sampai dilabel ' Ibarat Melukut Di Tepi Gantang '

"Berputar pada sentimen kenegerian seperti yang hangat digempar gemburkan pucuk pimpinan parti secara idealnya dilepaskan pada ...