Monday, March 1, 2010

Punjab Finance Minister Wants a Punjabi Ku Klux Klan

March 1, 2010. Punjabi University, Patiala.

The second day of the Conference on Transnational Punjabi Literature and Culture: Challenges and Opportunities organised by the well-meaning World Punjabi Centre and Sahitya Akademi.

The young Finance Minister of Punjab, Manpreet Singh Badal walks in without the spectacular paraphernalia of gun-wielding security men.

The calls made by all and sundry for nurturing Punjabi language move him deeply. And therefore, as he rises to speak, he is at his oratorical best. And most irrational. He unspools anecdote after anecdote to lace his very sincere speech. The climax comes with a call to the Punjabis to take a leaf from Ku Klux Klan, the American far right hate group which, in the Hon'ble Minister's judgement, showed enviable commitment to the threatened white supremacy. The Punjabis could form a society like the KKK, he innocently opines, to secure the supremacy of Punjabi.

But he could just be using a metaphor, you may say. I agree. I agree because I honestly feel that he is an honourable man and that he probably did not know the implications of his statement.

However, can a man in his position use metaphors so indiscreetly and indiscriminately?

Did he ignorantly invoke the KKK? Should he not have been more careful at a time when Punjab is almost daily faced with eruptions of violence and disorder seriously endangering the law and order situation? Should a law graduate from London (as the conference was informed) be so poor in his reading of history and yet wear his dangerous ignorance on his sleeve?

Or was he really testing the knowledge, the historical sense and the liberal political values of "the most eminent of all audiences"?

I do not know.

I just know that I who studied in Government schools knew as a child that Ku Klux Klan was an organization committed to savage violence and that it preached hatred of humanity.

I thought the Finance Minister knew better. After all, he had better schooling.

Or is he trying to import the right-wing ethnic politics of 'Maharashtra for Only Marathis'?

Either he is extremely naive, or extremely "intelligent". Or maybe just too unsuspecting, unwary and good to be in politics.


I really do not know.



The following is an extract from the Wikipedia entry on Ku Klux Klan:

Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as The Klan, is the name of several past and present far right hate groups[2] in the United States whose avowed purpose is to protect the rights and further the interests of white Americans by violence and intimidation. The first such organizations originated in the Southern states and eventually grew to national scope. They developed iconic white costumes consisting of robes, masks, and conical hats. The KKK has a record of using terrorism,[3][4] violence, and lynching to murder and oppress African Americans, Jews and other minorities and to intimidate and oppose Roman Catholics and labor unions.

Today, a large majority of sources consider the Klan to be a "subversive or terrorist organization".[5][6][7][8] In 1999, the city council of Charleston, South Carolina passed a resolution declaring the Klan to be a terrorist organization.[9] A similar effort was made in 2004 when a professor at the University of Louisville began a campaign to have the Klan declared a terrorist organization so it could be banned from campus.[10] In April 1997, FBI agents arrested four members of the True Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Dallas for conspiracy to commit robbery and to blow up a natural gas processing plant.[11]

The first Klan was founded in 1865 by Tennessee veterans of the Confederate Army. Klan groups spread throughout the South. The Klan's purpose was to restore white supremacy in the aftermath of the American Civil War. The Klan resisted Reconstruction by assaulting, murdering and intimidating freedmen and white progressives within the Republican Party. In 1870 and 1871 the federal government passed the Force Acts, which were used to prosecute Klan crimes. Prosecution of Klan crimes and enforcement of the Force Acts suppressed Klan activity. In 1874 and later, however, newly organized and openly active paramilitary organizations such as the White League and the Red Shirts started a fresh round of violence aimed at suppressing Republican voting and running Republicans out of office. These contributed to white conservative Democrats regaining political power in the Southern states in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1915, the second Klan was founded. It grew rapidly in a period of postwar social tensions, where industrialization in the North attracted numerous waves of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and the Great Migration of Southern blacks and whites. The second KKK preached racism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Communism, nativism, and anti-Semitism. Some local groups took part in lynchings, attacks on private houses, and carried out other violent activities. The Klan committed most of its murders and acts of violence in the South, which had a tradition of lawlessness.[12]

The second Klan was a formal fraternal organization, with a national and state structure. At its peak in the mid-1920s, the organization included about 15% of the nation's eligible population, approximately 4–5 million men.[13] Internal divisions and external opposition brought about a sharp decline in membership, which had dropped to about 30,000 by 1930. The Klan's popularity fell further during the Great Depression and World War II.[14]

The name Ku Klux Klan has since been used by many independent groups opposing the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. During this period, they often forged alliances with Southern police departments, as in Birmingham, Alabama; or with governor's offices, as with George Wallace of Alabama.[15] Several members of KKK groups were convicted of murder in the deaths of civil rights workers and children in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham[16], the assassination of NAACP organizer Medgar Evers[17], and the murder of three civil rights workers.[18] Today, researchers estimate that there may be approximately 150 Klan chapters[19] with 5,000[7]–8,000 members nationwide.


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13 comments:

asad zaidi said...

Pu Punx Plan / punj punx plan.

Sent from my iPod

anuradha ghosh said...

so much for ethnic and regional resurgence and a much lauded salad bowl nationalism where the universals are lost with myopic visions of the particular. the enabling politics of postmodernism is a good recipe for frogs who live in wells and deny that the oceans might exist outside.

Dr Joga Singh said...

We should give him the benefit of doubt, particularly because he is poorly schooled compared with you. Also, he has no G. Bal with him.

jaypee said...

i was there in the seminar but missed Manpreet Badal's speech. His KKK remark is shocking indeed but what i find more shocking is how later everybody around was eulogising him. noone even seemed to have noticed that he said that.

Daljit said...

Manpreet Badal manifested intellectual bankruptcy of Punjab. Dr. Joga Singh's comment is blank refusal to get out of this mess as these (Phd.) Doctors are beneficiaries of it.

Badri Raina said...

"in 1927, i think, Nehru made that profound statement: the communalism of the minority is precisely what it sets out to be--communalism; but the communalism of the majority poses not as communalism but as 'nationalism';
here we have another instance of the quality of danger Nehru underscores--when the lunatic fringe speaks we know it for what it is--the lunatic fringe; but when the mask of sanity drops at the centre, we get to see how much more dangerous are those who share fringe atavisms but occupy the constitutional centre-stage."

Amandeep said...

his statement is absolutely and dirtily political......they think everywhere the listeners are illiterate, or say lacking knowledge of things like KKk........but there are people around who don't just read between the lines but also listen between the lines.......

shruti said...

comments or no comments..its as simple as it gets..
if the presents talks and flaunts its incomplete knowledge like this..the future will have little options left..

Anonymous said...

Coming from the FM of Punjab, a man known for being sensitive to language, the KKK comment is rather unfortunate. If this comment had come from someone like Bal, Udhav or Raj Thackeray, one could have easily dismissed it as another of one of the tricks of the rabble rousing demagogues. But coming from our FM who is always very careful with his words, it does not sound only insensitive; perhaps it goes to prove that our FM was carried away a little by his penchant for playing to the gallery and that he lost sight of the import of his words. I was present at the Seminar and I found that the FMs speech was high on rhetoric but he did not touch upon any issue of relevance to the Punjabi society today; neither the issue of unemployment, nor of agrarian unrest. In fact, the entire speech was peppered with "jumlas" and "kissas". One wished the FM had tried to lay bare his vision statement, after all he was speaking to academicians and intellectuals.

Anonymous said...

I heard the FM speak in a college fuction in Bathinda a few days ago and was really impressed by his sincerity. But even a sincere person has to realise the implications of what he is saying. The worst enemy of peace and democracy in India today is parochialism and narrow-minded pride in one's own culture or language that sees every one else as an enemy. Good you raised this issue.
paramjit ramana

Joga Singh said...

Dear Daljit, Mishaps don't happen only on roads. They happen too often in understanding. Please reverse your understanding of my comment and you will get it right. Texts are too subtle a thing to be taken at their face value. Also, since you are very much interested in the benefits I have received, the following information will be very beneficial for you in this context. I have amassed such a huge amount of wealth (through benifits) that I am a proud owner of as luxurious a car as Maruti 800 1990 model which I bought three years back. Also, I own a fully lowned house on a 150 yard plot in an extremely posh colony called Vidya Nagar in front of the Punjabi University. It is so posh that a large number of Punjabi Unversity Sevadars, Drivers and even a number of Patiala Rickshaw Pullers live there. Sincerely, Joga Singh.

Yogesh Snehi said...

Yesterday in Paris I got this opportunity to talk to some terrible tales of illegal migration of Punjabis who opted to move to the France risking their lives and now live in penury, sleeping on roads and parks in the suburbs of the the city. One young 24 year youth have not been employed for the past many days. Settled Indian community does not pay them for the work they do. There are around 3 Punjabi gangs who are in constant conflict with gangs of Afghanis and Iraqis. A matric dropout, when I asked him what will he do and whether he would like to go back to India, he said that he will not have to do something 'BIG'!! He has been in jail several times in past and once spent a year in Jail. One feels sad that what role models Manpreet wants to set for these disgruntled youth who have miserably failed in life.

Yogesh Snehi said...

Yesterday in Paris I got this opportunity to talk to some terrible tales of illegal migration of Punjabis who opted to move to the France risking their lives and now live in penury, sleeping on roads and parks in the suburbs of the the city. One young 24 year youth have not been employed for the past many days. Settled Indian community does not pay them for the work they do. There are around 3 Punjabi gangs who are in constant conflict with gangs of Afghanis and Iraqis. A matric dropout, when I asked him what will he do and whether he would like to go back to India, he said that he will not have to do something 'BIG'!! He has been in jail several times in past and once spent a year in Jail. One feels sad that what role models Manpreet wants to set for these disgruntled youth who have miserably failed in life.