Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Narcissism at the Sonagi Consortium

Following on this post about the loony tendencies of many members of immigrant communities is a post at The Sonagi Consortium about the same topic. The politics of diasporic communities are almost as asinine as those of student communities. Leaving aside the common thread where criticism, especially by an outsider, is largely forbidden, you have the pet issues, the nationalism with its hyphens and the strange phenomenon where immigrants cling to an image of a country that has since changed vastly.

For example, my family left Pakistan in 1994. Until recently, we still thought everything there costs what it did then, and that there had been no development in technology or culture. The introduction of Western fast food restaurants as well as technology, namely cell phone service that's better and cheaper than what we have here in Canada, were too much for us to comprehend.

Hyphenated nationalities are an abomination. Legally speaking, I am a Pakistani-Canadian in the sense that I am (to the best of my knowledge) a citizen of both countries. But I only describe myself as Pakistani as shorthand for "born in Pakistan". Having avoided the sweaty, side-parted hair and fully buttoned-up shirts that are part and parcel of life in Pakistan, not to mention loving Canada, it would be both lying and tremendously ungrateful for me to say something along the lines of "I'm really Pakistani, there's no such thing as being Canadian anyway."

Many first and second-generation immigrants do think like that, identifying more with the place where they or their parents were born. Those people, frankly, should be sent back to the countries with which they really identify, or at the very least stripped of their Canadian citizenship. There's nothing more obnoxious than someone who was either born here or has spent most of their life here, but then derides the very country that lets them live a comfortable middle-class existence in favour of some paradise like Pakistan, China or Sri Lanka.

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