Paki-Gate

harry.jpgPrince Harry has been roundly criticized for using the term “Paki” in refering to another miliary cadet and for suggesting that another cadet looked like a “raghead.” To his credit, he has apologized.

What’s been interesting to me about this subject, first, is the discussion of whether Prince Harry deserves a pass. In a BBC article, Sunny Hundal, a Sikh, rightfully recognizes that the Prince’s casual use of “raghead” is troublesome. But, Hundal dismisses the attention paid to Prince Harry’s blunder as simple youthful indiscretion: “He’s a young person messing around and all the rest of it. Young kids say stupid things,” he said in the same BBC piece.

Sure Prince Harry is relatively young, but he is a public figure; more specifically, he is royalty who has had a fine education and upbringing, who has been on notice for years and years that what he does and says will be scrutinized and examined by the people. He should especially know this after his costume gaffe, in which he wore a Nazi uniform to a party. The mistakes of youth may explain some things, but Prince Harry is no ordinary person; nor is he so young that we can discount everything he says or does.

The other aspect of this story that piqued my interest is the apology offered by Prince Harry with respect to the “raghead” comment. On this point, a royal spokesman said, “Prince Harry used the term ‘raghead’ to mean Taliban or Iraqi insurgent.”

This apology totally misses the boat — the concern is not whether Prince Harry “meant” to apply the term to a certain group (even if the group is terrorists or horrible elements of our society); rather the concern is that the term itself is inherently inappropriate because it is used to brand and insult anyone that wears a headdress, including an Arab or a Sikh. In other words, using “raghead” does not suddenly become okay if it is correctly targeted. When it comes to this particular word, context does not matter — it is only used in a derogatory fashion, unlike other charged terms, like the “n-word”.

I hope Prince Harry learns his lesson and removes “raghead” from his vocabulary. I also hope he — or his staff — won’t come up with such lame explanations when and if he commits the next faux pas.


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4 Responses to “Paki-Gate”

  1. amanda says:

    Finally, an intelligent, insightful look at the real issue. Thank you!

  2. amanda says:

    Finally, an intelligent, insightful look at the real issue. Thank you!

  3. Roop Dhillon says:

    Paki in uk refers to Muslims mainly, then sikhs and hindus as well…it is at its worst a racist term and aghead is definately Anti sikhs

  4. Roop Dhillon says:

    Paki in uk refers to Muslims mainly, then sikhs and hindus as well…it is at its worst a racist term and aghead is definately Anti sikhs