Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Another Rant About the Native Press: Feb 4 1886

Another rant in the Civil & Military Gazette about the "Native Press." February 4, 1886

The challenge in this particular rant is that it doesn't name exactly what's provoked it. As best I can guess, someone in the native press has gotten upset about something said about them in an English journal.

Near the beginning of the column, it's strange to see references to the Ilbert Bill and Lord Ripon -- this was a controversy that dates to the spring of 1883, so I'm surprised that it's still a 'current' point of reference even in 1886.

Interesting to see the complain that the Indian community "made a race question of it." Of course, the Ilbert Bill controversy was entirely about race -- but it's only a "race question" when the subordinate community complains. This kind of logic is still very much with us today. A black person in the U.S. has to be very cautious playing the "race card," but conservatives are only too happy to complain of "reverse racism" at the slightest pretext.

The real payoff (if it can be called that ) near the end of the column. Here we finally get a bit more of what provoked these comments.

"The Englishman enjoys humour, even directed against himself -- witness the reception in England of Max O'Rell's work 'John Bull and his Island." Even the travesty of himself which appears in the Indian Marionette Show (Kut Putli Natch) is rather enjoyed than otherwise. [...] We admit and deplore that, of late, some English journals have been provoked by the tone of the native Press, and that fair banter has occasionally degenerated into rudeness."

Again, one is very curious as to what exactly is at the root of this. 

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