While I am completely behind Tun Dr. Mahathir in terms the honourable etymology of the term Keling, I have personally felt it used against me in the derogatory fashion. This apology from Tun should have come as soon as the Tun was put on notice, instead of his initial and rather archaic defense of his use of the term. Indeed, the history of the term since the 1960’s makes it clear that some if not most Indians would take offence. I stress that in-spite of my commentary, I am not offended. I have even used the term candidly in my own works – Telinga Keling, Taubat Keling, with even more Keling works to come! So thanks Dr M … No hard feelings!
Please listen to the radio conversation between Charles Adler of CKNW and Globe and Mail journalist Margaret Wente (linked here ) on the underpinnings of the present debate on the Omar Khadr settlement (if you can bear to), and then ask yourselves dear Canadians, if there is much between us and our neighbours down south. That this broadcast was aired on the CKNW radio station owned by media giant Corus Entertainment which is in turn controlled (85%) by the Shaw family which also controls(78%) Shaw Communications, is in itself a matter worthy of discussion, but that is another story …
I have to declare that, I for one, find in the Canadian government’s apology and settlement in the Omar Khadr case a source of great satisfaction. I am happy that the Canadian judiciary acts independently of the executive and that it does relatively well in defining and upholding what I would call deep Canadian values. By ‘deep’ I mean values that transcend the racist idea that the norms of this land reflect the cultural proclivities of certain dominant groups. I am writing of more fundamental values that all Canadians might equally subscribe to – the values that ensure a proper level of protection, responsibility and accountability from the Canadian state for all Canadians. The significance of the executive’s acknowledgement of the likelihood of our Judiciary upholding Khadr’s Charter Rights is in effect the judicial entrenchment of the states obligation to protect all of us – immigrants, natives and yes the old time settlers too, against the excesses and abuses of other states, however powerful or purportedly allied to our own.
While the right to this protection of young Omar Khadr seems, from the tenor of this radio broadcast, to be beyond the ken of many in this nation, I would like to remind everyone that the present case serves to delineate the protections afforded Canadian citizen, particularly children, whatever the complexion of their actions or of their skins. Whether the present executive did right in settling Khadr’s civil suit, as I am convinced they did, is as much a question of fiscal responsibility based on an evaluation of legal outcomes, as it is a question of ethics – the proper determination and honest acknowledgement of executive malfeasance. Both of these questions are, of course, debatable. However, this prime time radio conversation does not begin to unearth and explore this debate … what it does instead is patently pander to certain sentiments in the Canadian audience and more pertinently, in the Canadian Polity. The fact that this show is is able to remain on air reflects, and reflects upon, the conscience and consciousness of our citizenry, or on the moral and political proclivities of those who control our media, or on both!