Are Prince Harry’s ‘Paki’ remarks blown out of proportion?

January 13, 2009 in Uncategorized by pacejmiller

 

I’m not usually one to comment on news items, but I felt compelled to bring this one up.

The ‘Paki’ remark

Prince Harry caused another media storm a couple of days ago when a video of him referring to a member of his platoon as “our little Paki friend” became public.  (See the following link for the video and news article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/theroyalfamily/4216808/Prince-Harrys-Paki-comments-completely-unacceptable-says-David-Cameron.html)

The comments have been widely condemned, with words such as “completely unacceptable” to “sickening” used to describe them.  One column even suggested that the remark could harm British recruitment of ethnic people. 

prince-harryNot the first controversy

Harry is no stranger to controversy, having been reported to have engaged in underage drinking, smoking weed, excessive partying, and who could forget – the infamous fancy-dress costume bearing a Nazi swastika.

Were the comments blown out of proportion?

When I first came across this news item, I really didn’t think it would cause such huge headlines.  Maybe it has something to do with the world’s obsession with the British royals, especially since the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

However, are people being too harsh on Harry this time?  I think so.  I am not Pakistani, but it’s difficult to imagine that such an off-the-cuff, private remark between members of the same platoon made 3 years ago (when he was just 21), would deter British citizens of Pakistani descent to join the army.  To me that just smells like another typical overreaction stemming from our overly sensitive, insanely politically correct society today.

I’m not saying that such remarks are acceptable, but his words clearly need to be put into context.  The way in which he used the term was not intended to be offensive towards his fellow soldier.  If anything, the context appears to be somewhat light-hearted.  I have a lot of friends from India who refer to themselves as “Curries”.  Such a term may be considered racist if used in a derogatory sense, but if I used the term to refer to one of my friends, either to another Indian friend or even a non-Indian friend within the same circle of friends, they would never consider it to be offensive in any way.  Rather, it conveys the opposite; a reflection of my closeness to them, an indication that I consider myself good enough friends with them to use the term they use to describe themselves.  Of course, I would never use the term to describe a stranger or to use it in front of people I barely know.  But to another friend who understands the context, that’s a whole different story.