Mark Reads ‘Jingo’: Part 3

In the third part of Jingo, the possible war with Klatch has set everyone on edge. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Trigger Warning: For extensive talk of racism and xenophobia.


Nobby and Colon

It’s not often helpful to say that all racists are fools or are “stupid” because the truth is that racism is so insidious and pervasive, it can hide within anyone, smart or not. Racism is not about intelligence. (Though there’s a link between who is considered intelligent or not. SURPRISE, RACE IS A FACTOR IN THAT.) I wanted to state that before I spoke about what Sergeant Colon does here because I didn’t want to give off the idea that I believed this.

But oh gods, Colon’s logic is downright ridiculous, and there’s a certain kind of racist who is just as hilariously terrible at arguing as Colon is. They are some of the only people I’ll discuss “controversial” issues with because at the very least, I can be entertained by their ignorance. And really, that’s the whole point: Pratchett wrote Colon as ignorant to point out how this kind of stereotyping passes on:

Sergeant Colon had had a broad education. He’d been to the School of My Dad Always Said, the College of It Stands to Reason, and was now a postgraduate student at the University of What Some Bloke In the Pub Told Me.

That’s not me or Pratchett suggesting that actually college should be mandatory or that you can’t be smart or knowledgeable without a degree. COLLEGE DROPOUT HERE, I THINK I’VE FAIRED PRETTY WELL. But there’s a willful ignorance at work here. As Nobby openly contradicts Colon’s absurd statements, he doesn’t take a moment to reflect on why he’s wrong; he just changes his tactic and maintains the same bigoted nonsense. I don’t feel the need to quote everything he says here, but I understood the point Pratchett was making. Look how quick Colon is to contradict himself. First, Klatchians are cowards who can’t handle the superior battle skills of Ankh-Morporkians, and then they’re savages who always strike first. Alcohol is a bad thing that the Klatchians invented, until Nobby points out that alcohol is pretty awesome.

Ah, the hypocrisy of racists. When I’m not actually hurt by it, it provides me with endless amusement.

“You can’t trust ’em, like I said. And they burp hugely after meals.”

“Well… so do you, sarge.”

“Yes, but I don’t pretend it’s polite, Nobby.”

“Well, it’s certainly a good job there’s you around to explain things, sarge,” said Nobby.

Yes, there’s an obvious joke to be made of this kind of double standard. But Pratchett’s provided an example of how bigotry can be passed from person-to-person without it ever seeming like that was the intent. Colon refused to be challenged on his ideas, and he passed them on to someone else. That’s pretty disturbing, no?

Letters Home

I just wanted to state again that I missed Carrot’s letters.

The New Watch

In the face of so much racial and national tension, the Watch has become a bit of an example, hasn’t it? I’ve been thinking about how odd that is because I find myself politically at odds with law enforcement and their role within the State. And yet here’s a book where the only force that’s actually attempting to break with stereotypes and injustice is a police force. Perhaps that’s an idealization on the part of Pratchett, or maybe that’s just my lens on it. I mean, it’s not like the British police force is wholly innocent of the sort of brutality that an American would assume of law enforcement, but this is also a fantasy police force that has a history of being so ignored that they couldn’t act out police violence if they wanted to because they’d be laughed out of the city.

So the Watch exists in this weird space of a power fantasy and a jarring absurdist reality, and THAT FASCINATES ME. Plus, once you factor in the reality of Vimes’s changing perceptions of people unlike him, it’s made even more complicated. In this book, Vimes wholly accepts Angua as part of the core team on the Watch, but he most certainly didn’t when she was first introduced. I see a cycle taking place: some new species or person joins the Watch, Vimes gets all “Old Man Yells At Cloud” about it, then realizes that he’s wrong, and he begrudgingly accepts them. But only begrudgingly because he doesn’t want to come off as actually nice because that would ruin his cool exterior.

In the context of Jingo, however, the acceptance in the Watch flies in the face of the uncomfortable and potentially violent atmosphere in Ankh-Morpork. A large portion of the city is ready to reject those unlike them. And look, I don’t think that will just be Klatchian folks. How long until other people are assumed to be Klatchian just for being brown? Having different customs? Religions? Speaking different languages? One thing leads to another in these situations! That’s usually the case.

Which makes me worry a great deal about Ossie Brunt. With one assassination – even if he is not on either side of this fight himself – he can set off a dangerous and terrifying war. The social climate is already primed for this sort of thing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone took advantage of that. Ossie is behind on rent, so did someone pay him to assassinate the politician from Klatch?

It really is the clam before the storm. Poor clam.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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