The Mays: Noble diplomats or self-important racists?

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 14, 2014 03:48 hrs

Wayne May , the US diplomat expelled in a tit-for-tat move by the Indian government after the expulsion of Devyani Khobragade from the United States, was officially removed simply because he was of the same rank as Khobragade.

However, it is an open secret that the one of the more actual reasons for the expulsion was the help the diplomat gave to get the family of the maid, whom Khobragade was accused of under-paying, shipped to the US under special visas meant for trafficking victims.

The family of the maid had worked in the US embassy in Delhi for several years and was presumably close to Wayne May.

While some have taken this to mean that Wayne May was possibly a good Samaritan who was overwhelmed with the need to help innocent lower class Indians being 'oppressed' by their upper class masters, Wayne's own behavior and comments on social media sites gives a strange, almost opposite, world-view.

The diplomat's Facebook account was accessed and screen shots of various posts were put up a few days earlier on a Tumblr blog called 'Racist American Diplomats'.  

It appears to reveal a circle of friends and co-workers, who, at the best of times, were suffering culture shock and at the worst of times, were blatantly racist – mocking local traditions, gods, the people, the tea and practically everything they laid their eyes on.

A common thread underlying nearly all the posts was the lament that they, and others posted in areas like Afghanistan, were not posted in richer, Western countries, but instead had to suffer various indignities, real or imagined, in third world countries.

Some of the comments and complaints are ones that all Indians will heartily agree with – dirty roads, bad infrastructure, the crowds, the stares at women etc. And most of the complaining appears to be done by Wayne's wife, Alicia, and some friends.

However it does make an interesting read into the mindset of those who are, at least in theory, here to increase and help ties between India and the United States. cannot verify the authenticity of the screen shots. Wayne May's actual Facebook and other social media pages have been cleansed of photos and comments since the Tumblr blog began to gain notice.

Some samples -

The most eye-catching post was in reaction to an Indian textbook claiming that meat-eaters 'steal, fight and turn to violence and sex crimes'. While the text book, an example of saffron creeping into education, was undoubtedly wrong, and kicked up a huge row when it was discovered, the story apparently was taken very personally by Alicia May.

Not only did she share the story, she went on clarify that in India – a 'bizarre' place, most of the raping was done by vegetarians. She also defended her own vegetarian friends by adding a clause that this rule only applied to Indian vegetarians, not Western ones.

One more post begins innocently enough, with a picture of the diplomat's dog seated beside an Indian gardener. But one of their friends was quick to point out that the dog looked bigger than the man, and was probably better fed as well.

Alicia May rejoined that the dog certainly weighs more than the man, since the dog gets 'a bit more protein' in its diet.

It would seem the diplomats, once in India, could not resist from in indulging in some happy stereotyping, with one of their first photos being of cows on the road under the caption “Welcome to India.”

The comments on the photo do not help either, with many mocking Indian beliefs that hold cows sacred and farce warnings to not eat the 'sacred cow'.

Another thread begins with Alicia May commenting on her red nail polish, and then spirals into questions about whether it was nail polish or 'betel nut spit' before finally ending in a mock against the Hindu god Shiva, who, in spite of being installed around a park, could not apparently stop a crow from attacking a squirrel.

A strange complaint was Alicia May and her friends dislike of tea. In a post about a visit to a local mosque, where they were served tea as a courtesy, the banter revolved around how all the tea they were served in India was undrinkable and 'rancid' but they had to suffer through it for appearances' sake.

There are several more – some of which a legitimate complaints and others which is just light-hearted banter of the sort we all engage in a foreign and strange land.

But the overall picture it portrays is quite strange indeed.

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