An Open Letter to Karl Stefanovic

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An Indian migrant, responds to Karl Stefanovic’s apology

The apology you offered today in response to your un-educated ridicule of the ‘Indian Community’ on-air yesterday, is even more insulting. An apology has to be heart-felt, genuine, and un-conditional. And frankly, yours is simply unacceptable. What you offered today was a mere ‘justification’. To use a more ‘Australian’ term for your benefit, ‘you just ticked a box, mate’ (perhaps under duress from your employer).
You want the Indian Community to accept your “ugly utterings” as mere ‘banter’ courtesy your ‘wayward, misguided sense of humour’? Well, there is another term that best describes a ‘wayward, misguided sense of humour’ – it’s called ‘insanity’. And you can only be cured of ‘insanity’ if you seek help. And for your sake I hope you are onto it.
As you must have guessed by now, I affiliate myself to the Australian Indian Community. I am sure that by now you would have been duly educated about the various achievements of the Indian community within Australia. So I will not delve into that. I am going to endeavour to educate you a bit more on being a ‘migrant’.
I, and quite of number of my friends within this Indian community, arrived in Australia as ‘Migrants’, almost 15 years ago. As lawful, skilled migrants. We owe most of what we have today to this wonderful country called “Australia”. And let me tell you, we never take any of it for granted.
However, our beginnings were pretty humble. And yes, for me and most of my fellow migrant friends, it involved doing odd jobs to get started in a new land. We drove taxis. Some of us worked in gas stations (Seven Eleven’s included). Others cleaned dishes, laboured in factories, drove trucks, courier vans, and so on.
But we all worked. And worked damn hard. And always with a smile. No job was ‘big’ or ‘small’. Everything was an ‘opportunity’. And today when we look back at those days we call them “character building” – a term not easy to affiliate with easily when you grow up on a culture of “entitlements” bestowed upon you.
If we ever lost work or faced a redundancy we went around looking other work. Any work. Perhaps a few extra shifts at a “Seven Eleven’. And not line up in Centrelink queues. We take pride in earning an honest day’s living. And working for it. We take pride in the fact that we contribute back to the nation that accepted us with open arms and offered wonderful new opportunities.
And yes, we can take a joke. And banter as well. But there is always a fine line with these things. It’s ok to nudge that fine line occasionally. But, in your case, you breached that line yesterday. You sit in that studio with a responsibility to quell societal stereotypes and distinctions and not to promote them or sell them as being ‘funny’. Please do not offer humour, banter, or any other ‘casual’ occurrence as an excuse. The hurt and insult must be judged from the perception of the person or community facing that ‘funny banter’. The ‘idiot’ dishing it out is not the benchmark.
If you feel this letter is a bit of an over-reaction, then good for you, because your remarks made me feel livid. I thought of not reacting to your slurs but you know another good thing that living in Australia has taught me – one must stand up and speak for things that one feels are not right.
So it would have been pretty “un-Australian” of me to not voice my concerns about.

Sanam Sharma
Sanam Sharma
A typical middle class guy who is abundantly opinionated, moderately flawed, and adequately grounded

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