The Big Bang Theory Says "Check Your Privilege!"
"You're upset about Emily and you're Indian. I need to make you chai tea. Now, I have all the ingredients except cardamom seeds. Do you happen to have any on you? Sorry, I left them in my turban. Oh, I'll make English breakfast tea. They destroyed your culture. That's close enough." ~ Sheldon
Wow. "[The English] destroyed [Indian] culture" Just wow...
I mean, sure, it's a funny line. I'll admit it got a small laugh for me (a big compliment with this show). But it also really pisses me off.
In case you were wondering, yes, I am white; yes, I am male; and yes, I am mostly of British ancestry. Oh, and I'm Protestant. Basically, I'm the WASP-iest WASP who ever WASPed on God's green earth. I'm who the persecuted [insert any non-white, male, Christian group here] tell to "Check your privilege".
I recognize that The Big Bang Theory is ostensibly a comedy, but I think that this joke is supposed to be funny because it's true. I beg to differ.
Did the English change Indian culture? Certainly. Was some of it bad change? I'm not an expert, but I'll grant that some of the change was probably not helpful. That being said...
The caste system. In a democratic society that values the equality of all, I can't imagine anyone saying that the caste system is a good thing - especially since that system forced a large segment of the population [Untouchables] into extreme poverty and ignoring those poor masses was considered necessary, good, and proper. It doesn't take a liberal professor to dislike the way Indian society treated the Untouchables pre-Britain. (Yes, Untouchables are still oppressed, but their situation has improved since the British and beyond)
We could also talk about the Hindu practice of the wife jumping on the funeral pyre of her husband upon his death (Sati). The English banned this practice. Any feminists out there want to defend this practice?
Let's not forget the infrastructure improvements as well as bringing the language of global commerce to India which combined with their large population could make India an economic superpower (if they could get out of their own way). The British are responsible for that (other than the population) too. Maybe the WASPs weren't all that bad...