This thread isn't really about the suspects arrested in Ottawa earlier this week on terrorism charges. I'm starting this thread because I've been party to relatively little discussion about the actual name of this investigation that the RCMP has dubbed "Project Samosa."
When I was in high school (come to think of it, in the mid-90s, in suburban Ottawa, possibly with some of the same RCMP investigators who worked on this case) the word samosa was often used interchangeably with other derogatory slurs such as paki, towelhead, raghead, sand n*****, etc. The nation/culture of origin itself of the targetted individual(s) wasn't important. They were used as synonyms that both informed and reflected the ignorance of their user.
I'm thinking that the origin story for the name may have been benign. Perhaps on the day of the project's genesis, a junior officer had picked up a sack of the snacks for his team in the Byward Market at the Indian Cafe (highly recommended, BTW). Those of us who have toiled on writing stories, composing music, or even programming software are familiar with working titles. Often it's the first thing we see on our desk. I can't fathom how many times I've typed "g++ -O coffee.C -o coffee" into a console at 3 am. These placeholder names that we give our work can change before publication, but in some cases they're appropriate and they stick.
Still, it raises a few questions for me.
Was the RCMP unaware of the possible negative associations with the name of the operation and the fact they were investigating people of Pakistani and Indian origin?
If the title was intentional, do members of the RCMP, and more specifically, the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, see people of colour, regardless of national, religious, or racial background, as a homogenous group?
Are there other operations internal to the RCMP based on what is, either directly or indirectly a racial epithet? Is Project Samosa a "working title" or was that the final name of the project for public consumption? If the latter, which department was responsible for the naming decision? Was it from within the detachment, or was it from a higher-level communications department within the force? Was a ministerial autorization received and approved at the federal level?
The whole thing just seems PR stupid to me. It hints towards casual racism or just plain insensitivity. If it was done as a tongue-in-cheek joke it does nothing except undermine the seriousness of the investigation and also speaks volumes of the force's opinion of the Canadian public.
It all leaves a bad taste in my mouth, which really isn't something I want associated with one of the world's most perfect foods. I understand that the officers are proud of their hard work and want something catchy for the media but I can't help but think that this isn't the way to go about it.