Bigotry Must be Condemned – in India or the United States of America – commentary

Bigotry Must be Condemned – in India or the United States of America

Indian Punchline – by M K Bhadrakumar – [Reflections on Foreign Affairs]

There have been three recent incidents of attacks on Indians in the United States of America  and it remains to be seen whether they are the manifestation of a “new normal”; for a combustible mix is forming in America’s political economy.

The racial bigotry in that country is legion. Even an “African-American” president couldn’t make a difference to the entrenched racial prejudice amongst white people against fellow countrymen with dark skin.

But what makes the current situation particularly dangerous is that there are important people who happen to hold positions of high authority in that country who wear their badge of racial bigotry with pride on their sleeve.  

Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s chief strategist in the White House and a permanent invitee to the National Security Council meetings, can be counted as one of them. The man apparently raved on TV shows repeatedly about a scurrilous novel characterising the archetypal Indian as “shit-eating” and as a “turd-eater”.

When such third-raters and semi-literate fanatics hold powerful positions, and are influencing the USA immigration policies, the loud message going all around in that country is predictable. Unsurprisingly, “Get out of my country” has become a national slogan. It was the rant of murderers who attacked the hapless Indians in the recent incidents.

A certain national mood is building up in the USA and unless and until the best and the brightest stand up and push back at it, the rising tide of racism may surge.

Secondly, there is also an economic dimension to what is happening. The Indian migrants have been on the whole a well-educated class of people and have done relatively well in their adopted country. Their affluence has apparently become an eyesore to the working class white American and to those who have lately dropped out of the middle class in the globalization era, who see the “foreigners” as imposters who have poached into their secure world and caused them and their families much hardship.

Of course, it is an irrational emotion, because globalization is bound to have losers. But it exists in the USA today, and it may become more vociferous and belligerent under a presidency which won the mandate to rule the country by exploiting these very same complexes and socio-economic realities in contemporary American society.

In a manner of speaking, Trump is as awkwardly placed as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been in our country to rein in fundamentalists who happen to be their respective “core constituency”. In the 2020 election, Trump will most certainly adopt similar campaign style that Modi chose in Uttar Pradesh to whip up people’s baser instincts to garner votes.

Succinctly put, a dialectic appears when demagoguery chooses to feed on bigotry.

Trump’s inaugural speech contained disturbing signs of such a phenomenon. In the civil war-like conditions building up within America’s political class in the recent period, state authority and rule of law begin to weaken. We are witnessing an extraordinary spectacle of the CIA undermining Trump and he in turn picking from Barack Obama’s copybook of insurrection to settle scores. Day by day, what began as a farce and a moveable feast to the senses is degenerating into a savage fight with tooth and claw.

Now, in this combustible mix, we also need to factor in that America is traditionally a very violent society. It is an unusual nation which made the cult of violence to vanquish the continent’s original inhabitants into the stuff of folklore. There is easy access to weapons; there is a pervasive gun culture; and there is a track record of people reaching out for their guns at the drop of a hat.

All in all, therefore, Modi must speak up – just as he did with the Australian prime minister. Modi may indeed turn out to be an ineffectual sparrow beating wings in the void. But Trump must nonetheless know we also have feelings and national pride, and we have an alike motto of “India First” in our foreign policy, too. After all, Modi runs a government that takes pride in putting the welfare of Indian Diaspora as above other concerns in the country’s diplomacy.

Of course, all this is putting the American lobby within our elite in a quandary – torn between loyalty to home and second home. They may plead helplessness by taking the easy route that the two Indians who lost their lives were “American citizens”, not Indian passport holders. But that’s sophistry with a capital ‘S’.

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  • demerwater  On March 7, 2017 at 4:34 am

    ” …unless and until the best and the brightest stand up and push back …”
    Like in the Aesop’s tale “Belling the Cat”. Who will go first?

  • Clyde Duncan  On March 7, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Dear Friends,

    Just hours ago, the President of the U.S.A. signed a new Muslim ban that shuts our doors to refugees and targets immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.

    The administration has made tweaks to the original order. But make no mistake: This is #MuslimBan 2.0. The White House’s own policy advisor promised the new ban would “have the same basic policy outcome.”

    I’m heartbroken. But resolved to fight. It will take time to challenge this new ban in the courts. That means we need to turn to Congress. If our representatives receive enough phone calls from us, we can move them to take a strong moral stand. Please call Congress here: 202-224-3121. (Scroll down for sample script)

    This news comes at a moment when hate crimes are at an all-time high. Anytime the government targets and profiles a people for who they are, it emboldens people to act on impulses of racism, bigotry, and violence.

    On Friday night, a Sikh man was shot in his own driveway by a man who said “go back to your own country.” A little more than a week ago, Srinivas Kuchibotla, an Indian American engineer was killed by a man who yelled “get out of my country.”

    And we just received reports of the killing of Harnish Patel, an Indian American in South Carolina. The motive is unknown but in the context of skyrocketing hate against Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Sikhs, our communities are shaken.

    Hate breaks bone and sears flesh. But it also poisons the air we breathe. Right now, thousands of families here in the U.S.A. are having a hard time breathing. They tell me they are canceling camping trips, keeping their kids from school, and afraid to travel.

    Today’s ban just fuels the fire. It makes our country less safe, not more so. Not a single refugee since 9/11 has been convicted of domestic terrorism, nor has any immigrant from the countries targeted by the ban. Instead, the ban endangers refugees fleeing war and persecution, establishes a de-facto religious test for immigrants, and threatens our people and Constitution.

    What can we do? #RevolutionaryLove calls us to see people who are not like us as sisters and brothers – and stand up for them when in harm’s way.

    Here are 3 simple powerful things you can do immediately:

    1. CALL CONGRESS: 202-224-3121. Sample script: “Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent. I don’t require a response. I’m calling to express my strong opposition to the new Muslim ban. Just like the last time, this ban punishes Muslims, immigrants, and refugees for who they are, not anything they have done. It also emboldens hate crimes against Muslims, Sikhs, and so many others. Hate crimes are now at an all-time high. I am calling you to show my love and care for these communities. Please take a strong public stand to protect our people and our Constitution. Thank you.”

    2. REACH OUT. Call or text your neighbours and friends who are Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, or South Asian to tell them that you are troubled by the ban and hate crimes and are here to support them. Ask them what they need. Similarly, you can reach out to people you know in immigrant communities who are reeling from raids and offer your solidarity and support. This is #RevolutionaryLove in practice.

    3. PLAN TO SHOW UP. Nothing is more powerful than showing up in your community. Check out events held around the country this week.

    On Wednesday, we are championing a Day Without a Woman with our partners at the #WomensMarch. You can participate in three ways: do not work, do not buy anything, and/or wear red. Post why you are striking and standing in solidarity using #WomensMarch #NoBanNoWallNoRaids and #RevolutionaryLove.

    Remember to breathe. In labour, we don’t breathe just once and push the rest of the way. We breathe, and push. And breathe. And push. And we do this holding the hand of someone we love. So find your sister or brother or partner or friend today — and be one another’s midwives. We can only do this together. #BreatheAndPush

    In Chardi Kala — ever-rising high spirits,

    Valarie Kaur
    Director, The Revolutionary Love Project
    Founder, Groundswell Movement

    PS. Registration is open for the Revolutionary Love Conference at the end of April. We are co-hosting the conference at Middle Church in NYC with the Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis. The line up includes fellow signatories — Rev. William Barber, Brian McLaren, Rev Jacqui Lewis and myself. It will be an opportunity to think together about the theory and practice of love in our movement.

    Register here:

  • Clyde Duncan  On March 7, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    Dear Friends,

    We know the bigoted language used by then-candidate and now President Trump has real consequences. As a Sikh, I know what it’s like to face hate. A member of our community was shot this past week by a man who yelled, “Go back to your own country!”

    We also know that discriminatory policies have real consequences too. The U.S.A. government’s previous orders (and future promises) on immigration continue to fan the flames of xenophobia; and threats and violence against members of the Muslim and Jewish communities continue today.

    In response to these threats and attacks, my organization, the Sikh Coalition, is teaming up with Auburn to send letters of love and solidarity to our siblings under attack. Will you add your message and commitment to act as an ally for justice for our neighbours?

    We will print and personally deliver these messages to Muslim and Jewish communities. We also invite you to create your own #LoveMyNeighbor letter-writing campaign in solidarity with folks within your own community.

    It is time for us to double down and show our love and support. I hope you will join us by sharing a message of solidarity with your Muslim and Jewish siblings, today.

    In solidarity,

    Simran Jeet Singh and the Sikh Coalition team

    Senior Religion Fellow
    The Sikh Coalition

    Click here to add your message.

  • Clyde Duncan  On March 8, 2017 at 12:20 am

    One politician nailed it ….

    – “the new travel ban is putting lipstick on a pig”, pure and simple.

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