This is real too. But many of the people I work with do not know it.

This is real too. But many of the people I work with do not know it.

Very Troubling. Very troubling.

Liberals’ deeply entrenched status quo.

Last night, I went to a meeting at our member-serviced coop. This is a place where educated and moderately well-to-do liberals shop high-quality groceries at a reasonably discounted price. You work a few hours every month to keep the costs down. They have monthly open meetings for members, where decisions are made in a democratic way. Or, that’s what we would want to think.

We’ve been members for a number of years, and found it to be a viable, alternative food and environment-friendly model, away from the supermarkets and national chains. Their foods have also visibly improved our health over the years. True! Their fruits and vegetables are mostly organic or at least chemical-free, a lot of it comes from local farmers, and they totally reject Monsanto or other GMO products. Definitely, for middle-class people like us, it’s been a blessing.

Yet, slowly we are realizing the problems they have, and *in some cases* this realization is not too much different from my long experience working with my labor union, or the immigrant advocacy groups. In the coming months leading up to the 2016 elections, I’ll write more about it.

But briefly, here’s a list of things we’ve noticed that are of great worry.

(1) Out of some 16,000 members at the coop, perhaps only a hundred or two show up at these important, decision-making monthly meetings, vis-a-vis our labor union meetings where a similarly small percent shows up. The others do not care.

(2) Only about 5-10% vote at important organizational elections where they elect officers for the next few years. Again, exactly the same percent I see at our 30,000-strong labor union. If ten percent vote, that’s a high turnout. The others — non-voters– happily take advantage of all the benefits, but do not participate. In case of the food coop, they must work two and a half hours every four weeks, and they put in the time. And that’s about it. Practically nobody knows nobody. 

(3) Critically important decisions often seem to be pre-determined, and meeting proceedings are conducted in a way so that status quo prevails. Meeting chairs often use biased calls during the proceeding, but they are careful not to flout Roberts Rule transparently. Yet, to the politically savvy, the bias is loud and clear.

(4) Censorship happens in a subtle way when members voice strong dissent on policy matters. Their media subtly use their power to exclude serious voices of dissent. And most members do not care to speak or write in the first place.

This is real too. But New York Times won't tell you.

This is real too. But New York Times won’t tell you. Madison, Wisconsin.

If this is how a so-called “liberal” or “progressive” or “democratic” organization (I’m using this coop as an example) functions, where almost all the members are educated and well-to-do, who overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic Party, then I have every reason to worry how they will vote in the coming elections.

Whether it’s my union where most are middle class or lower middle class workers and their families, or whether it’s this food coop where most are either affluent or upper middle class, they are decidedly pro-status quo. That means, in 2016, they will overwhelmingly vote for Hillary Clinton, and not Bernie Sanders or other lesser-known candidates.

One group (i.e., labor unions) would vote for Hillary because they don’t know who Bernie Sanders is, and believe Hillary is at least a “lesser evil” than anti-union Republicans. They are right from their perspective, an illusory perspective big media have created for them.

In case of the food coop, a small minority of the educated voters will vote for Bernie, and I know some will vote for the Green Party. But a large majority will vote for Hillary because they do not want to disrupt the status quo. The status quo has kept them happy. They are wealthy or at least better privileged than most other Americans with their own houses, higher education, shares on the stock markets, and other assets. They are also ideologically affiliated with a global economic and foreign policy that have worked well for their class for a very long time. They would not want to rock that boat.

You can call me a naysayer, and you can call me a party pooper, but this is my experience: real, raw and rough. And it’s fresh memory too.

I hope you read this post twice, with an open mind.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee (and my Wikipedia page)

Brooklyn, New York

P.S. — I am going to attend the nationwide mobilization meeting Bernie Sanders is holding tonight.

###

This is real too. But New York Times and CNN won't tell you.

This is real too. But New York Times and CNN won’t tell you.

A comparison New York Times or CNN won't do.

Comparison New York Times, NPR, NBC or CNN won’t do.

I do hope you read it.

Here on Long Island where I come to teach my labor union workshop, this is a cross section of heartland America. Here, you can see the Stars and Stripes flying around every street corner, and you can see churches at every five blocks. Here, they have practically no public transportation, and people with three or four members in the family drive large SUV’s. They have almost no MacDonald’s, and no Burger Kings or KFC. This is suburban America. Here, people believe the American Dream still exists.

My class is largely a Democratic Party constituency. Out of my 1,500 union colleagues I teach every year, most of whom come by rotation, I bet 1,400 will vote Democratic.

So, we’ve been indirectly having this conversation about various candidates: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Most of them know Hillary is the same-old wine in a newly-packaged bottle. They know she’s been a flip-flop on many critically important issues, and she has been a spokesperson for the 1%. They know she will say anything to get elected.

But most will vote for her, because they truly believe she is a lesser evil than the Republicans, and is a big-name candidate who can win. Teacher’s union AFT has already endorsed her — without any open debate. It is possible AFL-CIO will also endorse her, although surprisingly, it has delayed its decision today.

To these union members, Republicans are anti-union and pro-big-corporation (they are right), and they hate people like Scott Walker or his ilk of union busters. They laugh at Donald Trump’s hate speech against immigrants.

Now, thanks to our classes over the years, many of them also know about Bill Clinton’s destructive NAFTA, his overturning of Glass-Stegall Act (a measure that destroyed the age-old separation between private banks and investment banks), and they also know Hillary Clinton’s long association with Wal-Mart, and her secretive position on TPP.

They have reluctantly accepted that even though these two big parties are flip sides of the same coin, they have no choice but to find the so-called “lesser evil,” every four years.

They know how Goldman Sachs and J. P. Morgan Chase are taking advantage of a weak Obama administration, looting America, and they know how GE, Exxon and Apple are not paying taxes. Some of them who came to my classes all these years also know about IMF, World Bank, Greece, Iceland, Bangladesh, India, Union Carbide, and Monsanto. These are well-informed people with serious political commitment. They participate in phone banking during elections.

Yet, many of them do not know who Bernie Sanders is, or what he has done to try to overturn Citizens United. They don’t know that what he has done in Vermont could be a pragmatic, futuristic model for tomorrow’s America. They don’t know that his proposed socioeconomic platform is not outlandish or far left. They don’t know he is not going to take their guns away.

Yet, some of them know about Elizabeth Warren and her progressive politics, but they also believe she will not run against Hillary Clinton.

This lack of knowledge about viable, strong alternatives has happened because of what I keep calling “Journalism of Exclusion.” Not just the New York Times, NBC, PBS, NPR or CNN, even the so-called lefty media such as MSNBC or The Nation are, in all likelihood, going to take a pro-Hillary position, effectively excluding Bernie Sanders from any possible democratic discussions or debates.

**There will be no debate on mainstream media — on real bread and butter issues.** This is my fear.

If my Bernie Sanders friends think I am being negative or pessimistic, you can hate me. My absence from this scenario will not change anything. Your life, and my life, will go on.

But hopefully, you will not hate what I have to say here. In America, I have a non-Judeo-Christian name, and I am a first-generation immigrant with no money or pedigree. But I bring in decades of political organizing experience, from the two biggest democracies in the world. I have worked with thousands of political activists, and I have worked on American and Indian elections all my life.

I know what I am talking about.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee (Wikipedia link)

Brooklyn, New York

###

History in America is now history! Nobody cares about it. (Just like India.)

History in America is now history! Nobody cares about it. (Just like India.)

An Immigrant’s Isolation

Posted: July 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

People who have not been in an immigrant’s shoes do not understand how difficult isolation can be.

Isolation from his family and friends he left back in his home country. Or, her country. His or her. But because I’m using me as an example of this emotional void, I’ll use “his” in this short outburst. In fact, isolation — when it hits — becomes so excruciating that you do not want to do anything. You do not want to write. You do not want to talk. You do not want to go out and have some fresh air, which could help make you feel better.

It’s a very deep depression you carry with you throughout the journey as an immigrant. You carry it for the rest of your life in the land that you adopted. You thought your life will be better, and perhaps it has been better for some material purposes: money, education, pleasures of life.

But deep down, you are living an unfathomable void. You feel it more when you are in pain. You even feel it when you are celebrating. Because in both cases, you want to share it with others. But there are no others. It’s a complete void. You are cut off from your own kind of society and civilization.

You are trying your best to be a part of the new civilization. You are trying hard. But you can’t do it.

You just can’t do it.

On various occasions, I compared my immigrant’s isolation with the time when Neil Armstrong was dropped on the moon. The way he saw the vast, huge mass of land — dark, empty, lifeless. He broke down emotionally. He fought insanity coming back to earth. But in my case, I can’t even go back to my earth. An immigrant is stuck on the moon forever.

And his spaceship dropped him off, and left. It will not return.

I guess, most people do not understand it. They would not understand it. You don’t feel it unless you have a sensitive mind. You don’t feel it if you do not long for your kind of people. You do not feel the pain if you do not want to share it with others. You do not feel the joy if you do not feel any need to share it with others who love you and care for you.

I do not feel like writing anymore. I am just happy that today, I was able to write this much.

Otherwise, this huge, empty, lifeless new world would devour me to death, quickly.

I am alive. And I am doing a lot of work. Some people say I am doing a lot of good work.

Maybe, I am.

But…who really understands an immigrant’s isolation?

Isolation of an immigrant who can’t deal with a total lack of society.

It’s no different from Neil Armstrong dropped on the moon.

Okay, that’s enough. Life will go on.

Sincerely,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

Life as I saw it. Raw. Rough. Real.

Life as I saw it. Raw. Rough. Real.

This is a short memoir about a long memoir.

I’m writing it now because otherwise, I will never write it no more. Like, if you don’t do it, would you ever do it?

I mean…you know what I mean. Like they say about relationships, “It’s complicated.” My developing relationship with my memoir is kinda complicated.

When I first started writing my non-celebrity autobiography, I didn’t know much about it. I mean, about my biography. Why write it? Why not leave it alone? Who’s is gonna read it? Like, what have you got so special in your fifty-some years of non-millionaire’s life that people would actually spend a few hours of their time to know who you are, and who you are not?

Why would they care?

Like, okay, you are a first-generation immigrant from a poor, Brahmin family in Calcutta. So what? Ain’t everybody in Calcutta poor? What’s the big deal? Like, didn’t we see City of Joy, or Slumdog Millionaire? Okay, Slumdog wasn’t Calcutta. But isn’t Calcutta even more Goddamnpoor? And you were not even that poor. Like, you never starved or anything. You never lived in a slum. You never didn’t not go to school. You didn’t do no drugs or gangs and stuff.

Okay, so you’re gonna tell us another rags to riches story? Don’t we have enough already? And what’s this nonsense about Brahmin and poor? Brahmins are the uppermost caste in that wretched caste system, ain’t it? Brahmins and poor?

Gimme a break!

These are questions I imagined people here in America would ask me, or for that matter, I thought, today’s young, Americanized people would ask even from Calcutta, Bombay, Bangalore or Bangladesh. So, after I wrote about sixty or seventy percent of my memoir in English, I stopped. I played up my impoverished childhood, and I played up my beautiful childhood. I played up my violent young adulthood in a violent political turmoil in Calcutta with bombs and murders and rapes and stuff, and I played up my fascinating, almost spiritual young adulthood in Calcutta, oh God, with surreal descriptions of monsoon rain and Diwali firecrackers and all-night train rides and wildflower collections and cricket matches. I played up my mother’s painful death of cancer when she was forty two, and I played up my love affairs with beautiful Bengali girls — a few real and most others imaginary — and even included dream sequences lush with lovemaking, as if in anticipation of someone like Ron Howard or Miyazaki would snatch it from the Union Square Barnes and Noble immediately after it was put out on sale.

Ah well. Too much expectation. Too little reality. After I had the first couple of chapters professionally edited — ready to go to publishers and literary agents — I stopped. And then it dawned upon me that perhaps I should write in a language that is more lucid to me than lexicography. And I began writing in Bengali. Bangla, that is. And it got picked up immediately by an online literary magazine, and lo and ho ho ho, each 3,000-word episode got 2,000 hits! It was a memorable memorabilia.

Facebook friends even sent in confidential kisses.

So, after all, people do want to read it. That was my realization.

My father is now 91 years old. She was 54 when mother died.

My father is now 91 years old. He was 54 when mother died.

And now it’s all ready to come out as a book. The publishers are even showing interest to hold a press conference in Calcutta, and guess what, a session of selected readings from some of the chapters I wrote. Like, they’re going to make me famous. Rich…well we’ll see. But famous…I shall take it even at two o’clock in the morning…in my dreams or not.

Writing from your heart helps. Blood, sweat and tears trickle from your pen…I mean…the friction point between your fingertips and keyboard squares. Love, passion and honest, no-sugarcoating, no-glossover tales still matter to most people. This is my new, gratifying realization.

There’s gonna be a time, not too long after, when people will stop reading. Just the same way people have stopped writing letters. Love letters. Letters to your favorite sister. Letter to your best friend. Like, those letters I wrote when I first came to America thirty years ago — in August of 1985. When I felt like I was Neil Armstrong dropped on the moon: a vast, barren, empty, gray place where you’re completely alone. Completely alone. I wrote my letters then as if a forever-exiled prisoner writing his script, and putting it carefully in a stoppered bottle, and floating it away, adrift on the turbulent sea, hoping that some day, it will surely reach those people you left behind forever — people who loved you and never wanted you to leave. Words came from the deepest places in my heart, and words came as if God was sending his message through your lips. I knew I was being honest.

I knew I was being honest, when I wrote my memoir. I knew I was being totally naked in front of my God.

I knew I was doing it, perhaps for the first time in my life.

Sincerely Yours,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

I was perhaps sixteen then.

I was perhaps fifteen or sixteen then.

My wife Mukti and me, on Long Island.

My wife Mukti and me, relaxing on Long Island.

This is a very personal story. But this is not just a personal story.

When we left India thirty years ago with a full scholarship to do a Ph.D. in America, some of our own friends and relatives thought it was a fluke. They said, “But they were never stellar students: look at their exam results. It sounds fishy.”

Some of them said, “Look, Partha did so poorly in college and university that he couldn’t even find a job in Calcutta. He ended up teaching in a God-forsaken place in a no-name college in the forests of Sundarbans.” They said, “And, suddenly, he is in America, to do a Ph.D. in science? Come on, gimme a break!”

So, when we were struggling as new immigrants in USA and going through poverty and extreme isolation, building a new life from scratch, practically nobody cared to know how we were. Then, our hard work and determination paid off: I did a Ph.D. in plant biology from Southern Illinois University, and my wife learned molecular biology and became an indispensable worker in her lab.

But these friends and relatives still didn’t care to know how we did it. So, when I switched career from science to humanities at the age of forty, and did a journalism masters from Columbia University, and my wife switched her career to start Mukti’s Kitchen here in New York City, they said, “See, I told you. They are not doing well, and therefore doing anything they can to make ends meet. See, in thirty years in USA, they should have been millionaires. But look where they are now.” And others who listened to them, nodded in agreement. Nobody even bothered to ask what our side of the story was.

Mukti's Kitchen was invited to teach at Union Square, New York.

Mukti’s Kitchen was invited to teach at Union Square, New York.

Even today, when we go to India perhaps once or twice a year, we see a look of rejection on their faces — look that tells us they have kept the same feeling of not trusting that the way we built and lived our lives in America — from zero — is worthy of anything. They don’t want to learn from us, because to them, success is only measured by how much money you’ve made, and nothing else.

This is not about our acceptance in America. This is about acceptance by some of our own people in India. We have worked hard, and made it a point to be accepted and recognized here in the U.S. My wife’s Indian cooking class has countless five-star reviews, and my students and followers have now put together a Wikipedia page on my work. Mukti is now a board member at Brooklyn For Peace.

We are both happy, and humbled.

And never I write anything only to tell my personal story, even though I title it in a way so that people actually read what I write. It is about new immigrants like me, and like my wife. And we are doing quite well in America, and we are privileged. Millions of other immigrants are going through a very difficult time, in spite of their talents, honesty and hard work. Mainstream media and the people in power do not know, and do not care to know about their poverty, isolation and misery.

Do we care how some people back in India or some friends here in America treat us? Hell, no! Then, why am I writing about it? So that others like me and my wife can relate to it, and form a wavelength of togetherness. That is really my goal: to reach out and touch as many like-minded men and women as possible. To tell them that we are all in this together. We are members of the same family.

We know each other. We care for each other.

My story is not only my story. I give up my ownership on it. Now, it’s your story too.

Sincerely Yours,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

##

Just this weekend, they video recorded my entire labor workshop.

Just this weekend, they video recorded my entire labor workshop.

They were cheated, and lost all their money.

They were cheated, and lost all their money.

I hope you read it with some patience. Let me know what you think. Please read the first paragraph, and then please read the background of the story. Thank you.

Yesterday, a well known film actress and political leader in Calcutta, and I actually like her guts too, even though I do not support her political party, said, “jara agency niyechhilo,, jara taka logni koechhilo tara sobai soman oporadhi,,, tahole tara atyohotya korle sympathy paabe keno?” — Which means, her question is, people who took agency of the scam fund, and those who committed suicide because they invested [and lost everything] — they are all equally guilty, and why should they get any sympathy at all?

I was very surprised and puzzled to read this statement from her. I didn’t understand the logic she made.

Background:

If I steal money, and then return it because the theft is now exposed and I have no place to hide and I need to save my rear end from going to jail, is that going to absolve me from my crime?

Bollywood star Mithun Chakraborty returned one crore rupees to Enforcement Directorate, years after the Saradha scam was exposed.

Bollywood star Mithun Chakraborty returned one crore rupees to Enforcement Directorate, years after the Saradha scam was exposed.

Mithun Chakraborty, a Bollywood star, now returned millions of dollars he took from a hugely scandalous small-investment scam called Saradha Chit Fund.

Here in the U.S., North American Bengali Conference (NABC) people took crores from Saradha (the Las Vegas conference was primarily sponsored by it), but they never disclosed the amount. I wrote articles about it, and they were very unhappy.

Now, if and in case they return the money, would that going to absolve them from the wrongdoing? Whether it’s Mithun Chakraborty the Bollywood star or NABC or other criminals some of whom are in jail now, crimes must have legal repercussions. And these crimes robbed millions of poor people, and some of them killed themselves too.

Bigger Picture:

Big media personalities, celebrities, and their lies. — Judith Miller forged fake WMD stories for New York Times, validating an Iraq genocide. She is now working for Fox.

Brian Williams of NBC (owned by GE) thought he flew on a combat helicopter, and reported fake news. Today, he is given a new, different appointment with NBC and MSNBC.

George Stephanopoulos forgot that he gave $75,000 to Clinton Foundation, and reported pro-Clinton stories on ABC (owned by Disney), and blasted anti-Clinton politicians.

Kathie Lee Gifford thought she didn’t know her brand-name clothes were manufactured in Wal-Mart sweatshops around the world.

In India, we have known cases involving big media personalities and their breach of ethics and law.

But they are all working, all making millions, and continuing to do their “shows” on national and international networks.

A Bollywood film star Mithun got millions from a small-investment scam that ripped off countless poor people, driving some of them to commit suicide. He is now returning the money (he said he didn’t know), and already supporters are manufacturing public sentiments in his favor.

Amitabh Bachchan long advertised for MSG-laced noodles, and got millions. He said he didn’t know what was in the product.

Amir Khan of Bollywood is a national spokesperson for Coke in India.

Then, we have John Stossel-type journalists who openly twist news in favor of pro-Monsanto, anti-environment corporations, and blast any dissent as “radical” and “communist” propaganda.

Yet, most people do not know much about them, or their criminal activities. People are made to believe either they are above the law, or their crimes are not really crimes; they are only minor professional errors.

And the rich and powerful and their celebrities and their class are actively downplaying their wrongful acts.

It is very, very difficult to deal with ignorance of the havenots. But it is even more difficult to deal with active compliance of the educated and wealthy — compliance with crimes.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

###

She validated the Iraq genocide with her WMD stories in New York Times.

She validated the Iraq genocide with her WMD stories in New York Times.

Jon Stewart thinks Sanders is a better candidate. He was serious this time.

Jon Stewart thinks Sanders is a better candidate. He is serious this time.

Is Bernie Sanders only a long shot? Or, could he actually win?

Here is my two outsider cents, in case anybody out there in his campaign really cares.

Now, who the heck is Bernie Sanders, and what is he trying to win?

Bernie Sanders is an independent-leaning politician here in the U.S., and he calls himself a democratic socialist. He has joined the fray of the Democratic Party presidential primaries — an election that will decide who will become the party’s candidate for the 2016 elections. He is fighting against a massive, billion-dollar campaign of Hillary Clinton. By default, Sanders is fighting against the Goliath, and he is not even David. We can call him david, with a small d. But Sanders has built a huge grassroots support across the country, especially from young-generation political, social and environmental activists. Sanders also has a long and successful administrative record in his state of Vermont.

Scott Walker and his union-busting politics have found praise in New York Times, and Walker could be a possible Republican candidate, perhaps a running mate with Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush, younger brother of George W. Bush, has just announced his candidacy for the Republican Party’s primaries.

Of course, New York Times is anti-union, but most people do not know it. Scott Walker’s violent union-busting tactics, funded by Koch Brothers’ millions, gave the American 1% another arsenal. Media have largely sided with what Walker did in Wisconsin, by excluding important, balanced economic discussions and globalized politics of IMF, World Bank, G-8 and Wall Street.

IMO, there is very little difference between the Republicans and Hillary Clinton.

IMO, there is very little difference between the Republicans and Hillary Clinton.

People who are working on the Bernie Sanders team are, I am sure, aware of how critical labor union support will be in 2016. But, challenges are hard, fierce and vicious.

Media is one challenge: CNN, NBC, ABC, WSJ, Fox. Radio talk shows. Most ordinary people do not understand alternative media. Koch Brothers and Clinton Foundation, Obama Foundation, and big, multinational corporations that supported their pro-TPP congressmen and congresswomen are challenges with billions of dollars to spend — secretly, thanks to Citizens United. Heritage Foundation and ALEC.

Pro-Hillary news from around the world is another challenge in this globalized society. NOW (National Organization for the Women, a liberal and elite organization) is a big Hillary block with money and influence. Gloria Steinems will only want a woman to be the president of the United States, without any discussion on what kind of woman she is, and what she stands for.

Yet, one of the biggest challenges will come from within the American 99%, and from within the middle-class and poor societies: particularly blacks, Latinos, Chinese and Indians.

I have kept my ears to the ground: I work with labor unions and immigrants. Blacks and Latinos together are nearly 25% of U.S. population, and Indians and Chinese together make another 5%. Plus, Indian white collar have money, and they will give to Hillary. Money will come from corporations around the world, without having to disclose their identity. And it’s very likely that money will decide 2016.

***
UNLESS
 there is an unprecedented bridge building across the moderate left and right. IMHO, that must happen, or Bernie Sanders has no chance. Let us forget the left-right-socialist-capitalist divide, and bring the 99% together.

Again, I am sure people who are working on the Sanders campaign team are aware of all of the above. I just thought I should reiterate it, from a small, outsider point of view.

If Bernie Sanders can make it a step towards a positive, pro-equality, pro-99% honest change, he has a chance to win. If he tries to make it an overambitious revolution, he will lose. That is the trap media will lay out for him.

Thanks for listening.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

###

Build that Bridge, Bernie!

Build that Bridge, Bernie!

Archipelago

The Land of Diversity? Or, the Islands of Diversity?

Ferguson, Baltimore, Staten Island, Texas, Trayvon Martin…

Racism is not only about whites hating blacks. Although American police’s out-of-control brutality often violates blacks. But racist oppression is happening against new immigrants: Latinos, Muslims, Sikhs, Chinese, Arabs, Africans, and all other ethnic groups and colors.

One strong common denominator is class. Barack Obama and his family would not be brutalized by police. Beyoncé or Kanye West would not be touched. J. Lo and Eva Longoria would be spared. But a poor, powerless man, woman or child — from any minority race or color is target of violence.

And ironically, many of these acts or hate or bigotry come from within the minority community.

This happened recently, many years after 9/11. The attacker said,

This happened recently, many years after 9/11. The attacker said, “I don’t like those people.”

Just the other day, an Hispanic man beat up an 82-year-old Sikh grandfather, because the man said, “I don’t like those people.” An Hispanic woman pushed to death Sunando Sen, a Bengali Hindu immigrant, on the NYC subway track because she said, “I hate those people.”

Even after fourteen years of 9/11, America has not grown up.

The people in power do not have any public education program to teach diversity, peace and tolerance. They do not care about the pervasive climate of mistrust, hate and racism. They will keep using stop-gap measures, shoot and kill some, put some in private prisons, and deport some more. Obama has deported millions already.

America is not the land of diversity. It is an archipelago of diversity. Diverse people live on diverse islands, and there is no cross-cultural understanding.

This is not an abstract observation. I have seen it for many years here in America, especially since I worked as a grassroots community organizer at an immigrant advocacy group.

Sincerely,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

Sunando Sen, a Bengali Hindu immigrant from India was pushed on to the subway track by an Hispanic woman. She yelled,

Sunando Sen, a Bengali Hindu immigrant from India was pushed on to the subway track to death by an Hispanic woman. She yelled, “I hate those people.”

How low can you go?

How low can you go?

Recently, I had a very difficult experience on Facebook.

“The lowlife scums and trolls like you…” — This is what she wrote about me. This was just the beginning of her many messages, followed by even nastier words from her sister in-law. I unfriended and blocked both of them from my friend’s list. They are now gone from my life, forever.

She threw major hate, as well as personal insults. I’m sorry I didn’t know her state of mind before. In fact, I didn’t know her at all. I do not have time or energy to deal with such toxicity back and forth. But I’ve saved all her messages for future use.

She was angry not because I ever wrote anything personally insulting or demeaning to her (I never do it), but she thought she represented the 1% and that I was championing the 99% with facts and force. In a way, I am happy I got to know her kind. These people exist, and they can harm you, or affect your sanity.

The intensity of her vitriol was shocking. Never seen anything like it in my seven or eight years on Facebook. 

Facebook etc. have given us permission to be harsh, arrogant, crude, obnoxious, filthy, demeaning, and hateful. Anything goes. There is no pause for civility. There is no self-monitoring. There is no filtering. Someone who was your friend yesterday suddenly decides they don’t like you anymore, and therefore, can insult you in front of your loved ones, friends, students, supporters, and well wishers. Even though you have never used a single disrespectful, personally hurtful word against them.

Of course, you can think about them twice, and unfriend or block them, but the words have already been said, and seen by thousands of people. They have made you sick, and you didn’t plan on being sick because of insults from sick people you didn’t know were sick.

I mean, really sick.

When people personally insult you on a public forum like Facebook, and post hate messages, what are they trying to do? They are trying to dampen your spirit, and create an environment that makes your friends, family, students and well wishers doubt about your worth.

Most would not want to get into this sort of verbal violence. It’s no different than throwing bombs or shooting guns on the street so that everybody stays at home.

Their hate was shocking. 

Reporting in sadness and hurt,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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Anything goes?

This message was not written to me. This is just an example I got from the web. 

Produce from local farms. Except for the fruits.

Produce from local farms. Except for the fruits.

It’s all about food, health and the environment. And the life we live.

Most people here in the U.S. have no idea what good food really means. Those who can’t afford high-quality food eat MacDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut. Farmer’s markets, mostly, are too expensive for the poor.

The food industry has used big media to promote junk food, and kept people in dark about health and the environment. They tell you french fries, potato chips and Big Macs are actually good for you. They tell you KFC’s buckets of un-skinned chicken are good for you. They tell you Coke and Pepsi and Mountain Dew are healthy drinks.

I’ve been boycotting McDonald’s for ten years now. Have been boycotting other junk foods and drinks too. I am very happy I have.

But even those who can afford good food and are educated enough to know about the pluses and minuses go to eat at places where they never disclose their marketing source. Very likely, even hip NYC or SF restaurants are using Monsanto and ADM, i.e., toxic vegetables, meat or fish. India and its younger-generation people have caught on, only to follow the illiterate side of America (and ignoring the educated, modern side).

I post a few photos here I took from India in February and March this year to show you what good-quality vegetables, fish and sweets really mean. My wife used these veggies and fish to cook at home, and regardless of my bias, I can tell you this is what good food really means.

Please do not fall for media trap. Your health and your children’s health, as well as our environment, are at grave risk. Grave risk. Sharing with Mukti’s Kitchen, a place in New York where you can learn how to cook healthy Indian.

Ethical disclosure: Mukti is my wife :-)

Sincerely, as always,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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Harvest from local pond. Scaled at home.

Harvest from local pond. Scaled at home.