Women in Great Peril

Women in peril 2Women in India are in great peril.

And all of the points I mention below are real, real, and absolutely, positively real. I bet you my life and reputation on their veracity.

1. Social and religious oppression. — All religions are included. All castes. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, non-believers. In recent years, women have been hacked to death by male members of various religions, in various parts of the country.

2. Lifelong non-belonging, and undermining, humiliation, ridicule. — “This is not your home,” the parents say to them. “You belong to your future husband and in laws.” The woman in India grows up hearing this. Then, after marriage, she hears from her in-laws, “You are an outsider. You must be thankful we brought you in.”

Malala
We know her story. But the people in power love the status quo. They just use her for cosmetic changes.

3. Apathy and indifference about their needs, aspirations and talents. — A girl’s academic, musical or even cooking talents are secondary, and almost always undermined. The brother, the husband, and then the son’s careers take priority. Almost always.

4. Parents, teachers, in-laws and even sons and son-in-laws break or steal their freedom. — A woman’s life, time, money, and leisure are all subject to theft, cheating, underpayment, and outright robbing. No questions asked. You are unemployed now? Great! Work to raise your grandson, for free. The first grandson is now in school? Okay, work as nanny for the second one. Or, the third one. Family values, India style.

Women in peril 3
Forced labor. Sacrificing youth. Wages robbed.

5. Husbands and male members of family cheating them of their property, if any, and robbing their earnings. — It is very common that an earning woman — a laborer, a teacher, a musician, or even a village municipality chief will have to surrender all their earnings and wages to the husband or other male members of the family. Even to the mother in law, who is often a big part of the patriarchy. I have many real-life examples. Husband forces wife to sign off her land, home, jewelry, and bank savings. Refusal would result in abuse — including physical violence.

6. And now rape and sexual violence is an epidemic. — In India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, even children are being raped. And it’s happening across the region, and too often. It is now beyond control. Pornography is rampant across India, resulting in more violence and sexual objectification of women. Recently, elected politicians and ministers from various parties in India have been caught watching porn during their legislative sessions.

Fighting back
They are fighting back. They need your help.

7. Dowry-related murders and acid throwing. — They are so common across India, and across religions and societies, that nobody even talks about them anymore the way they used to. As if that is not anymore a subject to discuss. Media also have stopped talking about the grotesque violence in the same pronounced way. Same with female infanticide.

Various, international human rights organizations and the United Nations have published major reports highlighting the grotesque violence and abuse on Indian women. But the people in power — both in India and overseas particularly the United States — have remained silent. Corporate industries and their owned media have often downplayed the situation.

Ban Bollywood
India lifts the porn ban, because the rich and the porn industry pressured the government. In Bangladesh, fanatics kill free thinkers.

If I have one last call out to the world, it’s this: save and support women in India. Nowhere in the history of mankind, half a billion women have been in such great, grievous, systemic danger.

I have written a lot about this subject before. I have spoken a lot. You can always count on my support.

Stop this horrific human rights violation on women.

Urgently, very urgently,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Mother India
Bollywood always lied. This is fake glorification. The reality is horrible, obnoxious.

Porn: A Vicious Drug

fiftyshadesofhedges
India’s porn and B-movies are often lousy in film quality. So, importing American porn and web links is extremely popular.

Pornography is taking over the world, like wildfire in a haystack. It’s killing India, in particular.

[Foreword: India’s conservative government just lifted a ban on porn watching, under pressure from powerful lobbies. Yet, it would not lift a ban on Leslee Udwin’s British documentary on the horrendous Delhi rape that shook India.]

When we were teenagers in Calcutta, we had a couple of friends who would find black and white “yellow” booklets from strange, unknown places. And adolescent we were, we would devour on them. And be very excited.

These were stupid stories of impossible possibilities: a sixteen year-old city boy visits his uncle in a remote village, and suddenly gets sexually involved with a friend of his aunt, or a sister-in-law, etc. Occasionally, the thin booklets printed with horrible, laughable typos would have black and white photos too. Photos stolen from some secretly imported American magazines. Printed lousily.

But in a country like India and in a city like Calcutta with major taboo on sex education, those booklets served their purpose. They aroused us, and made us victims of uncontrolled lust. Those of us who did not have older brothers or sisters to mentor us, and warn us against such illicit carnal desires, had suffered from the greatest impact of pornography.

Our sense of social behaviors and appropriateness dissolved.

We were also terribly afraid of being caught of doing those activities. Getting caught by an elder, or a teacher if we did it in school, would result in major beating and other severe punishment.

mashmedia
Greed for lust. Then, more greed for lust. And then, violence and unlawful activities. Just like drugs.

But not anymore. India has “progressed.” And USA was always hundred miles advanced, when it came to such matters of life. Just like Hollywood took a big role in advancing cinema across the world, America’s underground porn magazines and movies also pioneered through the rest of the world on the dark, unrestricted pleasures of life. India with its zero sex education, has always been a big victim of American blue films.

India has always been a patriarchal country, at least for my lifetime, and Bollywood and Hollywood and hardcore and softcore porn made it worse.

Now, the porn industry is enormous in the two countries I’ve lived all my life — USA and India. In USA, small-town, isolated porn movie theaters gave way to a massive, online market. There are hundreds of websites that one can access — free of charge — to view blue movies. Small clips of two or ten minutes are free for preview. One can then subscribe to the site of their likes, paying with a credit card, just like any other shopping activity. It’s all legal as long as you follow the over-18 age rule, and perhaps some geographical area restrictions. Well, I live in New York City, and here, social permissiveness has taken a new height (or low, depending on your pov) long, long ago. Anything is possible in New York and California.

Porn industry is often riddled with violence, forced prostitution, and drugs. Sometimes, grotesque violence. And women are almost always at the receiving end of all of the above. But because America has long been a socially permissive country, where sexuality is no more a secret subject, and man-woman social togetherness is well established, in my opinion, compared to what is happening in India now, USA’s porn industry has not been able to inflict a direct, bloody wound on young minds to the extent that it creates depravity or a culture of violence and rape on women.

In India, it has.

Sunny Leone
An Indian porn star went “mainstream,” even though she keeps making millions for her non-mainstream jewels. Everybody is okay with it. Media glorifies it.

Indian society is still by far one where open discussion about sex is a taboo. Indian schools are still by far totally devoid of any sex education. In India, men still look at women’s body in an obscene way, completely disregarding any rules of decency or social norms. In a crowded place such as a rush-hour train, bus or market, men would often touch a woman inappropriately, or at least pay dirty looks. I have heard many stories. I have seen some.

Rape and violence on women have reached a new, historic low. And some of it could perhaps be attributed to underground porn. But porn is not even underground anymore. Indian market is now open, and a biggest victim of the neoliberal economy. It has borrowed the American corporate mantra that “if people want it, you will sell it.” And what people want, media and entertainment industry will determine. If pornography is something that helps you to sell more, you shall use it.

No questions asked.

But there is zero accountability for the consequences. If porn makes an entire young generation hooked — to an extent that it must find a way to do porn, the industry will not take responsibility. Every Internet cafe or parlor in India — big cities or small — now has a vast number of young customers that would visit regularly only for porn. I have seen a number of times that the computers in an Internet cafe have history of porn viewing. School kids. College kids. You just sit at the back-row computers, and spend time, watching porn. The shop owner knows. He doesn’t mind, because you are his regular, devoted customer. You are making money on his habit. He knows you are going to return at a particular time when it’s relatively empty. He knows you are going to do it on a regular basis.

Pornstar wealth
Indian media shows how much richest porn stars make. Unthinkable, even ten years ago!

You are hooked. You must do it. It’s just like drugs.

In fact, recent scientific researches have shown that hormones that are responsible for drug and alcohol addiction are either the same or similar to those responsible for sex addiction or gambling addiction.

A National Institute of Health-sponsored Psychiatry article said: “Compulsive sexual behavior, otherwise known as sexual addiction, is an emerging psychiatric disorder that has significant medical and psychiatric consequences.”

But in an uncontrolled corporate market such as India, there is rarely media discussions on the addictive and harmful aspects and impacts of the so-called “adult entertainment.” In fact, major newspapers and TV outlets now regularly feature porn-related stories, and glorify porn stars — both from India and USA — as if there is no reason not to include them as mainstream topics. There is hardly ever any media discourse on the potentially violent or unlawful consequences of this addiction.

Porn industry has billionaire producers, sponsors, and celebrity customers. They keep the industry afloat and prosperous, in the name of personal liberty and freedom.

The vast majority of the society is paying an incredibly heavy price. In case of India, I know for the fact that an entire generation is on a new, often-unknown, vicious drug. Their social behavior and sociability are falling apart.

And just like any other drug, this drug is slowing killing the mind.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Madonna ABP
An Indian daily paper suddenly publishes Madonna’s 1979 nude photos. Why? $$.

India’s Selective Intolerance Cry

Babri 1
Babri Mosque demolition by Hindu fanatics. December 6, 1992.

YES…TRUE…BUT.

December 6 has become an iconic day of protest in India. This day in 1992, Hindu fascists demolished an ancient mosque in a sacred city called Ayodhya, and it resulted in a massive, bloody communal riot, killing thousands of poor people, mostly Muslims.

Liberals — especially Facebook-Whatsapp-type, well-to-do Indians (South Asians) — have always used this day to cry intolerance, and this cry has become louder these days with the fascists and bigots crushing down on free speech and personal freedom such as eating beef in India, or Pork in Pakistan or Bangladesh.

It is true that Hindu fanatics have killed free thinkers in India, and Islamic fanatics killed free thinkers in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Women have become targets of religious zealots in all three “Indian” countries.

Manorama
Indian army rape Manorama in an outcaste state Manipur. Massive, historic protests by women. I don’t believe they have Facebook or Whatsapp.

YET, these liberals do not cry foul when they see enormous violence committed by the army or police, or the richest one percent in India, who live on gold.

In a country where dowry demands kill poor women regularly, Monsanto kills farmers regularly, police and mafia kill dissent regularly, and extreme inequality and poverty kill millions out of hunger, diseases and pollution, this selective cry against intolerance that the affluent liberal cry is anything but honest.

Monsanto
Meanwhile, a few million farmers commit suicide. Here is only one of them. Every thirty minutes, a Monsanto farmer is killing himself in India.

If the ISIS terrorism is real (it IS real), Hindu fanatics’ anti-Muslim, anti-Christian threat is real (it IS real), so is the global one percent’s economic terrorism, and the sold-out politicians’ and media’s political-intellectual-cultural terrorism.

One is immediate and instantly visible; the other is continuous and dark and silent. The silent and dark economic and cultural terror is actually killing millions more than the former.

I keep telling you the real stories that big media — either in India or in the U.S. — won’t tell you. It’s up to you to decide who is telling the truth, and who is not.

I leave that challenge up to you.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Bollywood
One of them owns $600 million. American dollars. The three biggest Indian film stars are btw all Muslim. They cry intolerance?

An Indian Student Speaks American

Morel

Southern Illinois University was truly an oasis.

The quiet. The calm. The time I could hold in my hand, like a large drop of morning dew. The pristine woods and clear lakes. The short winter and insignificant snow. The twenty-minute walk in solitude between Southern Hills and Evergreen Terrace, the two graduate student housing where we lived for a total of four and a half years, and our biology building on campus. My office in Room 401, right next to our mycology lab in Room 403. It seems like just the other day I was there.

This is an America that was mindful, mellow and mild. This America said, “Welcome.”

I felt welcome in the plant biology department. Dr. Walter J. Sundberg, my Ph.D. professor, was in his late fifties. A big, burly man with a Victorian Age beard and eyeglasses with golden frames, strung with a chord around his neck. He was a traditional, old-fashioned biologist who would not want to go beyond his microscope and morphology and anatomy and camera lucida drawing, his fungal forays into the nearby Touch of Nature, Heron Pond and Little Grand Canyon, or occasionally to Milwaukee, Wisconsin or Springfield, Illinois. He came from an old-school San Francisco biology department run by noted classical mycologist Harry Thiers. Walt Sundberg was uneasy to my ideas of including molecular biology and recombinant DNA fingerprinting and ribosomal RNA sequencing and Southern blotting and cladistics and numerical taxonomy — concepts that I picked up at various scientific conferences, and thought in order to get a teaching job those days, I must learn them. I was disheartened that he would not teach me those lessons in his lab.

Sundberg

But he never discouraged me to learn them elsewhere. He sent me to Michigan, Tennessee, and Duke. He sent me to Greg Mueller in Chicago, and Roy Halling in New York, with scholarships. I was his first Ph.D. student, and he embraced me with open arms. He made sure I got an impossible teaching assistantship in my first semester at SIU: in the winter. And a tuition waiver. He made sure other professors noticed me, both in and out of the department. He made sure I learned my biology well, and passed a very challenging, mandatory, comprehensive exam where professors from both within our plant biology department and next-of-kin forestry and such departments put together questions for me. I did not pass the entire exam at the first shot: I passed 70 percent of it. I was angry then. But in hindsight, I think he knew I was going to pass at the second chance, and he put me in close touch with key professors who helped me prepare myself as one of the best students in the department.

I don’t know other than me and my then student colleague Sharon Bartholomew, anybody at SIU biology had to go through that kind of intellectual, academic rigor. It was a matter of pride that I passed and entered the Ph.D. candidacy. I believe Walt precisely wanted that: that I became proud of my abilities and knowledge.

From a very naive foreign student with little critical thinking abilities, in just two years, I metamorphosed into a hardcore graduate student in an American university, who could think, analyze, form theories, and resolve them with experimentation.

Walt Sundberg also made sure I got the best student dissertation award in my final year in the department. Suddenly, I was rich: from a low-end $600-a month earning, my family of three climbed up the American richness ladder to a substantial $1,200-a month no-work-but-your-own-research stipend.

I must mention a few other people before I close this chapter.

gardenofthegods

I could not do whatever I was able to do in that remote, detached corner of the world without the help of Lawrence Matten, our then department chair and a reputed paleobotanist, and bryophyte giants Raymond Stotler and Barbara Stotler. They gave me friendship, collegiality, freedom to question and challenge, and confidence to grow as an individual who could lead. Young, friendly faculty Katie Clark with her warm smile, John Bozzola at the electron microscopy center with his friendship and academic support, Aristotle Pappelis the sole plant pathologist in our department, and Walter Schmidt then graduate student coordinator. World-renowned plant taxonomist Prof. Robert Mohlenbrock somehow liked me, and I was simply blown over to take his class on conservation and biodiversity. Betty Graff the motherly secretary in the department. And many more.

Graduate student colleagues: Alice Long, Ellen Cypher, Dave Carter, Kevin Aikman, Steve Schmidt, Kevin Schuette, Dave Breen, Nadia Navarette, Fabienne La Tortue, Beth Wiltshire, Karen Nash…just a few names that come to mind after so many years. I have lost touch with all of you…where are you, guys? No Facebook?

Walt Sundberg passed away in October. I wish I had a way to return to Carbondale once, and walk that serpentine twenty-minute, leisurely walk between school and Evergreen Terrace where my wife waited for me every evening, and so did my child whose early childhood years were very peaceful and happy in that quietness of Southern Illinois.

I have left science and went on to answer my call for work in human rights, political activism, and writing. But I have not forgotten my peaceful life at SIU. Roaming in the lonely woods behind Evergreen Terrace, looking for Pluteus mushrooms, or a rare species of Amanita or Lepiota…or an exquisite morel…in early afternoon hours on a sunny Sunday…when the entire housing complex was in slumber…

I miss that life a lot.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Southern Hills

An Indian Student in Mississippi Delta

Fisherman MS

I was poor in my student years in America. Like, really poor.

(Tell my Indian relatives and friends, and they would love this new, sexy, mouth-watering topic to gossip.)

Most Americans do not understand how poor immigrant students are. Most Americans do not understand how poor new immigrants are. But foreign students, especially those who are coming from my class, are exceptionally poor because even an undocumented immigrant would find work in the underground economy, but we the American-government-labelled “non-immigrant alien” student wouldn’t, even though we have valid visa and all.

Why not? Because, not just we are legally forbidden to work outside of campus (and our spouses are forbidden to work anywhere), we are also so strapped for time. Plus, we are “highly educated”; therefore, it’s beyond our dignity to work like those God-forsaken “illegal aliens.” Right? And we are not that brave, either. We are happy with whatever little money the university is doling out to us.

Rebellion will be reserved for the havenots. We are the complacent, obedient type. Especially the ones from colonial India and Pakistan. We don’t do revolutions no more.

For twenty required hours a week, a graduate assistant is working in their department for five hundred dollars a month minus taxes, either to teach or help with the professor’s research. The rest of the time, they are studying and doing their own research — in the laboratory or library, and trying to spend time with their families. If they are alone, they are cooking, cleaning, and doing other household chores. Or, chances are, they are trying to fix their old car. Without a car, life is impossible in America, and graduate students almost always have car trouble as they can’t afford a good car. You go to any graduate student housing in a U.S. university, and on a Saturday or Sunday morning you’ll find some Indian, Pakistani, Chinese or African students burying their heads under the propped-up hood of their stalled chariot, with strange fumes coming from strange holes. A seasoned colleague is helping them.

car trouble

Okay.

Yet, life in those greener years was…well…greener. Southern Illinois University was an oasis for our exiled, perched souls. Having had two very difficult years at Illinois State University, one mid-winter morning, my wife, our newborn child and I took a six-hour-long drive in our dilapidated Plymouth Valiant. It was ten degrees below zero in central Illinois, and snow was ten feet high (well, maybe, two feet). Another car followed us on our three hundred mile journey. That was Gordon, an American co-student who volunteered to drive down with us, carrying our mortal and immortal belongings in his car, as Valiant could unceremoniously break down any time on I-57.

We landed in “Mississippi Delta,” Illinois. Gordon had lunch with us, and left. He would drive back up from Carbondale to Normal-Bloomington. And he is not driving a Marcedes, either. Not even a Toyota. He might as well get back before the next snowstorm hit.

Most people outside of America do not know how poor this Mississippi Delta is. I bet most Americans don’t know it, either. It’s an area circling parts of Southern Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee, with the mighty, beautiful river Mississippi raging down the state lines. Here, farming is not great, no prosperous industries are visible, and timber and strip mining are two viable livelihoods. It’s Deep South, with people having a thick, Southern accent. Outside of the academic institutions, there are no jobs. It’s very rural, very conservative, and very cut-off from the rest of the world. No wonder church evangelists would wake us up on Sunday mornings, and insist that we went to their congregations.

Outside of the academia, there is extreme illiteracy. And consequently, extreme poverty, and hopelessness. In small, desolate towns like Ana-Jonesboro or wooded, desolate places like Makanda or Grand Tower, people would sit out all day, and drink booze. I hope I am not being disrespectful about the lifestyle of a place where we lived almost five happy years of our lives. I’m just telling you the truth.

The reason a vast number of American people have become so fiercely anti-immigrant is precisely because of the reason that the ruling class of America — the one percent — have not addressed and solved their economic problems. Whether in USA, Europe or India, ordinary people are taking out their anger on “outsiders” because their jobs and stability are seriously threatened. They don’t understand it’s not the outsiders’ fault; rather, it’s their own rulers who kept failing them. They have failed the outsiders, and they have failed the insiders too.

Well, that’s another story. A very important story, but yet another story.

(to be continued.)

SIUCcampus

 

A Lonely Indian Student in American Midwest

Chicago snowMany people have no idea how I spent my student years in American universities.

Few ever asked. People who I left back in India — relatives, friends, teachers, colleagues, neighbors and their friends who were an integral, routine part of my life — never really wanted to know how life was like over my first ten years in this country. I guess, they all thought America was all golden with money trees to shake, and I was having a swell time.

Nobody knew, or ever cared to know, about the struggles that my little family and I went through. Some of them gossiped that I did a terribly selfish thing to escape India for my own pleasure, leaving my own family and my wife’s family behind. They said when these folks needed us the most, we had deserted them. These gossip mongers never wrote a letter to us, let alone call, to know how we were doing. They imagined everything, nevertheless. And delivered their judgement.

Some of them also said it was a fluke for me to get into an American university with a full scholarship. They questioned what kind of political connection I made through the communist regime in West Bengal, to get accepted to a capitalist country, with a valid immigration, visa, and all.

I’m not making it up. Some actually said I got into an American school only through political connections, and that too, from then Marxist government in Bengal.

The first two years, or two and a half, were probably the most difficult. I came to USA by myself, and one year later, my wife arrived. American universities pay very little to foreign students, if they every pay, and the work they work you is hard. The requirement was that I had to work for twenty hours each week to teach undergrad students, or help the professors with their research, for a very small amount of money.

I remember at Illinois State University where I was first accepted with a teaching assistantship, they paid me $380 per month (with a ten percent tax deducted), an amount that is practically impossible to live on. The student’s spouse is legally forbidden from working anywhere. You would be deported if you did. The apartment rent — one small room shared with a roommate — cost $140. Mrs. Harrison, our old landlady, forbade us to lock our doors. Our rooms didn’t have locks or bolts. She surmised we would otherwise be doing drugs, or bringing in women. Then, food, clothes, books, transportation, phone charges, etc. I also had to call India from time to time, which cost a lot back in those pre-Internet days. To make some extra money, I started working in the student dorm cafetaria, which was minimum wage at $3.25 an hour.

But that was only a small part of the struggle. The real struggle was mental. Emotional. It was an excruciating isolation, with no friends, no relatives, nobody I could relate to. On top of it, some Americans who came to know me would frequently ask questions such as, “You’re from Calcutta? Calcutta is very poor, right? But Mother Teresa is trying to help you. Do you have doctors or hospitals back there? Why aren’t you a Christian?” And more.

Well, the Christianity question was more abundant when we moved down to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where I did my Ph.D. in plant biology. Church people came to our door on Sunday morning, and asked us why we did not go out to prayers. If we were not Christian, then what were we? Hindu? What was it? Pagan? Did Hindus believe in Jesus Christ? If not, why not? And more.

But even at Illinois State University, there was every effort to bring me to church. Lisa Schmidt, an American girl I became good friends with, took me to her church and Bible school a number of times. It was a difficult experience to sit through alien religious teachings and sermons, although I must say, nobody ever forced me to convert, or anything like it. People were nice. Lisa was very nice, even though her boyfriend Brian was a wrestler…on the ISU Redbirds team.

(And in Calcutta, I studied at Scottish Church School, and read the Bible cover to cover…with awe. For whatever its worth, I also visited Bethlehem and Nazareth…and returned to America with a hair-raising experience.)

The weather near Chicago was harsh, with feet of snow and ice piling up almost every day for five to six months of winter. We had no car; therefore, even to do groceries, we had to depend on somebody to give us a ride to the supermarket. But I couldn’t cook; so before my wife came to join me, either a roommate would cook, and I would help him to chop potatoes and onions, and do dishes.

My English-speaking abilities were poor. That was another essential thing to learn from scratch: in about a week after I landed in America, I started teaching biology to undergraduate American students. Mitosis and meiosis, with meiosis pronounced differently from what I had learned in India. I learned that the pronunciation of Jose was H-o-z-a-y, and Sean was S-h-aw-n. I learned that you could call Marjorie Marj, and Elizabeth Liz. Heather would be pronounced Hay-thar. Some of these students were friendly, helpful and warm; yet some others were arrogant snobs, and laughed hearing my Indian accent. They didn’t want to sit through my class, and complained to the professor that my tests were too hard.

And the first year of my American life in a remote, midwestern university, I had to make sure I did well in my own studies and tests; otherwise the school would kick me out. I had to quickly learn how to use the personal computer; I had never seen one before. Biology I learned in India was easy; here it was hard. There, it was mostly memorizing; here it was critical thinking. With no tutorial help, in extreme alienation, you feel miserable. It became daunting, intimidating, and frightening.

I became sick very soon, and was hospitalized.

(to be continued.)

ISU Felmley Hall

How to Kill A Mockingbird in 2015

Mockinbird

In the movie To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch famously said:

“I remember when my daddy gave me that gun. He told me that I should never point it at anything in the house, and that he’d rather I’d shoot at tin cans in the backyard. But he said that sooner or later he supposed the temptation to go after birds would be too much, and that I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted, if I could hit ’em, but to remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Today, November 29, we are going to remember Haider Rizvi, a dear brother, who left us suddenly exactly a month ago.

I’m not sure how many people will show up, and I couldn’t afford to do anything bigger than this event at a small Coney Island Avenue restaurant basement here in Brooklyn. But I wanted to organize this event, with help from some other friends for a couple of reasons.

One, Haider and I shared a few things in life. We were both first-generation immigrants here in USA, immigrants who did not prioritize money unlike most other immigrants especially from the Indian subcontinent.

We both rejected wealth as the ultimate measure of success. And we both knew that we were forced to leave our home countries, because our present and past rulers and British colonizing powers through their cruel and corrupt acts made our lives impossible.

We were both victims of the cruel, bloody partition, and we both suffered from that trauma — all our lives. I know some of my family members were destitute, being forcibly uprooted from Lahore and Dhaka. I know Haider’s family went through similar experiences. I could never visit Harappa and Mahenjodaro, which are my history too.

Haider Rizvi rejected and refused to accept the partition. So did I. We never believed in power’s forced boundaries, to keep people divided.

Haider and I were both victims of powers back there, and then as politically conscious and poetically inclined people, we were not treated by the powers here in America, the way we felt we should have been treated. After long, difficult struggles, wasting our health and other pleasures of life, we achieved success in our own fields, although the success was much more intellectual than economic — a fact that made us feel ostracized in our own immigrant communities here and also people we left back there.

And the second reason to organize today’s event is that I did want to make friends with more Indian, Pakistani, American and European men and women who would come together, and use his memory to work for peace, and a global environment of love, friendship and solidarity.

Today’s event is not a big United Nations general assembly. It’s a small event at a Brooklyn taxi drivers’ diner. But we couldn’t care less. We will create a sense of global togetherness out of this basement.

I hope you join us physically, and I hope you join us in spirit. Our resolve for love and peace is real.

Please, please, do not let them kill the mockingbird.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Haider

Trump Won’t Be President. But…

Trump CNNDonald Trump knows he can’t be the next American president. America is not that intellectually advanced, but still, it has come a long way from the old days of hate, bigotry and fascism.

When Trump says he wants to ban all Muslims from coming to U.S., he kills his chances even more.

Really, Trump knows he doesn’t have any serious chances. People who are supporting him now are supporting his hate speech and message of bigotry, paranoia and exclusion. But nobody knows it better than Trump himself that he has zero knowledge about how the world turns, how tax is collected, how roads are paved, and how barbers run their unisex shops across America. For that matter, he never visited a barber shop in years.

Trump never read history or geography or science or arts books…none of his colleagues did. He never paid taxes…none of the American one percent did in recent years, especially since Reagan. He never drove on the road…in fact, his class only rode the helicopter from Wall Street straight up to their New Jersey, Connecticut or Rhode Island mansions.helicopter

That is how their world turns…as we’ve seen on soap operas and Hollywood. Their lives are fantastical and frivolous. I would give it an F. If you look carefully at his face, you know that he knows he is an F.

And again, we all know Trump never went to a barber shop. In fact, he has the most unkempt hair that we have seen in recent years. It’s shameful.

But here on this blog, we don’t talk about shamefully unkempt hair. Or, Hillary Clinton’s $600 hair. Here, we talk about more serious and important things.

Six months ago, I said this to my labor union students [paraphrasing]:

“Trump will not be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, and he knows it. But he is doing what he has been asked to do: move an already right-wing media discussion to an even further right, and the 2016 campaign will be fought within that narrow, right-wing, hate and war spectrum. All else will be excluded. That is the plan.”

Let’s go global for a second, given this is a globalized economy today, and elections are not local either. They are global. Monsanto farmer suicides in India can make it an election debate issue between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

In USA and India, the two largest “democracies” in the world, the one percent is doing precisely this, what we call distraction from the 99 percent’s bread and butter issues, and putting spotlight on sensational issues. That is the plan.

India cartoon
In India, suddenly, beef eating or not has become a nationwide media market sell. As if India and its one billion poor people have solved all their problems with poverty, hunger, malnourishment, diseases, environment pollution, illiteracy, or unemployment. Women in India found equality and respect. Film stars — especially the billionaires — suddenly find out that India is so intolerant that they may have to leave the country. 

In USA, Trump and Kruz and Carson and Huckabee and Bush the juniormost president-to-be all want to tell us how tough we must be, and how evil Muslims and Latinos are. Trump called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers. When that didn’t go very well, ISIS came along to help. Now, it’s all about terror and ISIS and Mali and the imminent threat to American security and American way of life.

(Without telling us who and what created ISIS and Mali in the first place, that is. Hillary won’t talk about Libya and Mali. Bush  and New York Times and Judith Miller won’t talk about Iraq, Syria and ISIS.)

Trump and all other Republicans candidates are now saying that Muslims are all evil, as “thousands and thousands of Muslims cheered” when the World Trade Center towers came down on 9/11. Now, we must mark and tag and label each and every Muslim in America, Trump said.

(This tagging sounds familiar too…just go back on history a few decades.)

income inequality

And American big media — New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR, PBS, NBC, ABC and CBS, plus the right wing nuts on their TV and radio shows — have all decided that the 2016 elections should not and must not have any discussion on subjects such as the unprecedented income inequality in America, the hidden, massive unemployment, the anti-labor treaties such as Obama’s TPP (or Clinton’s NAFTA), or global movements such as the ones on climate change or women’s equality. No more debate on police brutality and Black Lives Matter. No discussion no more on immigration reform.

climate-changeThey have succeeded. It is very likely that Bush or Cruz from the Republican side and Hillary Clinton and Blue Dog Democrats from their side will be made the candidates for another four years of dumb charade, aka presidential elections.

Serious people who talk about serious issues — like Bernie Sanders — will be officially ostracized and excluded. Unless Bernie’s people can bring in so much pressure that DNC has no choice but to nominate him.

Noam Chomsky once said,“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

That is the plan. Trump and Cruz, with help from Hillary and Obama, are moving the spectrum of the election debate to far right.

New York Times and Washington Post and CNN and NBC are making sure that is where the “lively debate” stays.

Just think about it.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Chomsky debate spectrum

 

ISIS…and WWIII?

WWIII

Is World War III imminent?

I had this very scary, eerie, uncanny feeling when we went through the horrors of September Eleventh. And I have the same feeling now.

I have a feeling today that Western powers — particularly major, violent, repressive powers in the world — are sucking us into a Third World War. They tried to do it when September 11 happened. It was a devastating genocide of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. On the pretext of Weapons of Mass Destruction that they did not have. It was a unilateral war, defying the United Nations.

USA’s own consulate officers in Saudi Arabia had issued visas to twelve terrorists who blew up the World Trade Center. Iraq had nothing to with the terrorists. Saudi Arabia did. Yet, U.S. did not invade Saudi Arabia. They invaded and destroyed Iraq. They invaded and destroyed Afghanistan.

iraq-top-10-corporate-winners

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their allies — through the killing rampage in that ancient land, made enormous profit. Some say, Cheney’s company made billions. U.S. corporations made billions.

But because U.S. did not find more than a handful of allies at that time, they could not begin a new world war, even though in all likelihood, that was what they had on mind.

Sanity triumphed over insanity. Millions of people worldwide — including us here in America — came out on the street to protest war and terror.

Today, a silent, global, economic war is already on against the naive and the innocent. IMF, World Bank, Wall Street corporations and their politicians are sucking the world dry — one country at a time — through their economic enslavement, massive privatization, structural loans that the borrowing countries can’t get out of, and devaluation of currency. Millions of people are dying because they don’t have nutrition or health care. Man-made climate change and global pollution are killing an unprecedented number of people.

But I have a feeling that this time, taking advantage of the horrifying ISIS menace, they have begun a violent, fierce, global war — on terrorists that they themselves created, and also against anybody they perceive as terrorists. Muslims in particular. Or, Muslim-looking people and Muslim-type countries across the world. I have a feeling this war will quickly spread across the Middle East, and Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Egypt will be immediately sucked into it. And then, it might spread like an out-of-control wildfire to Pakistan and India on one end, perhaps Malaysia and Indonesia on the Far East, and Northern Africa and Turkey on the other. Russia will definitely be a target for the war hawks.

middle_eastBecause ISIS has now directly hit France and Europe, some European countries will have no choice but to be a part of the brutal carnage.

U.S. war industries, and Wall Street corporations are ecstatic that a new, massive war is on the horizon. War is perhaps the most lucrative market. It’s their Viagra. They can sell bombs to barbed wire, canned soup to cleaning soap, computer chips to potato chips, and toilet paper to news paper. And much more. It’s a free, totally deregulated market for the one percent. And there is zero accountability.

War to the war hawks is super-great business. Just ask Kissinger.

Just ask Bush and Cheney. Or, McCain, who only recently visited ISIS leaders, and praised them as freedom fighters.

For me, I will buy anti-depressants.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

mccain-isis

ISIS, and Other Journalism of Exclusion

Courtesy: http://countercurrentnews.com/2014/06/isis-pr-mccain/
Courtesy: http://countercurrentnews.com/2014/06/isis-pr-mccain/

ISIS — we all know, now, through the horrific carnage in Paris (and Lebanon).

But what the heck is Journalism of Exclusion?

Let’s talk about it.

Only recently, John McCain praised ISIS, and took pictures with the terrorist group’s top leaders. New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR, NBC, and other major media did not report it, let alone publish photos that are now easily available online.

Even today, after the Paris (and oh yes, Lebanon) massacres, they did not report that Obama govt. and a Republican congress have been in continuous touch with ISIS, and nobody is held accountable for their support and praise of the terror group. U.S. and Western “liberal” media pretend they did not know.

Not too long ago, New York Times reporter Judith Miller cooked up a so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction story, which the globally-feared paper printed on its front page for weeks, where defying all journalistic standards, it used one (and only one!) globally discredited source named Ahmad Chalabi.

The report validated Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld to begin the Iraq genocide.

Is this a war crime?
Is this a war crime?

New York Times never bothered to mention that Chalabi was a paid CIA agent, a fact they disclosed only weeks ago, in a Chalabi obituary.

Now, let’s talk about the 2016 U.S. elections, that will decide the fate of an entire world and its people.

NYT, Washington Post, CNN, NBC and such powerful, global media never mention that Hillary Clinton is supported by (1) Monsanto, GMO corporation responsible for a massive number of farmers’ suicides in India, (2) Goldman Sachs, one of the primary culprits behind the 2008 economic crash, (3) Wal-Mart, corporation responsible for the destruction of American manufacturing jobs, and (4) private prison corporations that make huge profit by putting blacks and immigrants in American jails.

The above are all examples of Journalism of Exclusion.

I am a student of Noam Chomsky, but I don’t know if he has ever used the term “Journalism of Exclusion.” I have been using it, and asking my politically conscious and courageous friends to challenge big media head on. Only this fierce yet nonviolent challenge can save us from another generation’s time of mass deception and stolen democracy.

The current, global terrorism — both ISIS and American — finds its roots and refuge in this mass deception and the pretense of a free press and open democracy.

Do we want to put up with this violence, lies, and exclusion?

You decide.

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

Just tell the truth. Do not exclude it.
Just tell the truth. Do not exclude it.